Kenny Williams vs. Ozzie Guillen is apparently water under the bridge.
The executive vice president and former manager had an infamous falling out that led to the end of Guillen's tenure as White Sox manager.
But after being spotted chatting ahead of Friday's home opener on the South Side, Williams was asked about the status of his relationship with Guillen. And Williams said any disharmony is a thing of the past.
"We were 18 years old, so 18, it’s a 30-year friendship and a lot of laughs and a lot of good times. We suffered through some bad times together and still managed to have some laughs along the way. We both got together and decided, listen, whatever transpired over the last couple of years really had less to do with he and I and more to do with some things on the peripheral that some were just, created I won’t say falsely, but certainly created with ill intentions," Williams said ahead of Saturday's game against the Twins. "We’ve chosen to focus on all the years we had a great positive relationship and accomplished something very special than some of the other things."
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Williams and Guillen teamed to help guide the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005, Guillen's second season as manager. But after that, the famously opinionated Guillen led the South Siders to just one postseason appearance over the next six years.
Guillen's departure from the franchise was tied to discord between he and Williams' front office. And Guillen had little luck in his lone season managing the Miami Marlins in 2012, infamously complimenting Fidel Castro in the Marlins' new ballpark in the heart of Little Havana.
Though Guillen's personality hasn't always had beneficial results, Williams said that type of personality is what's missing from baseball today.
"I feel like baseball is missing something. I think misses personality and characters," Williams said, "and a guy who has had as much success as he has and has much baseball knowledge as he has and has a desire to be in uniform should be in uniform somewhere. Hopefully he gets another chance to show it.
"As we talked about yesterday, he says, ‘Kenny, I was in my late 30s when all this started. I’m 51 years old now, and I have mellowed.’ I looked at him and said, ‘You’ve what?’ I’m not completely buying it, but I know what you are talking about. I hope he can get in position again to get another opportunity, and there’s no doubt that if he does, he’ll be successful and a little more mellow."
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So Williams thinks that Guillen deserves to be managing somewhere. But that doesn't mean he's surprised Guillen hasn't gotten another gig since he left Miami.
"I’m not," Williams said. "One thing that he has, I think, grown to appreciate — and he’s said it directly multiple times is — he appreciates my honesty and continued honesty, because he hadn’t always gotten that elsewhere. That’s nice on my part to hear. And I’m not going to change, so I told him, I said. ‘Listen, a lot of what you’re going through now was self-created. And in order to have that turned around, you’re going to have to show people that there is that more mature, 51-year old man who’s ready to employ a different strategy.’”
When it comes to that strategy, Williams pointed it out as one of Guillen's better attributes.
With all the focus on analytics in the game these days, the hot managerial hires are the ones who utilize the data to their advantage. Look at Joe Maddon and the buzz he's created on the North Side of town. Williams said Saturday that Guillen, for all his comments over the years and his status as a former player, is far more in tune with the new style of the game than many think.
“He sees positioning, he sees first step quickness, he sees swings and one of the things I don’t think he gets credit for ... we as a whole were always perceived as a scouting and just old-school baseball organization, but he does factor in all of the new-fangled stuff that people talk about, with the sabermetrics and all that," Williams said. "He puts it to good use as well, so hopefully he’s not just considered by the old-guard general managers for another opportunity, but from some of the young guys who employ a different set of strategies.”
It's been 10 years since Guillen and Williams both lifted the World Series trophy. It's been three and a half since Guillen managed his last game for the White Sox.
But anything that happened between the two has apparently been put to rest. These longtime friends — before they were building and managing rosters, they were White Sox teammates in the 1980s — have, according to Williams, put bad times in the past and are focusing on the good.