Ozzie by Slezak

Asked last year if she was offended by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s cuss words, Sun-Times columnist Carol Slezak said no.  Nor had she ever seen him acting badly toward women writers, she said on another occasion, again in response to a male writer’s question.

I could have added that Guillen is one of the most entertaining personalities I've ever covered [she wrote]. I could have said he is smart and honest and frequently offers insightful comments about both his team and the sport. I could have said he is the best thing to happen to the White Sox and major-league baseball in a long time.

That, with Mike Ditka’s endorsement of Ozzie as “real people,” also in today’s Sun-Times, goes a long way toward rebutting some of the foolishness being expressed — as by the Pittsburgh writer in same paper saying it’s not political correctness but business acumen that dictates a throttling of Ozzie, as if the first isn’t informing the second. 

How is it bad for business?  Have fans stopped coming?  Have players stopped playing and winning?  Foolish, foolish man.  On the contrary, “I am unaware of any anti-Sox or anti-baseball backlash as a result of his remark,” says Slezak.

GM Kenny Williams is worried, however, and speaks of imperilled “longevity” as manager of his team for him who offends.  He relishes Ozzie’s “color” and “flavor” but seems unwilling to let it go.  Same for

the rest of us, particularly many of us in the media, [who] are prone to getting carried away. . . .   [S]ome . . . have tried to link Guillen's handling of the team's recent beanball wars -- neither of which was started by the Sox -- to his gay slur. There is no connection, but that hasn't stopped us from piling on. We're good at that.

If Ozzie has to watch what he says, on the other hand, who decides? 

I vote for including the c-word, as in chick. I don't recall having heard Guillen use it, but plenty of others seem to think it's an acceptable term. (And I suppose it is, to barnyard fowl.)

Who’s to be protected?  Some are shoo-ins, as “gays and racial minorities.”  Caucasians?  Chubby guys like Bobby Jenks? 

Finally, I wonder if the context of the offending word or phrase will be taken into account. Because Guillen can be pretty funny. His pregame Q&A sessions with reporters can resemble a comedy routine, and comedians get away with insulting all kinds of people. I wonder if Guillen will be afforded that luxury now. (Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg recently ran a week's worth of blond jokes in his column. If Guillen were to tell a blond joke, would he lose his job?)

Ozzie’s under a microscope nonetheless, and “will face even more intense scrutiny, and I'm not confident he can escape unscathed. I'm not sure any of us could.”

End of column, here excerpted at length and I hope capturing its logic, clarity, and expertise.  Who says girls can’t be sports writers?

As for the GM, Williams, he’s immensely successful and highly regarded but has his own demons to beware.  Just consider how he talks as quoted by Slezak and behold a man running scared for his own job and in fear of what others think:

"What I get concerned with more than anything is that my friend, my brother, is going down a road that does not necessarily lend itself to longevity,'' Williams said. "We've all seen how the movie ends when things are flamed to the degree they are beginning to flame [to] when he says things that are controversial.''

. . . .

"We are trying to get him to understand that if he puts himself in that position, it will be, to me, one of the most unfortunate sports happenings in a long time,'' Williams said. "We need people like Ozzie Guillen out there to give a little bit of color and a little bit of flavor to the game.''

Unless too many object.  Then we don’t need them at all.

No comments: