The Chicago Sun-Times wants Ozzie Guillen to manage the White Sox again

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There was a time, not terribly long ago, when newspaper columnists more or less set the baseball news agenda. No one truly does that anymore. Too many voices, too many people, too much news. But back then a motivated columnist could get people truly talking merely by leaning back in their chair for a while and imagining stuff that sounded fun to them. Bam! — there’s a column and there’s a talking point for fans and radio hosts and everyone.

We don’t see a ton of that these days. Some, but not as much. Partially because of all of those other voices, but more because the debunking cycle goes too fast. In 1992, a columnist could invent some fantastical thing that sounded cool to them — “Mudville should trade for Shlabotnik, and probably will!” — and it’d be many hours before team spokesman could deny it and 24 hours before that denial would appear in print anyplace. Johnny Columnist OWNED the Shlabotnik-to-Mudville story for a whole day and a night. It’s much riskier now, given that by the time anyone has read your little speculative/analytical/newsy piece, someone has denied it or debunked it.

But sometimes they happen. This from Chris DeLuca of the Chicago Sun-Times is pretty close to the old genre. In it he argues — based on nothing more than Ozzie Guillen being in town for a 2005 team reunion and the White Sox struggling — that the White Sox should hire Ozzie Guillen. He doesn’t report it’s going to happen, but he spends enough time reading the minds, more or less, of the White Sox brass and trying to convince you, dear reader, that it makes too much sense NOT to happen.

Then, as the style practically dictates, he brings home the logic of the idea in terms of how it interests him, the sportswriter leaning back in his chair and imagining things:

Say what you will about Guillen, but he would pump life into a team that needs some CPR. Players would have no choice but to listen.

Win or lose, he would make the Sox interesting again. The most important part: He’s a damn good manager. And he has been humbled since his 2012 departure from the Miami Marlins, who still are sending him paychecks. The front-office friction would vanish.

Please do not read this as a harsh criticism of DeLuca here. Because you know what? I like Ozzie Guillen. He’s fun. And I’ve never been terribly impressed by Robin Ventura. I feel like Guillen deserves another shot and it makes all kinds of sense for him to have it happen again in Chicago. As far as columnist wishcasting goes, I’m intrigued by DeLuca’s ideas and want to subscribe to his newsletter.

But let’s watch to see if the old-style news dynamic happens as a result of this piece. If the harmless wishcasting and imagining here turns into talk radio chatter and if the “it’d be neat if Ozzie took over” subtly shifts to “what do you make of this Ozzie-back-to-Chicago rumor!” remember that it is basically made up of whole cloth because it’s a neat idea for a column, not because it has any legs. And that’s one of the biggest differences between sports coverage of 2015 and sports coverage back in the Shlabotnik-to-Mudville era.

 

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.