Last week, I wrote that Robin Ventura had become old news, which pushed Ozzie Guillen further out of perspective.
Now I wonder if he's too far out of the picture. The White Sox own a share of first place with eight games to go, and it's hard for me to understand why a noticeable section of the fan base still sounds so sullen about it.
Sure, the Sox may not win the Central, but ... they very well could. In fact, it's a 50 percent chance. That alone makes this season a thousand times more enjoyable than last year, when a cold war and pissing contest prevented the best possible product from taking the field. It may turn out that the best possible product might not be good enough to hold off the Tigers, but it's not for a lack of action or thought.
If in case you needed a refresher for what last season was like, you're in luck -- infighting has followed Guillen to South Florida, and it's an even bigger clusterhump than last season. The Miami Marlins are a smoldering wreck at 66-88, and Guillen may not make it out of the first year of his four-year deal.
If you haven't been following, here's what you missed over the last several days.
On Friday: Guillen made an off-hand comment about Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria that was either flippant or shrewd:
"If Jeffrey doesn’t think I’m doing the job I should do … it’s not the first time he’s fired a manager," Guillen said. "Look yourself in the mirror and ask why so many (bleeping) managers come through here."
It's never good to spell out your boss' faults through the media, but he's also framing the narrative in a fascinating way. Basically, if Loria fires Guillen, then maybe it's because he's created an environment that can't sustain leadership.
That's not going to matter so much with Loria, who doesn't care if he's despised. But maybe it helps Guillen's positioning if he gets the ax. He can say he's another Joe Girardi, who is faring well enough in his own hostile environment after Loria booted him.
On Monday: Miami closer Heath Bell, whose tense meeting with Guillen in the manager's office on The Franchise might be the signature moment of the Marlins' season, ripped his skipper on a radio show:
"It’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face. [...]
"We need a guy that leads us that everybody respects and looks up to," Bell said. "That’s what we need."
On Tuesday: Guillen responded to Bell's comments on his weekly radio show. Bell got to hear that Guillen doesn't respect him as a man, and in a fairly public fashion because his teammates cranked it up in the clubhouse. Apparently Bell has lost respect of the players, too. Mark Buehrle certainly didn't side with him:
"He got himself in trouble," starting pitcher Mark Buehrle said of Bell. "He put himself in this mess. I’ve never looked at Ozzie the way he’s saying." [...]
"I can’t answer for anybody else, but I feel if I’d wanted to talk to him [to air out differences], I’d go to him and not through you guys [reporters]," Buehrle said.
Bell has tried to backtrack on his statements and blame it on the media, but Guillen never heard his apology. He deleted the voicemail because he didn't recognize the number.
Bell's criticism might have been an inadvertent boost to Guillen's case, because Bell has performed worse than Guillen with a larger financial commitment. Either way, this is merely a more severe case of what happened in 2011, a season in which Pyrrhic victories were the official win of the White Sox. Apparently, collateral damage is his trademark, and he doesn't need Kenny Williams or Don Cooper to pull it off.
If nothing else, it proves that kind of gravitational force that Jerry Reinsdorf possesses. Imagine how bad the last couple of years would have been if Guillen didn't respect the Chairman. Then again, maybe Guillen wouldn't have been around to see them.