Each time Chris Cooks hears this chant he crinches, he knows he’s losing fan support and his career looks like it's coming to an abrupt stop if his play doesn’t improve, but he’s not ready for that. “We want Javi…. We want Javi… We want Javi” rings through the Guaranteed rate field as the White Sox lose their 5th straight in the dog days of June. The chants are directed toward two people, manager Gonzalez and veteran center fielder Chris Cooks. Cooks is batting just over .200 since April and Javi is the new highly touted prospect that was just drafted by the White Sox this year but hasn’t been given the opportunity to play yet.. Barking over Cooks’ shoulder when he gets back to his locker are three reporters begging to hear from Cooks’ about the game and his future at the ball club.
The first reporter asks “You’ve been in a slump recently, is the pressure of a new upcoming rookie in your position affecting that slump at all?” Cooks, a seasoned veteran and fan favorite of an older generation of fans, picks up his head responding “It’s a long a season, everybody goes through ups and downs”. A second reporter interrupts saying, “Its seems that you’ve lost some of the fan fame you’ve had earlier in that career, how does that feel?” Irritated, Cooks responds, “You have any questions about the game? Otherwise I’m done answering questions.” The same reporter comes back saying “You were up in the 8th in a pivotal situation up 3-0 in count, you then popped up to end the inning. Can you explain what your mentality was up to bat there, many would say that at bat cost us the game today.” “Well, it came down to execution and I saw my pitch and I just didn’t hit it squarely, that is all!” Cooks answers.
Right before Cooks can walk out Manager Gonzalez stops Cooks and asks him to meet him in his office to talk for a minute. “Coffee?” Manager Gonzalez asks. “No, no thanks. I’m alright” Cooks responds. “Chris I’ve been trying to push this conversation off as long as I could but it has come to the point where I can’t anymore. I’ve been getting alot of pressure from up top in the organization and from people on the outside to bring in Javi and cut you loose but I just haven’t been able to do that to you. But let’s be real, it’s no secret your play has been atrocious and I don’t think I can consistently rely on you to perform for the rest of the season.” Manager Ozzie Gonzalez says. Chris Cooks blankly stares back up saying “Ozzie you know me I’ll bounce back it's just a short slump. I’ve been playing for you for the last 7 years and I haven’t gotten injured, I have played hard, just give me some time I’m coming around at the plate.” Ozzie answers, “I don’t have time and due to your contract we couldn’t just release you so the people up top are looking to trade you off for a prospect or two but I doubt anyone is gonna want a old veteran on their payroll. So we are going to keep you on the bench as a morale guy and we are going to bring Javi up to play Centerfield.” Cooks tries to interject “Coach, Coach, Coach” but Manager Gonzalez cuts him off right away “Chris you know me, I’m a loyal guy. So I wouldn’t do this unless I absolutely need to and your play has called for that. This is non-negotiable and you’d have to do something drastic to even get a chance to see the field again in White Sox uniform. End of conversation.”
The next day, when Cooks comes in the club house he sees a new face next to his locker. It’s the new 19 year old cuban prospect Javi Ortiz. Introducing himself Cooks says, “Hey Javi, I’m Chris Cooks.” Without up picking up his head he responds “Sup.” Baffled by the response, Cooks looked at him trying to give him another chance saying “If you need any help around the clubhouse or anything, just let me know.” Finally, Javi pauses what he’s doing and puts his hand out to shake Chris’. As they lock he looks Chris in the eyes and says “Thanks but don’t worry, I’ll be running this clubhouse in a month.”
The summer’s over and the Sox have miraculously pulled within a half game of the division in the last week of september. Cooks hasn’t started a game in nearly two months now and star rookie Javi Ortiz has taken the league by storm, so much so he’s up for rookie of the year after only playing half of the season. Down 3-2 in the 9th, left fielder Manny Garcia comes back in to the dugout going into the bottom of the inning complaining about leg cramps saying he can’t play anymore. Right after hearing the news, Chris Cooks jumps up to approach Manager Ozzie Gonzalez, “Ozzie give me a chance here, Please. I’m the only one who’s got real experience in these high pressure situations and I’m ready, C’mon.”Manager Gonzalez looks down the bench and scans the rest of his options, as he looks at his assistant he responds back “Suit up Cooks, you’re on deck.”
As Cooks comes out with a guy on first and 1 out, he starts to hear boos from the crowd as he swings in the on deck circle. Javi Ortiz strikes out for the second out of the inning bringing Cooks up to bat. The whole game is coming down to Cooks, whose batting a horrible .127 average on the season, to save the sox and keep them alive for the playoffs. First pitch Cooks takes a hearty smack and drives what looks like a foul ball down the right field line. The right fielder jogs back leisurely looking at it with his glove up ready to catch, he drifts further and further back. “Back, Back, Back and it's over the wall in right! Chris Cooks has done it! Sox win! Sox win! Absolutely incredible!” Hawk Harrelson yells, “In my 23 years of broadcasting I have never heard Guaranteed Rate Field this loud”. Running around the bases, virtually floating through the air Cooks rounds third base beaming. Jumping on the plate emphatically, he’s stormed by the rest of his teammates as they now have secured a playoff spot. Supporters and haters alike rejoice as they yet again see the clutch gene Chris Cooks brings out every September and October.