Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Updated: May 7, 10:13 AM ET
White Sox deal with fallout from blowup doll prank
CHICAGO -- Coming off an 0-6 road trip when they managed just nine runs, the Chicago White Sox returned home Tuesday and were confronted with more questions about two female blowup dolls than they were about their shaky offense.
Before Sunday's game in Toronto, an unnamed player positioned two nude blowup dolls in the clubhouse with bats of the players fanning out around them -- a ritual of sorts to try and get the team out of its slump.
Some found the shrine more tasteless than amusing. Manager Ozzie Guillen said it was a joke that has been blown out of proportion after it got play in the press. General manager Ken Williams, who had lunch Tuesday with Guillen, said he was disappointed by the display and was assured it wouldn't happen again.
"We have proactively tried to and just did so this spring training, organizationally, we brought in some people to discuss a better work environment whether it's gender issues or racial issues," Williams said.
"And we had some very healthy discussions, so from that respect it is very disappointing. And I don't view this as a boys-being-boys type issue. This is, you know, boys being a little bit careless, a little bit irresponsible on this front."
Guillen, who went on a profanity-filled rant Sunday that also drew headlines around the country, said Tuesday he wouldn't apologize for the presence of the dolls because he didn't think his team did anything wrong inside its own clubhouse.
"I don't think we tried to disrespect or hurt anybody's feelings. We just tried to have fun and to keep things loose. Obviously a lot of people took it the wrong way," Guillen said, adding he did not buy the dolls.
Guillen has a reputation for saying what he feels on a variety of topics and often getting in trouble for doing so. He was ordered to undergo sensitivity training in 2006 for a calling a Chicago sports columnist a deragatory name.
This time, he said no one did anything to merit an apology.
Hold the salt?
In the wake of Ozzie Guillen's latest rant, White Sox GM Ken Williams says he has no problem with what his manager has to say. But he's concerned that Guillen's mode of delivery -- in pirate-friendly prose, generously seasoned with salt -- obscures what he has to say.
"I've never tried to censor Ozzie in terms of anything other than making sure that whatever the message he wants to put out there [that] people are going to be able to hear," Williams said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "And not have to be turned off because of the way he delivers it.
"He has a great opportunity to have a voice, not just in baseball but in sports. And I worry sometimes the language he chooses to use sometimes misses the mark on the intent of the message."
"I'm not going to say I'm sorry. I don't know what to say. I can't come up with the words, because as soon as I say that, that means I'm guilty of something. I'm not. I'm not guilty. ... We just had a plastic thing sitting on a table and, wow, we're bad people," he said.
"No one meant any harm by it. It was just kind of one of those things that just kind of happened. It wasn't meant to offend anybody," White Sox center fielder Nick Swisher said. "If anybody was offended by it, then I sincerely apologize."
Media access in baseball is the most liberal among the major sports.
"You kind of hear the old saying, 'Whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.' Nowadays, with everything so accessible, I guess there is a place where we do have to understand that there is some things that may offend some people," Swisher said. "It is our home away from home. But we do have to understand some things cross the line."
Guillen's tirade -- in which he railed against the White Sox's lack of respect even though they just won a World Series three years ago -- was just part of the trying road trip to Minnesota and Toronto for a team that played well during the first month before faltering badly.
Now he was dealing with another off-field issue Tuesday and he seemed to be tiring of it. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Major League Baseball was looking into the doll incident.
"It's something I know it's part of my gig, I know it's part of my job to deal with all of this stuff, but I don't think it's worth it," Guillen said. "It's not. It's crazy."
And I don't view this as a boys-being-boys type issue. This is, you know, boys being a little bit careless, a little bit irresponsible on this front.
--Chicago GM Ken Williams