NEWS

Mike Nadel: GM to Ozzie: More leading, less whining

Mike Nadel

It's OK to bash the fans and the media. It's OK to question the players' motives. It's OK to threaten to quit. It's OK to make insensitive, vulgar comments. It's OK to tear into opponents. It's even OK to say the White Sox can stick the 2005 World Series trophy where the sun doesn't shine.

Apparently, though, it's not OK to lob grenades at the boss. Who knew?

This time, Ken Williams isn't chuckling dismissively at more Ozzie Guillen bluster and saying: "Relax, everybody, it's just Ozzie being Ozzie." Because this time, the Sox skipper went after Williams, his general manager.

"If we think we're gonna win with the offense we have, we're full of (bleep). Let's just be honest," Guillen said in a Sunday diatribe that has aired incessantly on ESPN and has appeared in hundreds of newspapers.

"I expect Kenny to do something Tuesday. And if we don't do anything Tuesday, there will be a lot of changes in the lineup. It can be me. It can be (hitting coach) Greg Walker. It can be the players. Anybody. I'm sick and tired to watch this thing for a year and a half. I'm not protecting anybody anymore. (Bleep) it! If they can't get it done, Kenny should find someone to get it done."

That's right: The manager of a first-place team issued ultimatums and deadlines to his superior -- and the superior was none too pleased.

"It's never a good idea to throw your boss under the bus, especially when that boss has had his back as much as I have," Williams told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I guess that lineup will be real interesting to see on Tuesday. If you're looking for a quick fix personnel-wise, with the climate right now, you're not going to get it. I expect more of everyone in that uniform and certainly the guy leading the team on the field." (Williams made similar comments to the Tribune.)

In other words: Stop whining, Ozzie. Stop blaming others. Start being a leader.

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf believes this team is better than the '05 club. He's wrong, but he's the man who writes the checks. Williams, meanwhile, is very proud of his handiwork and yearns to laugh in the faces of those who picked the Sox to finish fourth. Plus, the White Sox have one of baseball's highest payrolls. So there is pressure to win.

But if you think Guillen's job is in jeopardy, you've been partying too much with Joakim Noah.

Guillen's contract recently was extended to 2012. Reinsdorf, who doubles as chairman of Chicago's NBA franchise, is still paying millions to ex-Bulls coach Scott Skiles. It will take more than another rant to make Reinsdorf and Williams admit they were wrong about Ozzie.

Then there's this: Guillen's bluster actually included some valid points.

Two days before Ozzie went bonkers, I received this e-mail from Sox fan Doug Bybee of Springfield: "Jim Thome, the nicest guy in baseball, is old, slow and hitting .209. We owe Paul Konerko; he re-signed with us a few years back, when he could have received a higher salary elsewhere. But Paulie is batting .211. Nick Swisher is the best clubhouse guy in baseball ... but he has a suspect glove and is hitting .203. We can't carry all three lads in the same lineup and win the division."

A desperate Guillen obviously agrees. He knows that if each starter goes into every game thinking he must pitch a shutout, the staff eventually will cave. He knows the White Sox, at 30-26, lead the AL Central only because Cleveland and Detroit started poorly; Chicago bats must wake up before the Indians and Tigers do.

Judging by his comments, Ozzie also might agree with those clamoring for a new hitting coach -- though it's hard to believe Walker is responsible for Thome and Konerko getting old.

Anyway, as Williams said, it will be interesting to see Ozzie's lineup for tonight's home game against Kansas City.

Maybe Ozzie Guillen Jr., Oney Guillen and Ozney Guillen will replace Thome, Konerko and Swisher. Maybe Guillen will bring his own pop-gun bat out of retirement and take over at shortstop for selfish underachiever Orlando Cabrera. Maybe Michael Jordan still wants to play ball.

Hey, if you've ever hit a home run in slow-pitch softball, maybe you should let Williams know you're available. Just make it quick. Ozzie's deadline is looming.

Mike Nadel (mikenadel@sbcglobal.net) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.