If Illini and Illiniwek are out for U. of Ill. teams, per NCAA correctors, so is Illinois out for the whole damn state, says Bill McClellan in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who suggests “Fighting Jews” for the team name, arguing that “Jews are not known for being drunken brawlers,” like the Irish, and won’t be offended. He has other ideas but concludes with “Fighting Corrupt Pols,” with a nod to past secretaries of state Paul Powell and George Ryan. May I humbly add that Powell and Ryan mascots would not be out of order.
Meanwhile, local talent will out, as in Rick Morrissey in Chi Trib bringing to bear all the controlled, saddened but not angered, school-marmish prudery he can muster on the irrepressible Ozzie, the winningest manager maybe in all Chicago history. Ozzie greeted a friend vulgarly, effusively, insultingly as “a homosexual . . . a child molester,” IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY — Morrissey, that is, and other writers.
No, no, no! said Morrissey. You can’t say that! It’s not true! Homosexuals are not child molesters! Stop, stop! But Newsday beat him to it, without giving Ozzie a chance to defend himself! So Morrissey, patient, longsuffering, a born teacher (yes!), reads a version of the riot act to our Winningest Manager:
In a vacuum, the insinuation in his words is that being gay is bad and, worse, that it logically follows that homosexuals are child molesters. I know people who are gay and I can't imagine their seeing anything playful in that. But Guillen says he meant nothing hateful by what he said and that was my immediate impression. But I did roll my eyes. What if someone in the group were gay?
Morrissey knows people who are gay? Egad, where did he meet them? Hey, patient schoolmarms spell things out. You readers be patient too. It’s a Tribune writer working his way through something. It’s worth it. He elicits THE APOLOGY:
"I have no problem with [homosexuals]," Guillen said Wednesday. "I don't deal with that. To me, everybody's the same. We're human beings created by God. Everybody has their own opinion and their own right to do what they want to do. You have the right to feel the way you want to feel. Nobody can take that away from you."
There. Morrissey feels better already. He still has to work things through, however, slogging his conscientious way:
If an Italian came to this country and used ugly words about blacks, would it be explained away so easily? But Guillen says he comes at it from a Venezuelan perspective.
A little cultural awareness, ok? There's more, but Morrissey finally lets the whole thing go with a peroration:
Guillen acknowledged he "said the wrong thing at the wrong time," but it's more than that. There's no right time for what he said. The clubhouse and the locker room might be the last place where men can be men, but Guillen has to live in the bigger world. He's the manager. He's not Don Rickles.
"I don't worry about losing my job," he said. "I just worry about respecting people. I worry about respecting the integrity of people. I represent a city and a team. I have to be careful what I say and when I say it. But I don't say anything to offend anybody."
Did ever Father Morrissey impose such a penance? Finally, he takes a crack at being Aesop but taking three times the space:
In Ozzie's world, life is to be lived fully, people are to be embraced and jokes are to be made. Problem is, not everyone gets them.