Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Stock Exchange written for

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The Stock Exchange

By Jon Williams, Pinch-Hitting For Christopher Meyer


Words and Actions

In baseball, his words are considered worse than others' actions...

Ozzie Guillen has a big mouth.

It takes very little prodding to get him to rant about whatever it is that might be on his mind. Obviously this week it was his hatred – I don’t think you can call it anything else – for Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti. You only have to read Mariotti’s latest column to discover the genesis of this feud. Mariotti considers it his responsibility to publicly call Guillen on his every indiscretion. Guillen will tell you and anyone else who cares to listen that he does not actually have a problem with this. The problem in Guillen’s mind is that Mariotti refuses to come to the ballpark and face him as all the beat writers do.

Guillen might have a point if Mariotti was a beat writer, but he is not. Mariotti is a columnist that has the job we all wish we did. He goes to the NBA finals and flies from there to the next big event and from there to the next. Mariotti, in a rather wussy fashion, claims that the Chicago White Sox clubhouse is too dangerous a place for him to risk showing up. Of course, I am sure if reporters were being beat up after games we would have heard about it by now.

Many people will tell you that his feud with Mariotti is not the story. Instead they point to Ozzie Guillen’s use of the word “fag” in his tirade against Mariotti as the more serious problem. Read just about any article about Guillen from last week and you’ll see it suggested that Guillen be suspended for various lengths of time – Mariotti thinks two weeks – lose his job, be fined significantly, and on and on. Why? Because Guillen used what is considered a homophobic slur.

The problem with such thinking is that Guillen was not trying to call Jay Mariotti gay or imply that anything is wrong with being gay. It’s a stupid thing to say but it doesn’t make him a homophobe.

Bud Selig gave Guillen a stern talking to and has ordered him into sensitivity training. It can’t hurt, but I do not think sensitivity training is going to get at Guillen’s real problem. Guillen has a couple of problems I see as far more serious. First, his aggressive attitude that considers beaning players during a game the right thing to do and can get you thrown off the team if you don’t share it is a major one. And, secondly, his obvious inability to think before saying something stupid or to simply shut up when he does not have anything good to say is a problem. I won’t hold my breath waiting for baseball to address these issues.

Guillen’s lack of control is nothing compared to the lack displayed by Phillies starter Brett Myers. The young Philadelphia pitcher allegedly punched his wife in the face on Friday just outside of Fenway Park in front of multiple witnesses. Boston Police responded to a 911 call and found Myers’ wife, Kim Wickman, to have signs of abuse on the left side of her face. Myers was found nearby and was arrested and charged with domestic abuse. Myers was then bailed out by his wife but ordered not to have any contact with her unless at her suggesting. Myers at the time of this writing was still scheduled to make his Saturday start against the Red Sox. If only a man hitting his wife could summon the same media outrage that using bad language does, the world would be a better place.

On the lighter side of this week’s baseball news we were blessed by the return of several players to active duty. The return of Roger Clemens as a starter for the Houston Astros was the biggest story. ESPN was kind enough to broadcast the game so we could all get a glimpse of one of the greatest and most popular pitchers of all time. Clemens was not spectacular in his return but he was solid. His control obviously wasn’t what he would have liked, but he allowed just two runs in five innings and lately the Astros would kill for such quality. They did not have to kill though; they just forked over a prorated $22 million dollars.

We also witnessed the return of Albert Pujols to active duty this. ESPN was nice enough to show us Pujols’ first at-bat, which resulted in a long fly-ball. Joe Morgan accurately pointed out that Pujols’ form did not seem quite right. Pujols seemed to swing with his arms rather than put any torque on his newly recovered oblique muscles. Any doubts raised by his lack of hits on Thursday were erased though by his 4-for-4 performance with a home run on Friday night; so maybe it is only a matter of time before he finds his form again.

As if those were not enough, Thursday also featured the return of A.J. Burnett to active duty. Burnett looked effective and relaxed in his return. Burnett went six innings on just 91 pitches. He allowed just two runs on five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. With time, he should build his endurance back up and be the fine addition the Blue Jays thought they signed in December.

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