Guillen’s Fresh Air Turns Stale

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - May 14, 2008
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There was a time when White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was entertaining, must-hear TV. Flung into a world of sterile sound bites and PC-ladened non-comments, Guillen’s honesty and take-no-prisoners approach to public speaking kept a nation starving for characters and truthful commentary begging for more. In the meantime, he also led the long-suffering Sox to their first World Series title in 88 years. Now, three years and a thousand tirades later, the act has grown stale and unwelcome as his managerial star continues to fade.

Guillen’s most-recent four-lettered assault on professional conduct came last week when he aggressively whined to a reporter about the city’s apparent disinterest in his underachieving team. He slammed Cub fans and anyone else who dared not bow before the mighty, sub-.500 Sox. In a 39-second clip that actually runs closer to 35 seconds in total rant time on, the White Sox manager is bleeped out 13 times - many of which were of double and even triple length - while quoting TWIB notes not often replayed on the Baseball Bunch like ... “@#*&! everyone. We’re horse*#@!! and we’re going to be horse*#@!! all our lives. No matter how many World Series we win, we are the $&*!# of Chicago. We are Chicago’s $&*!#.”

If Guillen’s oral attacks were kept out of ear range within the clubhouse or limited to only undefined individuals or groups, the comments would be easier to ignore. However, since he continues to use the public platform that his position allows to crudely attack those he feels beneath him - which means everybody - or those who dare to question his seemingly self-imposed encyclopedic knowledge of the game, it’s become intolerable. Just as Chicago-Sun Times columnist Jay Mariotti discovered in 2006.

After questioning in a column the handling of reliever Sean Tracey, who was demoted after refusing an order from his irate manager to hit a batter, Guillen responded with an all-too-typical tirade that contained more bleeps than the Flavor Flav celebrity roast. “What a piece of *#@!! he is. @#*&! F**!,” he was heard to say.

Allow me to jump off track for just a moment.

Wasn’t there a time when roasts were for those who accomplished something more than being involved in the nastiest reality show hookup in TV history? Granted, Flav was once a part of hip-hop royalty, but even in that role he served more as comic relief to Chuck D’s thought-provoking lyrics and perfect delivery. Then again, Flav does deserve something beyond penicillin for his death-defying coital romps with Bridgette Nielson.

Back to the subject at hand. Even in his “apology,” Guillen still managed to describe the columnist as “a piece of *#@!!” To be fair, Mariotti has had runins with others on the White Sox staff, and he has been criticized for what some feel is taking cheap shots at Guillen and other team members. Even if this was the case, Guillen has been way out of line in his criticisms of the columnist and anyone else who has raised his ire over the last few years.

Major League Baseball, fans, the media and especially Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ken Williams have not only put up with his egotistical raving, but have actually encouraged it with steadfast support. Reinsdorf once actually suggested that Guillen is a Hispanic Jackie Mason. After viewing Caddy Shack II, it appears that the owner may not be far off. Both come across more sad than funny.

Like the journalists, fans and corporate sponsors who flock to John Daley telling him how fun-loving and interesting he is, Guillen’s support has manifested itself into an addict’s ignorance of responsibility where all fault always lies somewhere else. Baseball, though this would be a first, has to stand up and demand better behavior.

The league did add its two cents after someone displayed a few inflatable lonely hearts club love dolls with strategically placed bats in the locker room, but declined to address the topic of a manager who simply refuses to conduct himself in any sort of professional manner. For the record, the league did not come down on the Sox for their creative use of inspirational software, calling it a club matter, but at least they had an opinion.

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