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Ozzie Guillen traffics in metaphor, is predictably misunderstood

May 30, 2011, 8:22 AM EDT

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians Getty Images

Ozzie Guillen was apparently not in a very good mood in the wake of Saturday’s ugly extra innings loss, because yesterday morning he went off.  Most of the comments were about his coaches, how managers approach their job differently than players and fans do and about how much he cares about the White Sox, even though he wishes he didn’t care so much because not caring would be so much easier.

The comments that are getting all of the play, however, are the comments about the fans. Specifically, Guillen’s claim that the fans don’t care about him or the coaching staff and about how they are ungrateful for anything since the 2005 World Series championship. Here’s a link to the video of Guillen’s extended comments at CSN Chicago. The comments that are getting play start at around 11:40:

“Are they going to feel sorry because we’re going to get fired? F— no. They only remember us from 2005. In 2020 we’ll come here in a wheel chair all f—– up. As soon as you leave the ballpark they don’t care about you anymore. They don’t. The monuments, the statue they got, they pee on it when they’re drunk. That’s all they do. Thank you for coming, bye-bye.”

These comments were reported throughout the day yesterday by multiple outlets.  Last night, however, Guillen took to Twitter and ranted about the way they were being reported, and denied that he said anything about fans and alcohol. Here’s are his tweets from around 9PM last night, strung together for clarity but otherwise unedited because, man, no one could pay me enough to edit Ozzie Guillen:

Thas bull crap what the media print today about celular field and the fans … The should print and said everything I said thas low blow and imrresponsable no clas … Bunch a crap … No mention any fans and alcohol … Press asociacion print you name who put that today tha will be fear … I have the enterviu on tape I whish I can sue then thas a very low blow … Allways take stuff out the contest [I assume that means context] put people in bad situation to people can read then … What a hell I going to say bad thing about white sox fan they are behind me all my carrer a less most of then

Guillen’s more official statement, released by the White Sox, is as follows:

“If anyone listens to the entire conversation or reads a transcript of what I said, they will see my comments were not directed as criticism of White Sox fans.”

I watched the entire video at the link above. If you have the time you should too, because his comments provide some pretty interesting insight into the mind of a manager, not just the typical “Ozzie said something crazy” kind of thing. If someone reported just the stuff Guillen said about the fans at the 11-12 minute mark and and none of his other comments, Ozzie has a valid argument that his words were cast in a misleading light inasmuch as he did not set out to specifically and exclusively rip fans.  It was a very small part of a larger monologue and, in context, they seem fairly benign and reflective, not malicious toward fans. One could even make the argument that the “peeing on the monuments” thing was a metaphor, though I don’t expect many will actually make that argument.

That said, the secondhand reports I’ve read, including stories at the Chicago Tribune and ESPN Chicago, do a fairly decent job of describing the context, and the “no mention any fans and alcohol” is just wrong, as is clear from the videotape, so it’s not like Guillen’s indignation is excessively righteous, even if I tend to take his side here and don’t take any real issue with what he said.

To me this sounds like a situation in which Ozzie was surprised that what he said was actually reported.  Which, given what I’ve heard about what it’s like to cover Guillen, is not a total shocker.  He’s known to go off on profane and rather hilarious rants about things in the presence of reporters. I was once around him when he went off about the Tiger Woods sex scandal, and to this day I still have laughing fits thinking about it.

Unlike that kind of thing, however, what he said here was in an actual manager press conference with film rolling, not a casual conversation in the hallway of a hotel at the Winter Meetings. And the comments were newsworthy, given that they were about his team and his job, not about Tiger Woods. And given how this whole quote/react game works, it’s understandable if people are raising eyebrows about it all, because what he said is not the usual cliche-dripping stuff that tends to come out of the mouths of managers.

But I can’t get worked up about all of this, because what he’s saying is pretty much true. People don’t care what you did six years ago, they care about the here and now. Maybe Ozzie shouldn’t simply come out and say that stuff because people tend to not be able to handle that kind of truth coming from baseball managers (and because Ozzie lends himself to misinterpretation because, well, he’s Ozzie).  But no, I’m not going to go along with the idea that his comments are a big a deal worthy of controversy.

  1. Cyn - May 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    “People don’t care what you did six years ago, they care about the here and now. ”

    This is a fuzzy area for me. Because while I understand your point, I don’t think it’s as black and white as you stated it. Baseball fans (and baseball historians), like almost no other sport, focus on the history of the game and their teams. Dwight Evans never won a World Series with the Red Sox and won’t be in Cooperstown (heck, he didn’t even finish his playing career in Boston) but when he shows up at Fenway he’s treated like royalty by the fans. Same can be said for many other players not only in Boston but all around MLB. Fans aren’t going to care about you in six years if they think you’re being an ass to them now but, generally speaking, fans memories are long. While in the moment of a game or a season they might be wondering “what have you done for us lately?”, they never forget the players (and even mangers and coaches) they truly liked.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 30, 2011 at 9:03 AM

      I take that to relate mostly to real time criticism of the manager. There will certainly be a day when fans look back at Ozzie Guillen with joy. On a given Saturday following a loss, however, they are not prone to thinking “hey, he’s been a good manager here for years and brought us a world title.” They’re thinking “God, you’re a moron!”

      Wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing didn’t happen even with loved players like Evans while he was playing. If he took a strike three with the bases loaded in a tough game in, like, 1985, no one was going to say “we as Red Sox Nation love Dewey!” at that moment.

  2. yankeesfanlen - May 30, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    And they say Cashman wants to be fired!

  3. cur68 - May 30, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    I shall miss Ozzie when he gets the axe. No one can mangle syntax like him while at the same time conveying raw emotion, angst and existential suffering. I wish the Sox every success so as Ozzie keeps his job. So long as they don’t beat the Beavermnen, may they go on a 10 game win streak.

    • Old Gator - May 30, 2011 at 12:09 PM

      Not true. You work in a hospital, right? Go upstairs where they warehouse the dementia praecox set and engage in a conversation with them. I think you will find quite a few who can mangle syntax with a facility that reclassifies Ozzie as the amateur that he really is. Why? because sufferers of schizophrenia, in one of those bleak ironies woven so insistently through human existence, often also demonstrate remarkably high intelligence quotients – unlike, say, Ozzie.

      • cur68 - May 30, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        Your point, sir. However I have spent many a long hour among the differently sane (schizophrenics) and have to say, they are a quirky bunch. Did you know, they don’t dream much? True. Many seem to suffer from a condition I think of as ‘poor dream sleep states’. That’s why Ozzie is so much better. That guy can dream. He can dream big.

        BTW; can we go with “pilodinate” instead of “vulvate”? I can’ even look at Ozzie’s picture without seeing a … you know. It’s really weird. It’s much easier to dislike a pilodinal cyst type thing. I just can’t bring myself to go; “eeewww, gross…vulvate.” Its very conflicting.

      • Old Gator - May 30, 2011 at 4:46 PM

        I like “pilodinate.” I can work with that. I mean, metaphorically.

        Okay, gotta pour me another virgin banana daiquiri and get back to reading Oliver Sacks. The Feesh don’t go on until eight.

  4. paperlions - May 30, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone summarize being a coach/manager quite the way Ozzie does, and there is a lot of truth in there. My favorite line (kind of paraphrasing): “when the players are good, we’re good; when the players are bad, they’re still good, we’re the bad guys”.

  5. jimbo1949 - May 30, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    The Latino Casey Stengel. Don’t ever change, Oz.

    • Old Gator - May 30, 2011 at 10:27 PM

      Casey sounded lucid as Cicero compared to the gibberish that expectorates from that pilodinate vulvic welt under Ozzie’s nose.

      • cur68 - May 31, 2011 at 12:59 AM

        Hey man! have mercy here! “Pilodinate vulvic welt”??? I’m going to have nightmares, you know? Jeez, you’d think you’d find this easy Gator. You have erudition like I have nose hairs; it just sprouts of you, no effort. Puh-leeeeeeaaaaasssse use some of that and spare me the comparisons to home base??

  6. The Rabbit - May 30, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    My cat, Ozzie G, and I watched the entire video and agree completely.
    In this age of spin doctors, scripted BS by politicians, entertainers, athletes and the media, and the extreme ideas regarding “political correctness”, it’s refreshing to see uncensored, unedited opinions.
    Now, if only we could get some perspective (Thanks Craig!) in lieu of hysteria and baiting from the reporting entities, we might actually have a chance that original thought (and democracy) can survive.

    • mgflolox - May 30, 2011 at 9:39 PM

      It’s kind of funny, most managers and ballplayers are so good at regurgitating the same, tired old bullsh!t that reporters get frustrated by not getting any real insight into the true state of the team. Then when somebody like Ozzie comes along and actually gives you his unvarnished take on things, the media distorts or blows it way out of proportion. And they wonder why players, managers and coaches don’t want to tell them anything.

      • Old Gator - May 30, 2011 at 10:32 PM

        Ozzie has developed a strain of tired old bullshit that is distinctively his own. I suppose that in a culture whose news organs report the results of American Idol more prominently than the current state of the Fukushima meltdown, pioneering a unique brand of tired old bullshit counts as some kind of accomplishment.

        Personally, I think my recipe for smoked Gruyere morel mushroom quiche has done more to advance the species towards Karellan’s designated meeting with the Overmind than anything Ozzie has gibbered about – but that’s just me.

  7. jimeejohnson - May 30, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    His name is Ozzie. You gotta expect some crazy behavior just because of THAT! Ozie’s a modern day Casey Stengel in that some of his teams were as lame as the early NY Mets teams! Glad he won a World Series.

  8. jimeejohnson - May 30, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    Ozie’s = Ozzie’s

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