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Columnist
Ramirez might opt out? Now that's funny
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/17/2010 12:01 AM

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When the pain is at its worst, you're supposed to find a way to laugh.

That's what they say, but "they" probably didn't have to watch the 2010 Cubs.

And while humorous moments have been hard to find, Aramis Ramirez provided one over the weekend when he discussed whether he'd grace us with his presence in 2011.

Ramirez has a player option worth nearly $18 million (when you include his 2012 buyout) and he was asked whether he wanted to return next season.

"We'll see," Ramirez said, keeping a straight face. "It depends what kind of young players (are brought in). If we get guys like (Starlin) Castro and (Tyler) Colvin, we're going to compete.

"If you've got good players like that, I'll be here."

Otherwise, presumably, Ramirez would find an $18 million offer somewhere else. Perhaps, there's one lying around in that house in which he lives. You know, the one with no mirrors.

In case you've ignored the Cubs all season, and who would blame you, Ramirez has averaged about an injury a week in 2010.

He also was horrendous at the plate in the first half and - along with Derrek Lee - was the biggest reason for the Cubs' early-season failure.

But the sorriest part is he has gotten even worse in the field than he's ever been before - if one can imagine that.

He refuses to put his body in front of the ball, playing everything off to the side, and seems to care less about helping his pitcher with every passing day.

Ramirez has 13 errors and the worst fielding percentage (.928) of any third baseman in baseball who has played as many games (83), despite a decreasing range and having the fewest total chances.

The Phillies' Placido Polanco, by contrast, has played the same number of games but with 70 more chances, only 4 errors and a .984 fielding percentage.

How a manager can sit there and watch Ramirez day after day without forcing him to participate defensively is unconscionable, and Lou Piniella ignoring Ramirez's play while so many young players watch and learn such behavior is one of Piniella's greatest and lasting failures on the North Side.

It's emblematic of much that has gone wrong the last two years.

And it's yet another example of the bad, backloaded, long-term, no-trade contracts the Cubs have haphazardly handed out.

As for Ramirez, he thinks there's going to be $18 million for him on the open market? He's going to watch what the Cubs do in the off-season? Then, and only then, he's going to let us know whether he wants to return?

If that doesn't make you laugh, the Cubs have truly stolen your sense of humor.

The implosion

Ozzie Guillen and Don Cooper spent a week preaching that the White Sox' bullpen would be better off if Bobby Jenks could get healthy and return to closing, notwithstanding the inconsistency and occasional blown save.

Their point is that the bullpen was at its best when relievers were comfortable in their setup roles and Jenks was getting the last three outs.

What they were thinking but didn't say is that not everyone can handle the pressure of the ninth inning and some can't even handle the eighth.

And what we've seen since Jenks went down is exactly that, guys thrown into roles they can't manage and a great bullpen most of the year has suddenly gone to pieces.

Return game

Sox GM Ken Williams found a few hours to watch his son Kyle play for the 49ers in Indy on Sunday.

Taken in the sixth round out of ASU, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Williams is trying to make it in the NFL as a receiver/returner, and he impressed coach Mike Singletary before spraining a toe on a 36-yard punt return in the second quarter.

"I thought when Kyle got the ball, he hit it right away," Singletary said. "It was good to see Kyle do what he did, but we will have to see how that toe is doing."

Williams also caught a pass for 8 yards and returned 2 kicks for 42 yards.

Radio days

The White Sox are closing in on a five-year extension with the Score after briefly kicking the tires on an FM station. Ultimately, the Sox chose to keep the flagship where it is, where they believe it has been a healthy relationship for both sides.

Up and down

Comedian Alex Kaseberg: "This hasn't been a good year for Tiger Woods. But on the bright side, his Thanksgiving will probably be better than last year."

And finally -

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, on the movement in Knoxville to name a sewage treatment plant after ex-Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin: "It's a great idea and could actually start a trend. For instance, in Gainesville, after Urban Meyer leaves, they could name the courthouse after him."

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.