Ozzie Guillén talks too much?
In other news, the earth is round.
The former Chicago White Sox player and manager — and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst — once again has been accused of excessive verbiage, this time by Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
After Guillén casually mentioned Tuesday night that Anderson should’ve played in the second game of a doubleheader the Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals, Anderson shot back with: “Ozzie need(s) to stfu sometimes … talk too much!”
The tweet was later deleted but too late to avoid a Twitter hubbub.
Guillén’s son Ozzie Jr. posted a “special edition” of “Guillén’s World” on the family’s YouTube channel to discuss the beef. Ozzie Jr. said there were “no hard feelings” with Anderson and said his dad needed to “be a big boy” about the reaction.
“He comes from a different time,” Ozzie Jr. said of his father’s outspokenness, while adding he would pray for Anderson and his family.
Ozzie Sr. praised Anderson during a Wednesday appearance on WSCR-AM’s “Mully and Haugh Show,” maintaining he only was doing his job.
“If you don’t like what I say, I’m sorry,” he said. “But I’m not going to change my thoughts.”
Anderson did not speak with the media before Wednesday’s game in Kansas City. Manager Tony La Russa told reporters it was his decision to rest Anderson’s legs, pointing to the long season.
“He’s got a champion’s mentality and toughness and courage,” La Russa said. “And he’s got the skills to go with it. There’s no way he ever dodges a challenge, and the days he doesn’t play it’s because I end up doing the lineup.
“But I do trust the trainers and the coaches’ opinions too. He’s very special. He doesn’t ask for rest. You’ve just got to watch him close.”
Anderson assuredly was not the first person to tell Guillén to be quiet. I’m pretty sure I heard Frank Thomas, Guillén’s TV partner, say it a time or two when they were teammates in the 1990s. Then they both would laugh. It was indeed a different time.
Well before he dreamed of being a manager or TV analyst, Guillén said what he wanted to say and didn’t care if the recipient of his barbs didn’t like it. He once told me I should go work for the New York Post. I took it as a compliment, but he actually was criticizing my writing skills. And again, we both laughed.
The only difference between Classic Ozzie and TV Ozzie is he now is being paid for saying whatever he wants. In fact, his bluntness was a reason for his hiring.
Anderson was the first Sox player to publicly respond to criticism by the team-approved TV analyst, bringing back memories of Steve Stone’s battles with Cubs players in 2004.
That one didn’t end too well.
Now it will be up to executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn to ensure this beef doesn’t escalate and become a distraction as the Sox try to overcome their early-season malaise.
NBC Sports Chicago hired Guillén with the blessing of Williams and Hahn, both of whom he feuded with when he was Sox manager before his stormy exit in 2011. Eventually Guillén buried the hatchet.
He was put on TV to provide entertainment value and credibility for the station, which the Sox partially own. Guillén has succeeded, making the postgame show a must-watch for Sox fans.
As recently as the Cubs-Sox series earlier this month at Wrigley Field, Guillén told me he would quit his job if the station tried to censor him. I don’t see that happening. NBC Sports Chicago can’t hire someone like Guillén and tell him to be less opinionated.
And as criticism goes, telling a player he’s too strong and young to be taking games off in May is rather mild. Guillén was only saying the Sox needed Anderson in the lineup, which has been struggling.
La Russa said after Tuesday’s game that Anderson was ready to pinch-run in the ninth if needed.
Is there more to Anderson’s pique?
On Monday night’s telecast, during an in-game toss to the studio, Guillén briefly criticized Anderson for making a throw on a grounder in the hole by the speedy Michael Taylor. Anderson’s throw had no chance, and Guillén, a great defensive shortstop, correctly suggested Anderson should’ve just eaten the ball.
The station quickly threw it back to broadcasters Jason Benetti and Gordon Beckham, who didn’t mention Guillén’s comment. Perhaps Anderson heard about Guillén’s remark and didn’t appreciate being told how to play his position? We can only speculate.
Either way, Guillén has heaped plenty of praise on Anderson during his career, so telling the TV analyst to “shut up” after some mild criticism is overly sensitive. If it was Dallas Keuchel ripping on Guillén, no one would care.
But Anderson is the face of the franchise, the team’s best and most underpaid player. When he talks, Sox fans listen.
La Russa, who knows a thing or two about media criticism, should talk with Anderson about how to ignore it. He also was Guillén’s manager in May 1986 when Guillén blew a potential big inning in an eventual loss by trying to score on a ball that rolled a few feet from the catcher.
“Ozzie’s aggressiveness is a big plus,” La Russa said at the time after meeting with his shortstop. “We talked about maintaining that aggressiveness with common sense.”
Common sense should prevail again.
The Sox need Anderson focusing on his game, not the team’s studio analyst.
And Ozzie needs to be Ozzie. If Sox players don’t want to hear it, hit the mute button.