If I ran the White Sox’ center-field scoreboard, I’d find a clip of Arthur Lake screaming, “Blooooondie!” from one of the Blondie movies based on the newspaper comic strip, and I’d use it whenever Brian Anderson was coming up in a key situation or — more likely — whenever he made an exceptional play in the field.
Anderson’s blond locks set him apart even before he cut them short, and for three seasons now I’ve been pointing out how he’s made the Sox better just by playing center field like the fair-haired son of Jesus. So it’s been gratifying this year to hear everyone else ask, in the daily newspapers and on sports-talk radio, how come Anderson doesn’t play more.
For most of the 2006 post-championship season, the Sox had a .667 winning percentage with Anderson in the starting lineup, and not coincidentally even in last year’s miserable season, when Anderson spent most of the year in the minors, it was 2-1 for a winning percentage of, yes, .667. I still think it’s a completely different season in 2006 if Anderson is in to catch Jacque Jones’s drive to right-center and preserve the Sox’ sweep of the Cubs at Sox Park. (Instead, with Rob Mackowiak in center, Jones’s hit dropped, Michael Barrett followed with a homer, the Cubs won, and the Sox faded in the second half.)
This year the Sox are a more reasonable 18-17 with Anderson starting in center, but he’s provided key late-inning defense and has gone 91 games without an error, extending back to April. So why doesn’t Ozzie play him more, especially after insisting Josh Fields doesn’t play third because Ozzie is such a defense-oriented manager? Is it because of Anderson’s professed weakness for the “honeys?” Doesn’t matter. If Ozzie truly wants to play “Ozzie ball,” he should play Anderson and stress defense and pitching — not a bad strategy for the postseason, when the cold weather figures to chill the Sox’ home-run power. So I make the call again: “Blooooooondie!”