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DETROIT -- It’s not exactly Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky matching strategy, but Ozzie Guillen vs. Buck Showalter doesn’t figure to be boring.
Guillen’s White Sox will face an Orioles club this weekend that recently hired Showalter, the former Rangers, Yankees and Diamondbacks manager.
In an epic blowup in 2004 when then-Rangers manager Showalter questioned Guillen’s knowledge of baseball rules (specifically if an extra late-season coach could be on the field coaching first base), Mt. Guillen erupted. It goes down as one of his classic rants of all time.
A sample of Guillen’s offerings that September day:
"I could have made a big deal about it, but I was professional enough because I respect the guy that was coaching first base.... (John) Wetteland did something in the big leagues. [Showalter] never even smelled a jock in the big leagues. He didn't even know how the clubhouse in the big leagues was when he got his first job. ... 'Mr. Baseball' never even got a hit in Triple-A. He was a backup catcher or a first baseman all his career. Now all of the sudden he's the best ever in baseball."
Later, Guillen poked fun at Showalter’s attention to detail, presenting a lineup card before a game against the Rangers that not only had the mug shots of each White Sox player, but had their e-mail addresses as well.
Guillen said Thursday that was all the past and has been long forgotten.
“I think what I have to say about it is over with,” Guillen said. “I don’t think it’s anything, I’m not the type of guy to hold anything against anyone. I did what he did and he did what he did. And we respect each other as a manager and a man.”
After the 2004 spat, Guillen said that the reason Showalter has his hand in his back pocket when he walks to the mound is because he doesn’t want to lose the key to baseball. He went from mocking that day to complimentary Thursday.
“You know what, it’s one thing I know for sure, those guys are going to play better for him for some reason,” Guillen said. “Buck is the type of guy who demands players, day in and day out, to play good baseball. He only took that job for a reason. He took that job because he’s a guy who maybe, hopefully, can put those guys back where they want to be.
“I don’t know him very well but when I see him with organizations, he does a tremendous job. Believe me, I think they have good ballplayers if you go player by player. Maybe their pitching staff is going to be better.
“I don’t have anything against Baltimore managers in the past, but he’s the right guy to make them play the way those guys should be playing.”