Time for Ozzie to zip it

By Rick Morrissey
Updated: August 21, 2010

CHICAGO — Ozzie Guillen’s rants are starting to run together. Somebody help me with the last one: Was it that Jim Thome is treated better than Latin players?

Or was it that Japanese players and their translators are deemed more important than Oney Guillen’s inalienable right to have a Twitter account?

Was it Nick Swisher whom Guillen accused of moping around the clubhouse, or was the moper Ken Williams? Was the ”Venezuelan piece of [bleep]” Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee or Gordon Beckham?

What will today’s stream of consciousness from the White Sox’ manager be: that nobody believes in his team except him, or that he happily will retire to his boat in Miami if Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t think he’s doing a good job?

It’s all a cartoonish ball of words bouncing down a hill, with a leg and tongue and TV camera protruding from the verbiage every now and then.

Perhaps it’s simply a bad case of Ozzie fatigue in mid-August, but I’m tired of listening to this stuff. We’re told it’s Ozzie being Ozzie, as if that’s explanation enough. Can’t a guy be sick of Ozzie being Ozzie?

In the grand scheme of things, the fact that Guillen’s drug of choice is a microphone isn’t a big deal. But I do worry about the cumulative effect on our brains after years of listening to the Say Anything Kid.

I’m biting the hand that feeds me wonderful quotes. I know this. Yet too much of what Guillen says ends up being nonsense, and somebody needs to call him on it.

Unnecessary shot at Thome

Ozzie’s verbal outbursts are not a tactical move meant to take pressure off his team, as some observers have suggested. Don’t mistake the outrageousness for what it really is, which is a deep need for the spotlight. It’s not calculated; it’s impulsive. Is it a family thing? I don’t know, but if the Guillens are a blaring stereo, then Ozzie is the woofer and son Oney the tweeter.

The appropriate response after Thome beat the Sox with a 10th-inning home run last week would have been for Guillen to tip his cap to the Twins’ designated hitter.

Guillen did, briefly, then went on a rant against those who criticized him for implementing a DH-by-committee this season. I had no problem with the move when he made it in the offseason. It led to Thome signing with the Twins. It hasn’t worked out to the Sox’ benefit. So you move on.

But not Guillen, who had to point out that the Sox made the playoffs only once in the four years Thome played in Chicago. Was that necessary?

Had the roar of dissent over not re-signing Thome been so loud that it called for that kind of shot? Even if he was furious about the criticism from fans, Guillen should have stood up and quietly taken the abuse.

Unfortunately, he has the habit of reading e-mails from every knucklehead with access to a computer. And he might as well be in his third trimester, he’s so sensitive.

How can someone with such strong opinions be so thin-skinned? It’s like a soldier who gets offended that the enemy has the gall to return fire.

This isn’t personal. Ozzie didn’t call me a name once, and I didn’t burst into tears in response. I like the man. He’s fun to talk with, he’s a quote machine for us media types and he’s refreshingly free with his thoughts.

But come on.

There’s a similarity to Big Z

His recent comments about Japanese players getting preferential treatment over Latin players was, if not flat-out wrong, then at least incredibly uninformed. There are relatively few Japanese players in the big leagues, and the vast majority of them come straight from Japan to the majors.

That means most don’t know English when they arrive and need translators. Most Latin players spend time in the minors in the United States, and most organizations provide tutors to teach them English.

Those players are better equipped, language-wise, when they make the bigs.

The controversy made for a few days of national attention, which — hey, wait a second — might have been the whole idea.

Should Ozzie zip his lips? Would it affect his team negatively if he did?

It’s a little like the old debate about Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, which since has been answered: Would Big Z become a lesser pitcher if he ratcheted down his rage by a smashed water cooler or two each season?


Same with Ozzie: Would the Sox be worse off if he toned down his act?

No. In that question is the implication that his players wouldn’t be where they are without his shadow and loudspeaker blanketing them. It’s insulting.

From the day Guillen was hired seven seasons ago, people have been saying that his act would get old and that he’d eventually do himself in as Sox manager. He’s about an inch from the point where those same people will stop taking him seriously.

From there, it will be a quick trip down a slippery, tongue-shaped slope. How long before he’s boxing Jose Canseco or setting up his sons with the Kardashians?

He needs to decide what he wants to be.