The Most Interesting Man in the World's greatest feat may be keeping a middling team's clubhouse in good spirits.
CSNChicago's Chuck Garfien chronicled the tales of The Most Interesting [Cardboard] Man in the World today, which leads to this conclusion: Chemistry isn't a problem with the White Sox.
Teams don't have to have good chemistry to win, and they certainly don't have to have bad chemistry to lose. But in a clubhouse with an underachiever at every turn, the Sox are staying loose. The Dos Equis guy is evidence enough of that.
It would be easy for one of the Sox veterans -- Paul Konerko, Mark Buehrle, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Thornton, etc. -- to jump down the throat of, say, Alex Rios. His misplay of an Eric Hosmer fly ball in the first inning Wednesday quickly put the Sox down 1-0, just another moment in a string of mishaps by the high-priced center fielder at the plate and on the field this season.
But if Rios ever comes up with a game-winning hit or a key defensive play, expect him to begin his postgame interview with "that's an interesting question." The perfectly-groomed beard and content smile of The Most Interesting Man in the World will be staring back into the TV cameras surrounding Rios' locker.
It's apparently quite easy for the team to rally around Juan Pierre, the poster child for hard work and doing things the right way. Despite Pierre's poor offensive credentials, he hasn't lost support from anyone on the White Sox. Again, good chemistry.
But I can't stress enough that good chemistry only gets a team so far. The White Sox are two games under .500 at 43-45, struggling in the quicksand of mediocrity. And yet, the Sox are maintaining that removing Pierre from the roster would have massively negative consequences.
"First of all, Pierre is one of the great men I've ever coached," Walker said. "His makeup is off the charts. And he's a winner. You can win with Juan Pierre and we know it. -- Whitesox.com
"I wish I had 25 Juan Pierres, with all due respect to [Paul] Konerko, [Alex] Rios, [Adam] Dunn," skipper Ozzie Guillen said, displaying his irrationality for all to see. "If you ever manage Juan Pierre, you appreciate the way this kid goes about his business." -- Chicago Sun-Times
“I told you guys yesterday that I'd take [Pierre] up during a big situation over just about anybody on our team,” Pierzynski said. “You know he's going to put the ball in play and he usually has a solid at-bat … For J.P. to get the hit after a great at-bat from [Gordon] Beckham with the walk was huge. It was obviously the only run. He had a great at-bat, two strikes, fouled off some pitches and just flipped the ball out there. That's what J.P. can do. He puts the ball in play, makes things happen. I couldn't be happier for him and like I said I have more faith in him than just about anybody in here.” -- CSNChicago
Pierre obviously isn't the only problem. Rios is one. Adam Dunn is another. Ditto Gordon Beckham. But he's the easiest problem to eradicate given his relatively low cost and major-league ready replacement.
Maybe getting rid of Pierre would upset team chemistry. Maybe Dayan Viciedo, try as he might, would never end up with a cardboard cutout of a wildly popular beer spokesman behind him in a postgame interview.
But good chemistry can only take a team so far. Better players will take it further.