Why did Ozzie Guillen receive a free pass?
Much has been written in the past week about Jose Reyes’ actions on the final day of the regular season to secure the National League batting title. However, where was the uproar of the way Ozzie Guillen ran out on the Chicago White Sox with two games to go in the regular season?
To review, Reyes of the New York Mets led Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers by less than two points in the race for the NL batting crown going into the final day of the season. Reyes bunted for a hit in the first inning, then promptly took himself out the game. He finished the season hitting .337, meaning Braun would have to go 3 for 4 later in the day to win the title. Braun went 0 for 4 and his average dropped to .334. Many were up in arms, saying what Reyes did was selfish.
I had no problem with Reyes’ actions. I thought what Guillen did was much worse.
Guillen, the manager of the Chicago White Sox, left the team following Monday’s game, two days before their season came to an end. In spring training, the White Sox had picked up the option year (2012) on Guillen’s contract. However, Guillen wanted a new deal, one with longer security. After meeting with management Monday and seeing that wasn’t going to happen, Guillen asked to be released from his contract.
All of that was fine, except for one thing — the timing of it. There were two games to go in the regular season.
Look, I’m an Ozzie Guillen fan. How can you not be? He was a hard-nosed player who lasted 16 years in the majors. He was fundamentally sound and I loved watching him play. What I remember about him most as a player was him making a great slide at the plate to score when he was with the Atlanta Braves. How many players today even know to slide properly?
As a manager, he was even better. He led the White Sox to the 2005 World Series title, their first since 1917. He got them back to the playoffs in 2008. He had the support of his players and he is considered a player’s manager.
And need we talk about his tact? Or is it the lack of tact? Either way, you know where you stand with Guillen, and that’s refreshing. He says what is on his mind, take it or leave it. As my father would say, “He’s a real pisser.” (Trust me, that’s a compliment.)
I know the White Sox were out of playoff contention weeks ago, so missing the final two games of the regular season didn’t matter.
But what would his reaction have been if one of his free agent players, who had already decided he wasn’t going to return to Chicago, left the team once they were officially eliminated from the postseason race?
I’m betting it would have been another memorable sound bite.
Look, it was a foregone conclusion Guillen was going to the Florida — soon to be Miami — Marlins. Jack McKeon was hired midseason to finish out the year with the Marlins. He knew he wasn’t coming back in that role. What was the hurry to hire Guillen before the season ended?
Waiting two more days would have been the right thing to do.