Guillen fined, ordered to take sensitivity training for slur
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on Thursday was fined an undisclosed amount of money and ordered to undergo sensitivity training for his use of a derogatory term aimed at Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti.
|Ozzie Guillen insults. Apologizes. Tries to move past it. But his latest slight isn't quite that simple. It's part of a troubling trend. Gene Wojciechowski reports from Chicago. Story.|
"On Tuesday night, Ozzie Guillen used language that is offensive and completely unacceptable," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Baseball is a social institution with responsibility to set appropriate tone and example. Conduct or language that reflects otherwise will not be tolerated. The use of slurs embarrasses the individual, the club and the game."
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.
Guillen met with reporters Thursday before leaving U.S. Cellular Field to serve his suspension, saying as he did Wednesday that he used the wrong word. He said he agreed with Selig's punishment. He also vowed not to let up on Mariotti.
"The commissioner did what he had to do," Guillen said. "They don't agree with what I say. Me either. I agree with what I say about Jay. ... I'm not going to change. One thing I'm going to make clear is I apologize to the community, but to Jay, no chance. This thing is on and on for good."
Guillen told ESPNdeportes.com that he would continue to speak his mind on different topics.
"I won't stop myself from saying what I feel, and I'd rather move to Venezuela, enjoy my money and leave all this behind before changing the way I am," Guillen said. "I have to continue the same way because I've had plenty of success the way I am, and changing would be hypocritical."
Major League Baseball asked the White Sox to set up the sensitivity training and spokesman Scott Reifert said the team would do so, using its employee assistance program, with specifics to be determined.
Guillen said he wasn't sure what sensitivity training would entail, but would abide by the ruling.
"What class? What is it? Mr. Selig said I have to do something about this,'' Guillen said. "It was not good for me and baseball to be involved in this.''
Guillen said team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf "reprimanded me as a friend.''
"Jerry is behind Major League Baseball about this decision to fine me. I respect that. It's good for baseball because I put Bud Selig in a spot he's not supposed to be. It's done and hopefully we will learn from this and move on.''
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 told ESPNdeportes.com that his apology extends only to the gay community.
"I've apologized to the entire gay community if my comments made them feel bad, but I'd like to clarify that I was referring to just one person. In what involves Mariotti, there's no way I'm apologizing to him," Guillen said.
"I have nothing against the gay community and I accept the commissioner's punishment. I don't regret having treated that journalist that way, but I'm a little concerned that I mistreated the gay community in that way."
Guillen said he had spoken to 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, said then he believed a suspension was in order for Guillen.
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.
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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."
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.
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.''
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.
Guillen, who led the White Sox to their first World Series title in 88 years last season, has gotten into trouble several times with his comments.
Guillen said he's not afraid to lose his job over such incidents.
"I'm going to keep this job for a long time. I'm going to lose my job depending on how my team plays. When teams play bad, the manager pays for it, but my team has played pretty well since I got here," said Guillen. "The day they fire me will be because the team isn't winning or because I'm not doing a good job."
In spring training this year, he apologized to Alex Rodriguez for comments he made in a Sports Illustrated article in which he criticized the Yankees' star for waffling on his choice of countries for the World Baseball Classic.
In his first season, Guillen called umpire Hunter Wendelstedt a liar. Later in the season, Guillen sarcastically referred to Buck Showalter of the Rangers as the best manager in the history of baseball and the guy who invented the game -- all after Showalter questioned Guillen's knowledge of the rules.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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