Friday, Jan. 21, 2011
By Brett Ballantini
In direct contrast to the stormy 2010 season that both men now admittedly regret, Fridays State of the Sox session from Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Ken Williams could be described as nothing short of a lovefest.
The frank and honest session opened to a rousing ovation, after Williams announced that just minutes earlier he had told Guillen that the club was picking up the managers option for 2012, keeping the White Soxs third-winningest manager (career record: 600-535) in town for at least two more years.
Hopefully I manage here for the rest of my career, Guillen said, recounting that when he called his wife, Ibis, with the news, she started crying. Its what Ive always wanted.
Williams, after cracking a joke about whether Ibis was crying tears of joy or sadness, tossed out a tantalizing bon mot.
Providing we can get back to basics and focus, Williams said, I hope to extend Ozzie for the rest of his and my career.
After the seminar, Williams expounded on Guillens future in Chicago.
We have to sit down and we all have to talk about it, he said. What wed like to ultimately do is make sure were all on the same page, traveling down the same course and some of the other, peripheral things are no longer factors. Ive got confidence in every one of these coaches, but this was the first order of business. Now we have to take care of the next set of business winning.
Williams insisted that while he feels his tombstone will read, just one more move to make, and that his roster is never set, for the time being hes content with the 2011 White Sox.
I kind of like where we are, he said. I don't want to subtract from the team. Any deal will have to come from our depth in the minors.
The closest the seminar came to teeth-grinding came after a fan asked about the Twins, specifically the cowering the White Sox do at the hands of Minnesota. As Williams bit his tongue the triumphs of the Twins are more vexing than any to him Guillen responded with characteristic frankness.
While sympathetic to the fan, he said the Jim Thome game-winning home run off Matt Thornton and the Sunday, fall-from-ahead, getaway loss to end that first series after the All-Star break were the two toughest losses of the season, Guillen said his job was harder, because he had to fly to Kansas City after that game with his team.
The plane was silent, Guillen said, noting that the postgame celebration from Minnesota really irritated him and stuck with him all season long. Those two games crushed the ballclub.
As the session wore on, the rapport between Guillen and Williams got more and more relaxed as well. Near its end, Guillen recounted one of his two crazy moves in 2010, and Williams interrupted you made more than two crazy moves.
Other highlights from the State of the Sox seminar:
Jarred by the sight of a half-empty room, someone in the crowd said that it was because fans instead chose to attend Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko autograph sessions. Guillen: I dont blame them."When the first fan question involved the White Sox offense and involved calling ex-White Sox player Nick Swisher a tool, Guillen leaned over to get explanation of the term from Williams, then broke into a smile.Both men stood steadfastly behind mercurial outfielder Carlos Quentin. Guillen repeated his comments to Spanish media on Thursday, that Quentin is the key to the White Sox. Williams called Quentin a Sportscenter guy, explaining that he didnt want to trade Quentin and then have to be haunted by nightly highlights of him playing well for another team.Guillen offered a bizarre explanation of why hes always changing his cell phone number, to which Williams retorted, Como se dice too much information? Soon thereafter, the GM led a rousing serenade of Happy Birthday in honor of Guillens 47th birthday, celebrated on Thursday.Guillen on shortstop Alexei Ramirezs slow starts: When youre from Cuba, 60 degrees is like negative-2. The jefe added that he felt Ramirez was the best shortstop in the American League, and that Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham will be the best double-play combination in baseball.Andruw Jones was on Williams radar, but the team (finally) ran out of money.Williams was excited to recount a mammoth home run hit in Atlanta by Adam Dunn, but Guillen earned some laughs by telling his boss, I dont care how far he hits oneI want Dunn to hit 50 short homers. Also from Ozzie: One thing people overlook about Dunn is he hits to the opposite field hes going to be fun to watch."When a fan started a question with Manny Ramirez, Williams immediately blurted, sorry! to great laughter and applause. Fan: apology accepted.Before giving him a chance to answer a question about the 2011 AL Central competition, Williams put the hammer down: Dont say anything that could go national.Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.