Consider if you will, somewhere in the world of sports a story where a team manager makes a public statement touching on the politics of the area. It goes very badly. The utterance so enrages the local government and status quo that he is made to apologize by a rattled, sanctimonious local leadership before being suspended. Not satisfied with this, a group of extremists associated with terrorist acts appears at the team’s home, vowing to boycott, calling for his being run out of town.
Given this mix of disregard for free speech, grand statements by petty bureaucrats, and terrorist thugs issuing threats, in what war-torn hellhole might you imagine this story unfolding? Bosnia? Mozambique? Tajikistan?
Try the United States.
When Ozzie Guillen’s mouth ran in Miami, the gale force winds blew away much cover for the rank hypocrisy of those who wrap themselves in the flag and “freedom”.
(Above: Vigilia Mambisa’s Miguel Saavedra, palling around with terrorists.)
Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement yesterday that he joined his community and “all freedom-loving people in condemning” Guillen’s comments.
What he didn’t mention is that the loudest of these “freedom-loving” people — the ones who plan to camp out in front of Marlins stadium — have proudly harbored violent terrorist thugs who “love freedom” so much they murdered dozens of innocent civilians in its name.
There is much to dislike about Castro’s Cuba. It’s certainly true that you don’t have to be a violent psychotic to be a Cuban expatriate screaming about “freedom”.
But it sure helps.
On October 6, 1976, Cuba Aviation Flight 455, a DC-8 passenger jet from Barbados to Jamaica was bombed in-flight. In what was then the deadliest terrorist attack in the western hemisphere, 78 passengers and crew were killed including the 1975 Cuban national fencing team.
The justice for this terrorist attack? None. The anti-Castro perpetrators — Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles — were sheltered in Miami for decades.
Yelling the loudest today about Guillen’s Castro comments we find the Miami “advocacy group” Vigilia Mambisa, a collection of anti-Castro extremists drawn from the group who did most of the sheltering of Bosch and Carriles.
Bosch died peacefully in Miami of old age last year. Carriles remains alive while the US’s wider “War On Terror” has somehow failed to send a drone attack aircraft to his home.
Perhaps Carriles will appear with Vigilia Mambisa on the anti-Ozzie picket line in front of Marlins stadium. Maybe he will hold a placard and yell for Ozzie’s ouster, happily using the free speech protection he would deny others — basking in the fresh air and sunshine he denied forever to 78 innocent civilians in 1976. If not him, then surely his friends will.
If we can endure that kind of disgusting hypocrisy, surely we can endure Ozzie Guillen.
(Above: Adam Dunn’s Appendix, 1979-2011)
After trading the Chicago Democratic Machine for the Miami Sound Machine, what’s been left behind in Ozzie’s wake? A GM fresh out of second chances. A farm system lacking a harvest. In the manager’s office, an untested former infielder struggles to figure out the phone system. A closer role mystery. A DH power outage. A 2012 White Sox team written off by baseball’s cognoscenti, the universal sentiment handing the Tigers the AL Central, some so confident as to predict double-digits.
Detroit’s formidable. But you don’t have to bleed black and silver to spot the flaws. Jim Leyland can only reach for Verlander six times a month. Fister and Porcello live for contact, relying on infield defense. That’s a real problem: Fielder and Cabrera at the corners will ensure, along with much sumo-wrestler-vs.-golf-ball hilarity, inflated ERAs for contact pitching. Delmon Young in left means similar RBI inflation for right handed pull hitters – short of giving a glove to 3B coach Gene Lamont, that baseline will be as blank as a Juggalo’s passport. Add in Detroit’s tendency to let runners on base score (finished 23rd in 2011 in defensive runs saved) and the Tabbies don’t look like a lock. Cap it off with the extra wild card courtesy of Bud Selig’s terminal case of playoff fever, and suddenly, things look very different.
On the Sox, much else looks radically altered in a positive direction. The two most important areas are in the pen and in the pop.
With the dealing of Sergio Santos and his ridiculously nasty slider to Toronto for Nestor Molina, eyes turned first to Matt Thornton to step into the closer role he left behind. Then, those same eyes were hidden behind hands cradling faces in agony as unwelcome memories returned of the last time he was given that job.
There is absolutely room for optimism with Thornton. One year following an offseason where the usually reclusive hurler went out of his way to complain to the media about both Ozzie Guillen and his attention-starved middle son Oney’s classless public airing of the ongoing personal problems of fellow reliever Bobby Jenks, Thornton today looks like somebody unburdened from an ongoing distraction. A transformation in his poise this spring is apparent, moving toward a Billy Wagneresque mound presence and away from the Charlie Brownian shitshow that marked his disastrous stint as closer last Aril and May. He’s calmer, more focused and substantial, sits at 96, his cutter retains bite and he’s hasn’t left his slurve up this spring. If he gets the closer nod as I believe he will, sure, the South Side has every reason to worry, but his spring also gives every reason to forgive.
A long-delayed order of lumber might finally arrive at 35th and Shields. Having openly copped to his early-season appendix surgery as the scapegoat for his dismal 2011, Adam Dunn has turned in a completely turned around Spring. A .263/.408/.596 line with 6 bombs, including a notable 2-HR day vs. Sox-killing lefty Bruce Chen, a restored look, radically improved plate discipline, a bending mobility around the waist and concomitant ease getting to balls outside all adds up to justified enthusiasm.
Add to this the mounting medical evidence that Dunn’s last year was a one-time-only outcome that couldn’t be repeated if he tried. Some evidence is of an inside nature; following the embattled slugger’s April 6 emergency operation to remove his inflamed appendix while on the road in Kansas City, Dunn’s liberated vestigal organ immediately took to Twitter:
In a classic case of middle management worrying more about the boss’s money than about the hired help, Ozzie decided to play the weakened DH two days following the surgery and every day after. Thus began Dunn’s agonizing, legendary limp to a season .159 average with 170+ Ks.
While this took many by surprise, at least one social media phenomenon walking the streets of Kansas City saw it all coming as early as April 20th. Before succumbing to an unknown fate (necrosis?, local barbecue pit?) Dunn’s Appendix tweeted:
Now we know why they say you should listen to your body.
White Sox: 86-76, snagging a wild card.
(Any further look into the future would clearly be irresponsible speculation.)
It’s incredible what can happen when a doctor is motivated to keep his perk-laden position. Most Americans, saddled with the crappiest outcomes for the most money spent on health care in the western world, often wonder about the enthusiasm or competence of the HMO sawbones we might get to see when we have a serious problem. But no such worries are suggested for patients wearing Boston Red Sox. A thorough going-over of RHP Bobby Jenks for back stiffness managed to catch a small pulmonary embolism on the hurler’s lung in time for treatment well before things got worse. Of course, White Sox Nation offers best wishes to Bobby, who has been shut down for the year. The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber is there to throw doctor-patient privilege to the wind:
“This was a very small — I mean, this is still nothing to mess around with — but it’s a very small embolism. They have it under control,” [Manager Terry] Francona said. “Certainly, they want it to go away, but I think they feel that he’s in good shape.”
Jenks was in the Red Sox clubhouse yesterday but wasn’t available for comment.
It’s been an injury-filled season for Jenks, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Sox last winter. He has made three trips to the disabled list for a right biceps strain and back tightness, and hasn’t pitched since July 7. In only 19 appearances, he posted a 6.32 ERA.
Francona said it’s possible Jenks also might require offseason surgery on his back. For now, though, it’s more important that he continues to be treated for the embolism, which isn’t expected to impact his ability to pitch next season.
White Sox 6 Diamondbacks 2
How many sides do you think you could retire immediately afterwards if you took a line drive/ground rule double to your melon? Roughly none? That’s because you’re not White Sox LHP John Danks.
It looked phenomenally ugly. When Steven Drew’s line drive comebacker ricocheted off of the hurler’s head in the fourth inning with enough force to sail into the stands over the Arizona dugout, the gasps were loud. Yet, incredibly, the only dismay registered by the enclobbered Texan on the mound was at giving up the runner. In a queasy couple of minutes, trainer Herm Schneider examined the perky, chuckling lefty and gave him the green light to stay in the game. While that couldn’t have won the good doctor many fans at the National Head Injury Foundation, pending a post-game examination, it turned out to be the right baseball move. Danks returned immediately to midgame form, later gave up two runs and nearly saw the lead fly out of the park courtesy of Melvin Mora. With runners on in the seventh, Danks preserved the lead, aided somehwat, it should be said, by Snakes skipper Kirk Gibson’s decision to send reliver Micah Owings to bat and an easy out with runners on.
Enjoying a dose of that too-elusive commodity called run support, including a Paul Konerko solo bomb and Alex Rios’ 5th dinger bringing in three, Danks cruised to his third victory on the season – and straight to a post-game CT scan. At press time there was no confirming the rumor that Adam Dunn was scheduled next in the medical machinery in a hunt for his missing batting average.
White Sox 15 Indians 10
“It’s going to take a lot of scoreless innings to bring that average back down to a respectable level,” cackled a gleeful Steve Stone from the booth in the 4th inning of an Opening Day Cleveland RHP Fausto Carmona (0-1, 30.00) would prefer to forget. Allowing 10 runs on 11 hits, including bombs to Adam Dunn and Carlos Quentin, the 27 year old Carmona’s sinker, not unlike my Bohemian’s grandmother’s dumplings, did more floating than sinking.
Sox offense, jolted suddenly awake after a spring training that saw only 11 wins, feasted on the offerings, producing expectations that unlike the past five, this Pale Hose April would be different. The team’s propensity for sleepy early seasons has irritated the South Side while it has given the Twins and Tigers the leads they needed to pull away into the playoffs in the up-for-grabs division. One 8 run inning can lead one to guess that’s over.
After one strikeout, Adam Dunn’s (4 RBI) casual swing sent what looked at first like a pop-up 10 rows back over the left field wall. Quentin’s (5 RBI) tater tagged the yellow line in right, sending the replay machinery into action before the index finger was ultimately twirled. Belts by every starter but Alex Rios piled into an 18-hit showing by the day’s end.
But after Mark Buehrle’s (W 1-0 6IP 8H 4R 1BB 0K) departure, the Tribe’s hits came at a similar pace, adding up to 10 runs from the 6th on. Recent North Side acquistion Will Ohman looked especially hapless, earning 3 runs and a 40.50 ERA before being sent into the Cleveland afternoon to hunt area thrift stores for Pere Ubu 7 inches.
(Above: Oney Guillen contemplates a career in the GOP)
When White Sox reliever Matt Thornton went on record in December about Ozzie Guillen’s son Oney’s tweeting and media habits being clubhouse poison during the slap-fight between Guillen and the departing-for-Boston Bobby Jenks, it became impossible to ignore the ramifications: instead of expecting confidentiality, players in their manager’s office had to watch their backs for daggers courtesy of the Guillen family’s half-bright middle child whose thirst for cheap attention far outstrips his capacity for excellence on the diamond.
What happened here with Oney tweeting what he did, that’s crossing a pretty big line in my personal opinion. That’s something that’s gotta be addressed quickly and taken care of and snuffed out real fast. Anytime you bring clubhouse stuff out in the open, I don’t care what it is, it’s that person’s personal business and also the clubhouse’s personal business.
Apparently, the only thing that was “snuffed out real fast” in the Guillen household was contrition. Any recognition of the giant ethical breach and lousy baseball management inherent in weaponizing private information on players flew out the window today when Ozzie explicitly threatened Bobby Jenks with more Oney-nism.
In a stomach-turning rant that looked past Jenks to his family – you know, the only family in this tawdry episode that isn’t milking it for web clicks and Twitter followers – Guillen proclaimed his respect for Jenks’ wife and kids by announcing that he would let his own kid drag them through the mud if Jenks didn’t shut up.
“He showed up once a week to pitch,” Guillen said. “We were loyal to him, played him. I was a very bad manager because I kept him as my closer when he couldn’t (close). He’s got to look himself in the mirror. Too bad. I still love his kids and wife.
Guillen joked that he was keeping a low profile and wanted spring training to run smoothly.
“Thank God he wasn’t talking about the club. If Bobby was taking about the club, I would have been everywhere on ESPN because I will rip his guts. But he was talking about me. I can take that. Just be careful of what you say about Oney because Oney will say stuff he’s not supposed to be saying. That’s just a warning for him just in case somebody don’t call him. Just stay away and don’t name Oney for this because it will be pretty ugly.”
Ozzie Guillen’s proclamations concerning the plight of Latino ballplayers this week had me thinking about Earl Bush. The press agent during most of the reign of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (father of the incumbent), Bush’s job was to massage the malformed utterances of his boss into comprehensible messages for the media. Oratory not being a Daley trait, it took constant effort. ”Write what he means, not what he says,” Bush once tiredly snarled at the press corps.
This is a service Ozzie Guillen could use. Because the White Sox skipper, right as he was about the general case of Latin American baseball players being routinely taken advantage of by the institution of baseball, actually has not done much to tell that story. Instead, he’s fired the starter pistol at the dumbass derby, prompting nothing more than another tsunami of outrage from the game’s dullest fans toward uppity newcomers to our country. Worse, Guillen has led his own organization to quietly distance itself from the truth, as the Sun-Times Joe Cowley notes:
From Curt Schilling to Eduardo Perez, Bobby Valentine to Nomar Garciaparra, former major-league players both of Latin descent and born right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. all publicly came out in support of the statements made by Ozzie Guillen.
His own White Sox organization? The same organization he has professed time and time again that he would ”die for”?
Well, cut them some slack, they were a little busy. After all, cleaning the tires of the bus they used to run over their seventh-year manager required a bit of time.
Even more embarrassing for ”The Club” was the fact that it refused to identify the driver of that bus Tuesday.
”The statement came on behalf of the entire White Sox organization, which is why there is no specific attribution, and we will not disclose who was involved with authorship,” Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert wrote in a text when asked about putting a name to the release.
It was in the wake of Guillen’s comments about the treatment of Latin players before the game Sunday that the Sox issued ”the statement,” with fun little shots such as this: ”This is an issue Ozzie Guillen obviously feels very passionately about. Ozzie certainly has his own experiences as a player, coach and manager, and is entitled to his own opinions, but the Chicago White Sox believe his views are incorrect.”
What is the the truth? Due to the hugely lopsided economic disparity between North America and its southern neighbors, Latin American kids, aged 15-16, are in fact pressured to come to the states to play ball. In stark contrast, adults from the US and from other places with pro ball infrastructures that the DR or Venezuela can only dream of having, are instead offered an opportunity. This distinction is huge, all-defining and of course totally lost on most of North America’s baseball fans, who are this week lining up at blog comment forms and radio call-in queues with nugget after nugget of speak-English-or-get-out stupidity in the wake of Ozzie’s softball blurts.
And softballs they were: “Japanese players skip the minors and Latino players don’t.” Yeah, no kidding: Japanese players are in pro leagues before they come here. ”Minor league teams don’t provide Spanish translators”. Yeah, no kidding: not only do a full third of the players speak Spanish already, you’re talking about the minor league: home of the modest salary. If there aren’t translators in the kitchens of the nation’s TGI Fridays (and there are not) why would anyone expect there to be one on duty for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans? May as well complain about the lack of jet transport.
Two untreated diseases called colonialism and neoliberal economics have produced the symptoms in MLB that Ozzie brings up. In the foreign countries most blessed with baseball talent, these diseases have performed as designed and extracted the local resources with a quickness, building training camps for teenagers instead of stadiums.
If US fans knew this, would we hear caller after caller echo how “millionaires should hire their own Spanish translators”? Lacking an Earl Bush, Ozzie needed to say it right. It’s too frustrating to see a blown opportunity where a blown whistle should have been.
(Above: DBacks focus efforts to calculate final pitch count in Jackson’s July 2nd no-hitter.)
In spite of USA Today’s Bob Nightengale throwing a wave of revulsion into the South Side over the momentary prospect of violent moron Brett Myers passing muster with Kenny Williams, ESPN has announced that the Sox have traded Daniel Hudson and prospect LHP David Holmberg for journeyman hurler Edwin Jackson, he of the recent 8-walk 149-pitch no-no against his former Tampa Bay teammates.
What remains to be seen is whether or not the deal is two legs of a table. The rumor mill concerning the Sox and Dunn has been spinning for more than two weeks, such chatter morphing into suggestions of a three-way pact putting EdJax to work for the Nats in exchange for Dunn’s stick. While it’s uncertain at press time if Kenny plans to flip or grip Jackson, maybe USA Today isn’t the place to be watching for the answer.
White Sox 6 Mariners 5
Following a contentious visit to the Comcast TV booth by White Sox legend Bill “Moose” Skowron, wherein one-man death panel Steve Stone helpfully offered to usher the 79 year-old first baseman into the next life Jack Kevorkian-style, the bony finger of death would next graze a considerably more deserving figure.
In the 4th inning, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, taking a break from ladling out city pension funds to imbecile relatives narrowly survived Andruw Jones’s assasination attempt by flying bat. Down 5-3 with a man on, Jones hacked at 1-2 Jason Vargas offering around the letters, loosing his lumber at the calculating coconut of the Mayor, who demonstrated the cat-like reflexes that have already foiled many a US Attorney.
Jones, a Dutch citizen, could not be reached for comment, but is expected to receive special tribute from the city in the form of parking citations bearing the cheerful orange Netherlands national color.
The Sox, whose sweep of the Ms boosts their home winning streak to 10, battled from behind, solo blasts from Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko closing the gap with the go-ahead courtesy of an Alex Rios RBI single. Closing duties fell to the enlarged and embattled Bobby Jenks, whose ridiculous 98 MPH heat silenced critics and produced a 1-2-3 outing characteristic of days long past…days like, you know, two weeks ago.
Last night’s complete game from RHP Carl Pavano (pictured, W, 11-6, 9IP, 7H, 2R, 6K, 0BB 3.48) put the Twins up 3-2, handing the Sox their second loss in a row, an occurence not seen since early June.
Yet, the Sox lead in the division grew to a game and a half with the second-place Tigers loss to Cleveland, the latter squad still working out their frustrations at losing the great Harvey Pekar last week.
Mark Buehrle (L, 8-8, 8IP, 9H, 3R, 3K, 0BB, 4.18) whose characteristic pace meshed with Pavano’s to bring the game in at 1 hour 52 minutes, picked off both Denard Span and Delmon Young at first, reddening Twins skipper Burl Ives noticeably.
South Side concerns going forward include the 0-4 Carlos Quentin and his recent HBP hand injury as well as a recent tendency for Paul Konerko to bite hard at away changups. The campaign for the series split begins this afternoon with Sweaty Freddy Garcia (9-3) vs. the comparatively moisture-free Nick Blackburn (7-7).