By David Horne, Sports by the Numbers co-author
Just for the record, Ozzie Guillen was a fine major league shortstop. He won the 1985 A.L. Rookie of the Year award, was a three-time All-Star, and somehow stole a Gold Glove from Cal Ripken in 1990.
Ripken, in case you are wondering, made only three errors in 161 games, and played 95 consecutive games that season without making an error - Guillen made 17 errors in 159 games, go figure.
I saw both Ripken and Guillen play in person, and while they were completely different kinds of shortstops, they were both great in their own way.
I say that in order to make this point - I'm not writing about Ozzie Guillen the player. He played hard, he played to win, and though he lost his only shot at a World Series title as a player, he did get a ring as manager of the White Sox in 2005 - and that is the Ozzie Guillen that concerns me.
I want Ken Griffey, Jr. to get a ring.
I think he needs one. I think every great player needs a ring to complete their resume, and yes, I recognize there are some true legends that never got one. I don't mean to diminish their accomplishments, but if they are honest, I have to believe they felt something was missing when they hung up their spikes.
I remember pulling for Junior back when he was The Kid, and I'm glad I saw him play in his prime. I'm also glad the Reds gave him a shot at a pennant race by trading him to the White Sox - but that also leads to this problem I'm having.
Ozzie Guillen the manager annoys me.
I am a baseball fan, though, and as a rule I never pull against teams, players, or managers. If my team is in the pennant race, then sure, I want them to win and gain ground on the teams closest to them - but I don't want to back into a title, I want to go out and win more games than anyone else.
So I don't pull for teams to lose - all teams lose on their own, and lose a lot. The best teams in baseball will lose 60-70 games a year. I want my team to make the playoffs because they won the most games, not because the competition acted like the 2007 version of the Mets.
I have to admit though, I'm having a hard time not pulling against the White Sox - and I'm honest enough to say Ozzie is the reason.
Now, however, Junior is there - and this is tricky.
Junior needs a ring. He deserves a shot at a ring. He needs post-season glory like Reggie Jackson, Kirk Gibson, or Joe Carter.
Guillen got one ring as a manager already, so it is hard to criticize him when there are a lot of managers out there who certainly command more respect and admiration from the fans, media, and players, and yet have never won a title.
He deserves props for that - but again, being honest, I have maintained for nearly three years now that the 2005 White Sox won despite Guillen, not because of him.
I know we call these guys managers - not leaders - but it seems to me there is something to be said for the leadership aspect of the role. I can appreciate Guillen standing up and fighting for his players, and truthfully, hey if he said throw at a guy to protect a teammate, give him props for that, too - but this guy is strictly a manager, and not a leader.
Tommy Lasorda, Sparky Anderson, Joe Torre - managers, yes, but also leaders.
I'm going to be pulling for Junior, and to be honest, Jim Thome deserves another shot at a ring just as much - but Ozzie, man, not that you care or anything, you're making it hard for those of us who call ourselves true fans of the game.
Visit us at www.sportsbythenumbers.com