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Rosenthal: Guillen-Williams a soap opera
Seeing as how I picked the White Sox to win the World Series, I am perfectly within my rights to call for the heads of both general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen.
But, good sport that I am, I will refrain from any type of overheated, emotional reaction.
If only Williams and Guillen would do the same.
Kenny and Ozzie are endlessly entertaining, a reality show waiting to happen — and one that actually will happen, starting July 18 with the first of six episodes on the MLB Network.
Some with the White Sox believe the two no longer can co-exist, and a Chicago Sun-Times report that they nearly came to blows Tuesday only will reinforce that perception.
Well, too bad.
Both need to get over themselves, Guillen in particular. No more egos, no more sideshows. Focus on the White Sox, and only the White Sox, for a change.
As it stands, Team Wacko is nine games out in the AL Central as it prepares to visit the Cubs this weekend (MLB on FOX, Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET).
Williams confirmed he was open to trades this week, saying changes were necessary. The White Sox’s starting pitching, in particular, has been a major disappointment. But one internal adjustment -- an improved relationship between Williams and Guilllen -- would lead to a more stable working environment for all.
If owner Jerry Reinsdorf will not choose one man over the other -- and it sure doesn’t sound as if he is inclined to do so -- then the GM and manager will just need to climb back into the same sandbox.
It’s tempting to imagine the White Sox with a less volatile manager — say, former Indians skipper Eric Wedge, whose even temperament is the polar opposite of Guillen’s.
It’s less tempting, but intriguing, to imagine the White Sox with a different general manager — say, assistant GM Rick Hahn, who was named the No. 1 GM prospect in the majors by Baseball America in March.
Reinsdorf could elevate Hahn and promote Williams to club president, solving two problems at once — the Williams-Guillen conflict and the potential loss of Hahn, who could become a GM this offseason with a team such as the Mets or Cubs.
But Reinsdorf, at least at the moment, seems disinclined to disrupt the status quo. He maintains strong personal relationships with both Williams and Guillen. And don’t forget, the White Sox won the World Series in 2005 and AL Central in ’08 with the same unusual management brew.
In fact, Reinsdorf does not even sound all that disturbed by the season-long cold war between Guillen and Williams, which erupted again this week after the White Sox drafted Guillen’s youngest son, Ozney, in the 22nd round — 16 rounds below where the team took Williams’ son, Ken Jr., in 2008.
Ozzie predictably took umbrage, leading to his reported shouting match with Williams.His middle son, Oney, a team employee who resigned from the club after a series of provocative tweets in spring training, all but accused the Sox of sabotaging his younger brother, again via Twitter.
Never mind that 29 other clubs could have selected Ozney before he went at No. 668 overall, or that Ozney can now raise his stock at the University of South Florida.
Team Wacko strikes again.
“It’s a natural thing for there to be tensions,” Reinsdorf told MLB.com. “When you are on the way to winning a World Series, everyone is lovey-dovey and hugging and kissing each other. When things aren’t going well, there are just tensions, natural tensions.
“If we win five or six games in a row, it will go away. If we keep playing the way we are playing, then the tensions will continue. But it will all pass at some point.”
Easy for Reinsdorf to say.
Williams, in the same MLB.com article, said, “If I determine that I am the one that is the cog in the machine (holding the White Sox back), then I am the one who will stand in front of Jerry Reinsdorf and tell him so and step aside . . . I will not deny that I am growing weary of the soap opera.”
Williams never would convince himself that he is the sole problem, even if that were the case. He also would not sacrifice his income or his power just because Guillen was a massive pain in his rear.
He hired Guillen. He won with Guillen. He needs to stop taking himself so seriously and view Guillen’s eccentricities the way he would those of a nutty old uncle.
Guillen, in his seventh season, is not going to change.
I never thought Ozzie would last this long. A part of me suspects that the White Sox would be better off without him; the players might respond better to a less erratic, more conventional manager. Then again, the Guillen distractions work both ways; the players would draw far greater scrutiny if say, Wedge or bench coach Joey Cora were manager.
Reinsdorf is right — a five- or six-game winning streak would sweep much of this silliness aside. Problem is, the White Sox have yet to win more than three straight, and they’ve managed that modest feat only once.
Losing exacerbates every perceived slight, which is why Reinsdorf should arrange for a summit and order Williams and Guillen to each take a deep breath and move on.
In spring training, Williams said Guillen was “like a brother” to him. Guillen pointed out, correctly, that Joe Torre and Brian Cashman did not always get along with the Yankees.
A professional relationship might be all that is possible now, but a professional relationship should be enough.
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