Commentary

Another bitter-tweet night

As usual, the latest Guillen-Williams riff takes the focus off the Sox's real problems

Updated: August 30, 2010, 1:17 PM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Maybe the joke's on us.

Maybe it's all just another ploy to get us to stop paying attention to the Chicago White Sox, who have generally performed best when no one's looking.

Maybe when Kenny Williams said he was laughing and joshing with Ozzie Guillen in the manager's office, we should take that to mean they were laughing at those of us who took their bait.

Bullpen trouble? What bullpen trouble?

We were back in Twitterland on Wednesday, back to talking about the 25-year-old son of the White Sox manager rather than the White Sox. While Guillen was praying that Mark Buehrle could go the distance against the Baltimore Orioles, someone was asking Bobby Jenks about Oney Guillen. And just so we're clear, he didn't care. None of his teammates care. At all.

What they cared about was that Buehrle threw 115 pitches in seven innings and that the Sox lost 4-2 to the Orioles, failing to pick up ground on a night the Minnesota Twins lost to the Texas Rangers.

But for most of the day, the pressure was off the Sox and back on those who make a living at coming up with new ways to get Twitter, Guillen, Williams and squabble into the same headline.

To say the Sox thrive on the tension between Guillen and Williams is passť. They thrive on being ignored. But Guillen and Williams clearly relish the weirdness, and what's more, it keeps each of them honest and the organization more transparent than most.

[+] EnlargeOzzie Guillen
John Rieger/US PresswireOzzie Guillen's son's Twitter page has been a regular distraction.

Would we have found out about Williams enjoying himself at a comedy club on Saturday night if Guillen hadn't expressed his anger at feeling his team was deserted in its time of need, and his son hadn't expounded on it?

Oney Guillen has actually come in handy in that regard. Ozzie never had to confront Williams because his son did it for him. Williams then felt forced to reconstruct the events of the weekend, the inter-team communication regarding the bullpen and his thoughts about the most annoying innovation of the 21st century.

"I think it's disrespectful," Williams said of Oney's Tweets, "but I'm a public figure and you can't have it both ways . ... It's been a long time since I've had to wait too long for a table, for instance, at a restaurant in Chicago. You can't enjoy that without also understanding that there's another side that comes with it. You try to keep a balance to your life and a little humility along the way and understand that you're also going to be a target for people trying to make a name for themselves."

Oney Guillen has been accused of being motivated more by a desire to sell a family reality show (think male Kardashian's), than sticking up for his father. His father, who told him to resign from his job in the Sox video and scouting departments last spring to avoid embarrassment and general discomfort caused by tweeting that reflected badly on Sox management, presumably could issue another directive to stop tweeting about the Sox, period.

Clearly, Ozzie doesn't really want him to stop.

"Oney can tweet whatever he wants," Ozzie said. "Oney's not part of this organization. Oney is a grown man. Whatever Oney feels about this ballclub is as a fan, and people look at him in a different way because he's my kid. People might think he talks to me about it. Well, I have enough guts to say yes or no. I never talked to Oney. I just talked to him a couple minutes ago. I understand his point. He's a fan; I respect that. As my kid, sometimes you wish he doesn't say that. But how many times do I say something people wish I don't say it?"

The details from this past weekend are already blurry, but both Guillen and Williams appeared to agree that Williams checked in regularly with Don Cooper on whether bullpen help was needed and that Friday was too early to make the call on Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz going to the disabled list.

But the fact remains that Tony Pena's forced start Sunday made him unavailable for at least five days, Bobby Jenks was stretched more than he had to be, Putz may have made his knee problem worse by pitching through it, and Buehrle and Gavin Floyd had to be on-call in the bullpen. That's enough to make any manager edgy.

"When you lose your two main men out of the bullpen," Guillen said, "that means a lot to the manager because I think that's the more important decision you have to make in the game. ... The only thing you can do is pray or hopefully the starting pitchers [make] the difference and hopefully the offense scores more runs to get support to the pitching staff. That's all you can do."

Wednesday, they didn't do it very well, scattering five hits against the Orioles and letting a potential ninth-inning rally die after Carlos Quentin's two-out triple drove in Paul Konerko. It ended when A.J. Pierzynski, representing the game-winning run, struck out.

It wasn't the bullpen's fault. Erick Threets once again did what he was asked, allowing just one hit in two innings of relief.

As attention now turns to the Manny Ramirez watch, with the veteran reportedly placed on waivers amid the very real possibility he could be traded to Chicago, the Sox only need to pick up one game on Minnesota every 10 days or so. And they still have that three-game set at home against the Twins, Sept. 14-16.

But you can't be dropping games to the Royals and Orioles.

As for the Guillen-Williams sideshow, Williams said nothing that has happened between the two should cause "any great worry or concern that we can't continue to be effective."

Their conversation before the game, Williams said, centered on "the future as a whole and where we want to go and how we want to conduct business and how respectful and peaceful we want it to be. So all in all, I consider it to be a good day."

If it wasn't for the game, it really would have been swell.

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.