Guillen apologizes for use of homosexual slur

Updated: June 22, 2006, 12:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Outspoken Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen apologized Wednesday for using a derogatory term in referring to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti, then kept up his criticism of the writer.

Guillen went into a profanity-laced tirade against Mariotti before Tuesday night's game against St. Louis and called him a number of names, including a derogatory term that is often used to describe someone's sexual orientation.

"I don't have anything against those people. In my country, you call someone something like that and it is not the same as it is in this country."
Ozzie Guillen

Before Wednesday night's game, Guillen acknowledged that his use of the word might have offended some.

"I shouldn't have mentioned the name that was mentioned, but I'm not going to back off of Jay," Guillen said, using another profanity to describe Mariotti, a contributor on ESPN's "Around The Horn."

"The word I used, I should have used something different. A lot of people's feelings were hurt and I didn't mean it that way."

Guillen said he had spoken to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf about the incident.

"Jay, I think I made this guy a lot of money and he's famous. If not for Ozzie Guillen, no one would have heard of him," Guillen said. "If I hurt anybody with what I called him, I apologize."

Angry with a recent column by Mariotti critical of Guillen's handling of recently demoted relief pitcher Sean Tracey and upset with Mariotti over past columns, Guillen said to reporters when referring to Mariotti before Tuesday's game, "What a piece of [expletive] he is, [expletive] fag."

Mariotti, commenting on "Around The Horn" on Wednesday, believes a suspension is in order for Guillen.

Time for an Intervention
Ozzie Guillen's homosexual slur is less shocking than it is the continuation of a trend that has been gathering momentum and it's time for the White Sox to put an end to it, writes Mark Kreidler.

For Kreidler's column, click here.

When reached before Wednesday night's St. Louis-Chicago game, Mariotti said that the story is the gay groups who have been insulted, and not him.

But Mariotti added that he is not meeting Guillen or going to the White Sox clubhouse because he has been the subject of physical threats while there over the past few years and the White Sox have refused to do anything about it.

"I'm taking a stand," Mariotti said. "I've received physical threats through the years and the White Sox have done nothing to address it.

"I've said, 'If you guys are not going to do anything about this, I'm going to stop coming in there.' "

In a phone interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday night, Mariotti said his Thursday column will call for Guillen to be suspended.

"I'm a big guy. I have to accept the criticism," Mariotti said in a phone interview Wednesday night. "I'm appalled that he can use these ugly slurs and think it's an acceptable form of retaliation in American life. It's not."

Scott Reifert, the Chicago White Sox vice president of communications, said he was aware of one incident in 1997 of a shouting match between Mariotti and Tony Phillips, then a White Sox player. He said team officials and officials from the newspaper had lunch in the 90s to discuss Mariotti's complaints.

Since then, he said, the team has written letters to Mariotti and the newspaper offering to have a meeting and have offered to close the clubhouse for Mariotti to meet with the players, but the White Sox have not received any responses.

Reifert said the team had had good relationships with reporters and columnists and the team "stands on its reputation" for being open and accessible to reporters.

Commissioner's office spokesman Rich Levin said that Bud Selig learned of Guillen's remarks Wednesday afternoon.

"All I'm going to say at this point is that we're going to look into it," Levin told ESPN.com. He declined further comment.

Columnist Greg Couch of the Sun-Times wrote a column Wednesday in response, calling for commissioner Bud Selig to suspend Guillen for his use of a "hurtful homophobic" term.

Before writing the column, Couch asked Guillen for an explanation. Guillen defended his use of the term "fag" by saying this about homosexuals and the use of the word in question: "I don't have anything against those people. In my country, you call someone something like that and it is not the same as it is in this country.''

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Guillen said that in his native Venezuela, that word is not a reference to a person's sexuality, but to his courage. He said he was saying that Mariotti is "not man enough to meet me and talk about [things before writing].''

Guillen also told Couch that he has gay friends, attends WNBA games, went to a Madonna concert and plans to go to the Gay Games in Chicago.

"I called that of this man [Mariotti],'' he told Couch. "I'm not trying to hurt anybody [else]."

Reifert offered to apologize on behalf of the organization when approached by Couch.

"To anybody who was insulted or hurt by that comment ... as an organization, we'll certainly apologize," Reifert told Couch.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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