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.

Umpire admits he blew the call that got Joe Maddon ejected last night

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Last night in the top of the eighth inning of the Dodgers-Cubs game, Curtis Granderson struck out. Or, at the very least, he should’ve. After the game, the umpire who said he didn’t admitted he screwed up.

While trying to squelch a Dodgers comeback, Wade Davis got Granderson into a 2-2 count. Davis threw his pitch, Granderson whiffed on it, it hit the dirt, and Willson Contreras applied the tag for the out. End of the inning, right? Wrong: Granderson argued to home plate umpire Jim Wolf that he made slight contact with the ball, Wolf, after conferring with the other umps agreed, and Granderson lived to see another pitch.

Before he’d see that pitch, Joe Maddon came out to argue the call and got so agitated about it all he was ejected for the second time in this series. He was right to argue:

It all ended up not mattering, of course, because Granderson struck out eventually anyway.

Normally such things end there, but after the game a reporter got to Wolf and Wolf did something umpires don’t often do: he admitted he blew the call:

It’s good that the bad call ended up not affecting anything. But the part of me who likes to stir up crap and watch chaos rule in baseball really kinda wishes that Granderson had hit a series-clinching homer right after that. At least as long as it didn’t result in Cubs fans burning Chicago to the ground.