Paul Ladewski: Ozzie Guillen for (expletive) president
God bless Ozzie Guillen.
Do you realize how dull, how boring the baseball season would be without the White Sox manager to shoot from the lip, call out his overpriced underachievers, criticize double standards in the Cubbie-blue media, say all the things that many of us would like to say if only we had the forum and the testosterone to say it?
“One-hundred-million-dollar payroll, and those guys don’t show how much they make in the field,” Guillen seethed after another pathetic loss in Texas the other day. “Well, I don’t say what (general manager) Kenny (Williams) has to do, but we play like this and spend all that money on the club like that, I will shut the payroll and go with Double-A kids if we have to.”
Ozzie Guillen for (expletive) president!
Problem is, for the players to get the message, they have to know it comes from a boss who’s here to stay. In the case of Guillen, whose contract is slated to expire after the 2008 season, there’s no better time for the front office to make a long-term commitment.
“I want to be the White Sox manager for a long time, but it’s not up to me,” Guillen told me last week. “It’s up to Kenny and (board chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf). They haven’t talked to me about it. To be honest, I don’t want to talk about it now. There are other things we have to get done with this team in the next few weeks.”
It may seem like a weird time to reward a manager whose team has gone from first to worst in two years. But if Williams and Reinsdorf are as committed to Guillen as they claim - and except for his few too many bleeps, there’s no reason for them not to be -why put off the inevitable?
Given the (expletive) that one of the most successful managers in Chicago baseball history has endured the last five months, he deserves as much.
“They’re killing me,” said Guillen, hopefully a better manager than he is a prophet. “They’re killing my family. They’re killing my coaching staff. Kill the White Sox fans. They kill the owner. They kill everyone. I hope they feel the same way we feel.”
Except for supersaver Bobby Jenks, not one Sox player has gone above and beyond this season. Not a stinkin’ one. But forget the numbers. Far worse is the way the players have gone about their business, the way that they quit on themselves, the fans and the organization. This is a bunch of sad sacks that rarely shows heart in the face of adversity, pride in performance and enthusiasm for the game.
Save one notable exception, of course.
“I hope somebody out there cares the way we care,” Guillen said. “Good guys or nice guys finish (expletive) last. I’m tired of seeing that (crap), day in and day out. And I don’t want to spend a miserable September seeing the same (crap). If I have to see the same (crap), I told Kenny, ‘Bring somebody up. (Expletive) it.’ If it’s my fault, I should be moving out of here then. If it’s my fault, (expletive) fire my (butt) and I’ll be fine. I have the job to do, and I get paid a lot of (expletive) money to make this club work, but it’s not easy to work with people like that. It’s not easy.”
Guillen shouldn’t have to be the one to vent after every lame defeat. There should be a chorus in the clubhouse that says as much for him.
Hello-o-o-o-o, players, we can’t hear you.
Except for Mark Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski, I don’t recall another guy who hung out his dirty Sox in public this summer. In the case of Buehrle, who pitches every fifth day, it’s difficult to assume a leadership role. But where are the others?
I know team captain Paul Konerko lost his legs years ago, but when was his larynx removed?
Indeed, if Williams made a mistake last winter, it’s that he overestimated the veteran leadership on the team. Then again, it was an easy mistake for a GM to make in his position. Lest we forget, it was only two years ago when this same core group answered the challenge in the final days of the regular season, then passed the October stress test like few teams ever had.
There was the hint of a crack in the foundation last September, when the Sox dropped like a rock over the final weeks. Still, when a team performs the kind of miracle not seen in 88 years here, wins a combined 189 games in back-to-back seasons, doesn’t it deserve a longer leash?
Guess we know the answer now.
As urgent as the situation on the South Side is, it’s not hopeless. Say buh-bye to Darin Erstad and Juan Uribe after the season. Trade Jose Contreras for a box of Cubans. Sign the best value among center fielders Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand, and shortstops David Eckstein and Omar Vizquel in the open market. But do none of it until the manager is firmly in place.
Until then, give ’em heck, Oswaldo.
Paul Ladewski can be reached at email@example.com