Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Just Want People To Know One Thing About Jose Guillen

In the words of Jose Guillen, "I just want people to know one thing about Jose Guillen. All he wants is to play every day and win." In the words of Melanie Greenberg, “Don’t speak about yourself in the third person.” Unless maybe you’re Bo Jackson. Otherwise, it distracts us from the point you’re trying to make.

Jose Guillen did, indeed, have a point. It was that when he loses his cool, as he is known to do, it’s only because he’s passionate. Because he loves the game. Because he just can’t contain his competitive edge. Because he can’t understand anyone else who feels differently. Except for Tuesday night. That night he just got peeved because a fan called him a bad name and insulted his family. But, usually, it’s the other stuff.

Tuesday’s outburst was not the first of Jose’s public displays of what he would probably call team spirit. There was the time, in 2004, when Guillen was playing for the Angels and Mike Scioscia pulled him from a game for a pinch runner. This so angered Jose that he threw both his helmet and his glove inside the dugout. The team responded by suspending Guillen for the remainder of the season, including the postseason, which did not make Jose particularly happy. He let them know. Not surprisingly, the Angels traded Guillen that November. When Scioscia tried to bury the hatchet with Guillen, he responded by calling Scioscia a “piece of garbage.” Yeah, it’s true; trying to bury the hatchet is pretty trashy.

In 2005, when Jose was with the Nationals, he was plunked by Pedro Martinez. Guillen made a big spectacle of berating his own pitcher, Esteban Loaiza, for his failure to retaliate. Deja vu all over again. The exact same thing had happened the previous year with the Angels. Jose was also known to publicly criticize players for the Nationals for not playing through their injuries. True, he didn’t use any names. But it's not like anyone was unaware of who was injured on the Nationals. So, it would sort of be like if I said, “I find it really frustrating when overpaid players on the Yankees who have frosted tips ground into double plays in late season games.”

Fast forward to his time with the Royals. Since joining the team, he has cursed out his teammates and referred to them as a bunch of "babies," cursed out his fan base, saying he could care less what they think of him, and had to be physically restrained from going at it with pitching coach Bob McLure. I assume cursing was involved in that incident as well. And probably no middle finger for comic relief. Then there was Tuesday night, when Guillen was, again, physically restrained in order to prevent him from attacking a fan who was heckling him.

Guillen claims that his outbursts can all be chalked up to an insatiable desire for victory. That so great is his need to win that he becomes frustrated when he sees other people who are not giving it their all. The problem is that sometimes Guillen’s actions are inconsistent with his supposed competitive edge. For example, if Guillen was so in love with winning, wouldn’t he be disciplined enough to have laid off the Fribbles and not shown up to Spring Training, by his own estimate, twenty to thirty pounds overweight? There is nothing wrong with having a little extra junk in your trunk if you are not getting paid $12 million dollars a year to be a professional athlete. But, seriously. Come on. Jose Guillen literally has nothing to do all winter besides drink protein shakes and do pilates. So, if Jose Guillen is going to be the guy who yells at all the other guys for not trying hard enough, not being invested enough, shouldn’t he also be the guy who shows up to Spring Training in peak physical condition?

Then of, course, there is the fact that Guillen famously fails to run out his ground balls. This makes me suspicious of his allegedly competitive nature. Wouldn’t someone with his theoretical yen to win always be running out every ground ball no matter what?

Jose Guillen will be the first to tell you that Jose Guillen is a gamer. Jose Guillen plays through injuries and, consequently, cannot understand the guys who don’t. Jose Guillen claims that it is evidence that they simply are not invested enough. But I would make another argument. You see, Jose Guillen hasn’t had such a great season, which is why fans keep saying things that make him respond so, uh, passionately. And the reason that keeps cropping up for Jose Guillen’s not-so-hot performance is—surprise, surprise—an injury. I wonder if Jose Guillen ever considered the possibility that it actually wasn’t best for his team for him to have suffered through a leg injury for months rather than take the necessary time on the DL to address it. Jeter showed us just earlier this year that sometimes the best thing you can do for an injury is rest it. He showed us right around the same time that A-Rod showed us that sometimes the worst thing you can do it play through it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that there are some guys—guys who fake injuries for seasons and seasons whose names I won’t mention—who don’t need to start playing through the “pain” a little. But Jose falls into another category.

I do not believe his desire to play through his pain is evidence of his need to serve his team. What I do think is that if his team is going to win, he wants his fair share of the credit. That is the reason he got so angry about Scioscia pulling him for a pinch runner. But a manager does not make decisions in order to soothe the overly fragile ego of a temperamental player. A manager makes decisions based on what is best for the team. A player who truly has his team's welfare at heart will respect those decisions.

Finally, it cannot go unsaid that Jose Guillen is reported to have purchased a large supply of performance enhancing drugs last year when he was playing for Oakland. To be shipped directly to the Coliseum. (Good thinking, Jose Guillen.) This shows me that Jose Guillen is not truly a competitor. Real competitors don't cheat. In my humble opinion. Moreover, it shows me that he does not actually respect the sport about which he claims to care so passionately. It makes it hard to take him seriously when he tell us that the root of his problem is that he cares too much.

It seems to me that Jose Guillen only cares about one thing: Jose Guillen. He cares when Jose Guillen gets hit by a pitch. He cares when Jose Guillen gets pulled from games. He cares when Jose Guillen gets insulted by fans. All of this stuff about Jose Guillen being invested in the team, in winning? Honestly? I think Jose Guillen is just a hothead who is looking for a reason to yell.

On another note, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge my hamster Sadie, who passed away yesterday. Sadie was born on July 28, 2006 to Tomi and Wolfgang. She is survived by sister Jolene, brothers Fitzwilliam and Felix, nieces and nephews Cyrus, Augustin, Mackenzie, and Rose of Sharon, and great nieces and nephews Cristóbal, Alonzo, Su Lin and Max. (Do not be alarmed. Not all of these hamster live with me.) Sadie will be remembered for her curiosity, her exceptional interest in people, and her ability to fit a really large number of seeds into her mouth. She was truly an extraordinary hamster. Rest in peace, Sadie.

1 comment:

koala said...

Sadie will be remembered. Even by those who never met her. You know who else should be remembered, even though he's not dead, is the great Dave Henderson, or as A's fans knew him "Hendu." Unlike Jose Guillen, Dave always played with a smile. He clearly loved to play baseball, always hustled, was an integral part of the great Oakland teams of the late 80's, and also had one of the greatest "home run hops" ever.