Ozzie Guillen traffics in metaphor, is predictably misunderstood

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Ozzie Guillen was apparently not in a very good mood in the wake of Saturday’s ugly extra innings loss, because yesterday morning he went off.  Most of the comments were about his coaches, how managers approach their job differently than players and fans do and about how much he cares about the White Sox, even though he wishes he didn’t care so much because not caring would be so much easier.

The comments that are getting all of the play, however, are the comments about the fans. Specifically, Guillen’s claim that the fans don’t care about him or the coaching staff and about how they are ungrateful for anything since the 2005 World Series championship. Here’s a link to the video of Guillen’s extended comments at CSN Chicago. The comments that are getting play start at around 11:40:

“Are they going to feel sorry because we’re going to get fired? F— no. They only remember us from 2005. In 2020 we’ll come here in a wheel chair all f—– up. As soon as you leave the ballpark they don’t care about you anymore. They don’t. The monuments, the statue they got, they pee on it when they’re drunk. That’s all they do. Thank you for coming, bye-bye.”

These comments were reported throughout the day yesterday by multiple outlets.  Last night, however, Guillen took to Twitter and ranted about the way they were being reported, and denied that he said anything about fans and alcohol. Here’s are his tweets from around 9PM last night, strung together for clarity but otherwise unedited because, man, no one could pay me enough to edit Ozzie Guillen:

Thas bull crap what the media print today about celular field and the fans … The should print and said everything I said thas low blow and imrresponsable no clas … Bunch a crap … No mention any fans and alcohol … Press asociacion print you name who put that today tha will be fear … I have the enterviu on tape I whish I can sue then thas a very low blow … Allways take stuff out the contest [I assume that means context] put people in bad situation to people can read then … What a hell I going to say bad thing about white sox fan they are behind me all my carrer a less most of then

Guillen’s more official statement, released by the White Sox, is as follows:

“If anyone listens to the entire conversation or reads a transcript of what I said, they will see my comments were not directed as criticism of White Sox fans.”

I watched the entire video at the link above. If you have the time you should too, because his comments provide some pretty interesting insight into the mind of a manager, not just the typical “Ozzie said something crazy” kind of thing. If someone reported just the stuff Guillen said about the fans at the 11-12 minute mark and and none of his other comments, Ozzie has a valid argument that his words were cast in a misleading light inasmuch as he did not set out to specifically and exclusively rip fans.  It was a very small part of a larger monologue and, in context, they seem fairly benign and reflective, not malicious toward fans. One could even make the argument that the “peeing on the monuments” thing was a metaphor, though I don’t expect many will actually make that argument.

That said, the secondhand reports I’ve read, including stories at the Chicago Tribune and ESPN Chicago, do a fairly decent job of describing the context, and the “no mention any fans and alcohol” is just wrong, as is clear from the videotape, so it’s not like Guillen’s indignation is excessively righteous, even if I tend to take his side here and don’t take any real issue with what he said.

To me this sounds like a situation in which Ozzie was surprised that what he said was actually reported.  Which, given what I’ve heard about what it’s like to cover Guillen, is not a total shocker.  He’s known to go off on profane and rather hilarious rants about things in the presence of reporters. I was once around him when he went off about the Tiger Woods sex scandal, and to this day I still have laughing fits thinking about it.

Unlike that kind of thing, however, what he said here was in an actual manager press conference with film rolling, not a casual conversation in the hallway of a hotel at the Winter Meetings. And the comments were newsworthy, given that they were about his team and his job, not about Tiger Woods. And given how this whole quote/react game works, it’s understandable if people are raising eyebrows about it all, because what he said is not the usual cliche-dripping stuff that tends to come out of the mouths of managers.

But I can’t get worked up about all of this, because what he’s saying is pretty much true. People don’t care what you did six years ago, they care about the here and now. Maybe Ozzie shouldn’t simply come out and say that stuff because people tend to not be able to handle that kind of truth coming from baseball managers (and because Ozzie lends himself to misinterpretation because, well, he’s Ozzie).  But no, I’m not going to go along with the idea that his comments are a big a deal worthy of controversy.

Bartolo Colon Watching the Eclipse Is Your Moment of Zen

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A Solar Eclipse

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.

Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.