Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blow up about the blow ups

I know I am a day or two late on this, but I have the day off, and dammit, I want to write about baseball.

The Chicago White Sox, much like everyone else in the AL Central, aren't very good. Specifically, they can't hit, and so the logical way to deal with this problem was to bring a couple of blow up dolls into the clubhouse in a Major League movie-esque way of ridding the team of the bad voodoo spells plaguing the South Siders.

My question is a question I'm sure that a great many individuals have and that is how does Ozzie Guillen still have a job after this?

The man has shown over the years he is ignorant with the slurs and rants he liberally throws around, and this blow up doll incident shouldn't shock too many that it occurred on his watch. He could apologize and this would be brushed under the rug as "Ozzie doing his thing," but he has instead decided to be combative as usual:

"I'm not going to say I'm sorry. I don't know what to say. I can't come up with the words, because as soon as I say that, that means I'm guilty of something. I'm not. I'm not guilty. ... We just had a plastic thing sitting on a table and, wow, we're bad people."

The situation has been described by those defending it as "boys being boys" and "it's in the locker room." Even my beloved morning radio show applauded Ozzie for giving the finger to the politically correct and overly sensitive.

What era are these people living in?

How is it that a couple blow up dolls represent the best manner in which to express anything? This is an incident just months after Isiah Thomas, the New York Knicks, and Madison Square Garden were found liable for creating a sexually charged sporting situation. While this Chicago incident didn't involve a specific individual against whom the wrong was done, the legal term is "hostile work environment" by which the employer can be held responsible for negligence in matters just such as these. Encouraging, permitting or even turning a blind eye to this type of behavior puts the entire organization at risk for legal liability. This is to say nothing of the stupid moral behavior this exhibits, though, I understand that's a subjective argument that is difficult to argue or defend.

I know that winning the 2005 World Series and ending centuries of Chicago suffering create a safety net for job security. Since then, however, the White Sox haven't exactly torn it up. 3rd place in 2006, 4th place in 2007, and 2 games under .500 here in 2008. All the while, Guillen throws his weekly temper tantrum, good taste be damned. Even his boss, General Manager Ken Williams knows he's a moron:

"He has a great opportunity to have a voice, not just in baseball but in sports. And I worry sometimes the language he chooses to use sometimes misses the mark on the intent of the message."

But what does it take to fire a man who "misses the mark" so very frequently while continually drawing negative attention to the White Sox team and putting the entire organization in legal jeopardy with the situation screaming "hostile work environment?" The club's performance is deteriorating in such a way since that high in 2005 that Guillen can't rely on that World Series win to save his position. If I were Ken Williams, I'd have taken this most recent blow up doll incident and taken all three of them out to the dumpster.

Photo from the Daily Illini Blog

1 comment:

JR said...

Having been fortunate enough to see the inside of clubhouses on several occasions, I feel I have a unique perspective.

I think this whole thing is overblown, and only noteworthy because Ozzie is at the reins. For the most part, the players are very respectful in the clubhouse, and I am going to gather that the only people offended by this are people who were not actually IN the clbuhouse. To that end, I think the onus was on the reporters to just let it go by.

After all, players say lots of things in the clubhouse that are not worth reporting. Is it disrespectful that they were laughing hysterically at off-color episodes of The Chappelle Show or Jackass? Because that definitely happens. Is it disrespectful that they were using off-color language? Because that happens as well. There seems to be a thin wall between business and pleasure -- as journalists, you keep your job focused on the former.

It's because of that balance that the clubhouse is one of the most unique environments around. In a way, it's the player's office, where he deals with the media, analyzes data, talks to his boss, etc. It's also a player's safe haven when they're on the road and an area where they can gather and fraternize. Because of that duality, it's important to recognize the difference between which is which.

I'm not saying this was a brilliant choice. I think it's up to the veteran players (remember, most of these guys are essentially living their college and post-college years) to self-police the situation. If Bobby Cox were the manager and these circumstances came about, there's no way anyone would even talk about it. But Ozzie had just come off a fuck-laced tirade, and this played into that storyline somewhat.

Is it kind of icky? You betcha, and as a reporter, it might even make me a little uncomfortable. But so does the extensive farting and burping performed by future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. And neither one is going to make it into my game story.