Commentary

Ozzie just being Ozzie when White Sox manager goes off

Updated: June 4, 2008, 10:20 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | EPSN.com

This story has been clarified. Read below

CHICAGO -- Blow-up dolls … blow-up manager -- they're both full of hot air.

That's what you have to remember about Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and this latest nonstory pretending to be a controversy. Guillen talks. A lot. And much of what he says should be inserted into a paper shredder. Trying to make sense of Guillen's many rants is like trying to eat soup with a rake.

"Sometimes I create my own problems too," he said late Tuesday, as a larger-than-usual number of media formed a semicircle around Guillen in the White Sox dugout. "I'm not going to make any excuses. Sometimes I create my own problems, you know. In the meanwhile, that's the way I am. That's me. I'm going to say what I have to say."

Ozzie Guillen
Luc Leclerc/US PresswireThe angry Ozzie Guillen shows up every once in a while to light a fire under the White Sox.

His most recent knucklehead comments are vintage Ozzie. And by vintage, I mean mostly ridiculous.

This time Guillen popped off after losing three consecutive games against Tampa Bay. It wasn't so much the losses themselves, but the way they lost -- scoring a grand total of four runs in those three games. So on Sunday he lit the fuse on his firecracker mouth and delivered a series of small, rat-a-tat explosions.

The one that got the most national play was his vow to blow up the White Sox lineup if general manager Ken Williams didn't make some immediate roster moves.

"I expect [him] to do something Tuesday," said the human sound bite. "Because if we don't do anything Tuesday, there are going to be a lot of lineup changes. That's all I'm going to say about the offense."

It was good TV, good talk-radio material, but it wasn't really much of a story. And that includes when Guillen said he wasn't "protecting anybody anymore," including his coaches and his players. Or when Williams issued a terse e-mail response to the Chicago Tribune: "It's just not a good idea to throw your boss under the bus, especially when that boss has had your back as much as I have had his."

Yawn.

Guillen and Williams had a closed-door meeting Tuesday afternoon. Thirty minutes before he arrived for the meeting, Guillen had already decided on his Tuesday night White Sox lineup. The threatened overhaul? Never happened. Guillen did a nip and tuck, nothing more.

"I showed them with my lineup today," he said. "I don't make any changes. … I still believe we got a lot of, lot of, lot of talent on this ballclub."

They have enough talent to be five games over .500, lead the division, and do it with an offense that ranks 12th in the AL in batting average, ninth in runs, 12th in hits, eighth in RBIs. And they have enough talent and equilibrium to deal with the usual Guillen outbursts.

What they don't have is a manager who knows how to keep his mouth shut. That's the beauty and the curse of Guillen. Everyone knew this going in. They knew it when he was winning a World Series in 2005, losing 90 games in 2007, and grinding away in a surprisingly crummy AL Central in 2008.

"This is like a marriage," Guillen said of the Ozzie/Williams dynamic.

And Tuesday they had another counseling session. And they'll have more. This is how it works here:

White Sox
AP Photo/Brian KerseyThe happy Ozzie Guillen congratulates Orlando Cabrera after he scored one of the White Sox's nine runs on Tuesday.

White Sox scuffle.

Guillen says something dumb.

Everybody recoils.

Williams responds in measured tones.

Media arrives.

Calmness prevails.

Repeat process at later date.

Asked what happened during his meeting with Williams, Guillen said, "Nothing." The fact that they had a meeting means it was more than nothing. The fact that Guillen said they cleared the air, "as clear as it can be," and the fact that Williams declined to speak with reporters Tuesday means it was more than nothing.

It was something. It just wasn't the something.

"I think Kenny Williams is one of my friends," Guillen said. "And the last people I try to hurt, feelings, or the man, or say the stuff by hurting him … will be Kenny. Not because he's my GM. Not because he's my boss. It's just because he's my friend."

Still, you get more than a feeling that center fielder Nick Swisher and shortstop Orlando Cabrera -- two of Williams' key acquisitions -- aren't exactly Guillen favorites. That's a pressure point in the Ozzie/Williams relationship. And it isn't going away.

But neither is Guillen. He said he isn't going to quit. So that means Williams would have to fire him. And it would take more than this latest dust-up for Williams to dismiss a manager signed through 2012. According to the ESPN research department, only one manager since at least 1900 has been fired while his team was in first place -- Pat Corrales in 1983, and his team was in a virtual tie with the Cardinals.

Guillen isn't going to change. He might be slightly more careful with his future comments, but probably not. He is hardwired to say whatever pops into his mind.

"If people expect me after [a loss] to be with a happy face, and [say], 'We'll be OK,' and, 'We're going to get it tomorrow, no worries, it's a long season,' then they have the wrong guy," Guillen said. "I know my ballclub. They know me."

Everybody knows Ozzie. They know the good, the crude, the insufferable.

"I love playing for him," Sox third baseman Joe Crede said.

By the way, the White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 9-5 Tuesday night. They hit four dingers (including one by Swisher), tying a season high for home runs.

Ozzie Guillen: bus driver and genius!

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

In a June 3 column about Ozzie Guillen, a fact supplied by the ESPN research department was incomplete. One manager since 1900 has been fired with his team technically in first place -- Philadelphia's Pat Corrales was 43-42 (.50588 win percentage) when he was fired in 1983. St. Louis was 45-44 (.50561).

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

ALSO SEE