Jerry Reinsdorf averts war of words with Ozzie Guillen
By Joe Cowley firstname.lastname@example.org January 23, 2012 10:38PM
After Jake Peavy recently said that Ozzie Guillen quit on the White Sox last season, Guillen unleashed a set of warnings on Twitter that he would air some of the organization’s dirty laundry. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf then issued a pre-emptive strike.
Updated: February 25, 2012 8:22AM
Breathe, White Sox.
Because a Category 5 hurricane was making its way up from Miami, straight for the South Side. Thanks to Jerry Reinsdorf, disaster was averted.
“When I’m mad, that’s one thing,’’ former Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told the Sun-Times on Monday. “But when I’m hurt, that’s when I can be dangerous.’’
And Guillen was hurt.
Hurt by recent comments coming from members of his organization that he was a quitter. Hurt because no one from the organization emerged to shed some truth on his departure for the Miami Marlins at the end of last season. Hurt that “all the bull----” was still raging.
So when the Sox got wind over the weekend that once Guillen returned from Venezuela this week, some f-bombs were going to be dropped on the organization, the Chairman took pre-emptive action.
In a statement issued late in the afternoon, Reinsdorf said: “Regarding Ozzie Guillen’s departure as White Sox manager last September, I want to make it clear that he left with our organization’s blessing and at my urging. Ozzie told me he wanted to finish out the year, the Marlins really wanted him in Miami for the conclusion of the season, and I told him that he had no choice but to go given the excitement surrounding the opening of their new stadium and the unveiling of their new uniforms. Ozzie needed to be in Miami at the end of the season for the Marlins.
“We will always be grateful for the 21 seasons Ozzie spent in a White Sox uniform as a player and coach, especially his role in helping us win the 2005 World Series championship. We wish him nothing but the best.”
The timing of it was genius.
This weekend is SoxFest, and the last thing the Chairman wanted was his annual event coated in soot in the wake of a verbal napalming by Guillen.
That’s where this was headed.
The Guillen-Ken Williams feud was well-documented the last two years. A split was inevitable.
The problem was that Guillen wanted to finish the 2011 season with the Sox, but the Marlins wanted him in South Beach to negotiate his new deal, as well as to be there for the last home game at the old stadium. So Reinsdorf told him he had to leave with two games left.
But the “Ozzie Quit on the Sox” legend grew, not only from fans but, as far as Guillen was concerned, his former organization.
Pitcher Jake Peavy was the latest to infer that Guillen quit, saying as much during a recent radio interview. But Peavy wasn’t alone.
“A couple of the broadcasters even said things about me since the end of the season,” Guillen said. “You can’t act one way toward me and then go on the radio and say, ‘Ozzie quit, Ozzie is greedy, Ozzie’s wife is greedy.’ You don’t know the story.”
Guillen’s hope is that Reinsdorf’s statement tells the story.
“To me, it’s a relief more than anything,” Guillen said. “You call me a quitter; that’s a big statement. I never quit. I always said when the plane was going down, I would be the first to die. The thing that bothered me is that no one from the Sox was coming out and saying anything about it. Not saying that’s not what happened, not a thank you, not a good luck, not even a f--- you. Nothing.
“They just let people think I quit. I just hope this is the end of the bull----. I don’t want to keep talking about the White Sox when I have another job.”
But it’s not like Reinsdorf just decided to come out with this statement for the heck of it. Warning shots were fired.
Guillen had enough of the “quitter” comments, so he took to his Twitter account over the weekend.
“When i get to chitown lets make one thing clear what happen last day whit the sox stay tune,” Guillen tweeted.
He also wrote, “I will kill peoples fellings no mercy. . . . People want me to look bad. . . . Put u seat belt on.”
That was enough to start the damage control on the Sox’ end.
First, Peavy tweeted, “Hey y’all enough please said it before & again now I Love @OzzieGuillen and have all the respect in the world for him and his family.”
Then came the Reinsdorf statement.
Guillen knew the timing of each was not a coincidence, but cared more that the truth was out.
“I have all the respect for Jerry. I don’t love him like I used to,” Guillen said, laughing, “but I will always be his friend.
“[Reinsdorf’s statement is] important for me because during SoxFest, I will be in Chicago. I want to go places with my head up. If people don’t like me, they don’t like me. But they want to call me a quitter, that’s wrong. Now that the truth is out there, I can look people in the face and tell them to f--- themselves.”
As for Peavy, he did not return messages Monday.
Guillen, however, didn’t understand why Peavy thought he didn’t like him in his final days.
“Jake Peavy is a professional,” Guillen said. “I know this, he felt bad that he was injured and couldn’t pitch for me as much as he hoped. I have no bad feelings for this kid. Every time he was on the mound, he was giving 100 percent effort for me. That’s huge.”
So is it finally over?
Well, not all fences can be mended.
Guillen was asked if he would talk to Reinsdorf any time soon, and he couldn’t give a clear answer.
“Jerry made it easier for me to walk in Chicago now,” Guillen said. “He’s still my friend. But I need to let it go for a little bit, maybe. I don’t know how to handle this situation because it wasn’t a pretty one. But he will always be my friend. There are a lot of people I will miss there, not Kenny obviously, but a lot of people.
“In the end, I have the [guts] to blame myself. I always did. You talk about Chicago tough. I am Chicago tough. I f----- up. When you f--- up, take responsibility. Some people there still don’t understand that. They know who they are.
“But I’m done with it.”