Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Twitter causes drama in White Sox camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ozzie Guillen just had to point out what a nice job his hair stylist did and how cool his new shades are.
As news goes, that barely registered.
The Chicago White Sox's manager is simply providing glimpses into his personal life through his Twitter account, and if his boss doesn't like it, well, Guillen's response can easily be summed up in 140 characters or less: Too bad.
He made it clear he's not about to stop posting despite some recent controversy over comments online. And one more thing: "I think the people from Twitter owe me money, I make them so famous."
For those who haven't been following, Guillen decided to start tweeting this spring and general manager Ken Williams didn't like it, the latest drama in the never-dull world of the White Sox.
Countless sports personalities and teams use sites such as Twitter and Facebook in an effort to connect with fans and, more and more frequently, break news without media interference.
The White Sox, in fact, have a Facebook page and three official Twitter accounts -- one for releasing news and notes, a Spanish version and one offering their mascot's perspective.
Yet it was Guillen's decision to establish a Twitter account that sparked controversy, even though he insisted he wasn't about to offer any inside information about the team. Williams made it clear at the time he wasn't thrilled with the idea of his outspoken manager using another platform, saying, "No comment ... and make sure you write that it is a no comment with a head shake from side to side."
What's transpired since then would be prime material for a reality TV show, which, by the way, the White Sox and MLB Network have in the works. The show, starring Guillen, Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, is expected to run on the network this summer.
The problem involved Guillen's middle son, Oney, a White Sox employee until recently. The front office nixed Guillen's plan to start a Web site that Oney was working on with him in which he would have offered insight on his moves as a manager.
Oney Guillen resigned from his job in the scouting department on March 19 after the organization took exception to some of his tweets, and Ozzie stormed out of the team's training complex without talking to reporters. The elder Guillen also posted in Spanish that the White Sox "touched me where it hurts me the most and I have to be ready for what comes, like I have always done."
The episode fueled speculation that there was mounting tension between Guillen and Williams, who often refer to themselves as brothers and at times fight like they are. But this time, family was involved.
It was Oney who tweeted when he resigned: "Remember this day march 19 2010. Mark my words. I hope the dorks aren't running the organization or else we're [expletive]. 3 geeks who never played baseball a day in there life telling experts what to do."
A day later, Ozzie Guillen said he had told Oney to resign, but the plot took another twist when his son went on the air against his father's wishes and indicated in radio interviews that White Sox management should have told him face to face to stop tweeting.
All this over a few words.
Major League Baseball urges players to treat online posts as interviews, to use good judgment, and can punish them for inappropriate comments, although no one has been punished to date.
"Players are reminded that they are representatives of their employer, that they have an association with the industry and must be mindful of that when communicating, as they would in a print, radio or TV interview," spokesman Pat Courtney wrote in an e-mail.
Each spring, MLB security discusses social media during meetings with each team, and the topic is part of the rookie development agenda. The league prohibits uniformed personnel along with clubhouse and equipment staff from using cell phones or personal devices on the bench or in the field during games and bans their use in the clubhouse within 30 minutes of the first pitch.
Courtney said the league also tracks players' accounts and assists when fake ones pop up.
White Sox infielder Mark Teahen tweets from the perspective of Espy, his female boxer. And in her canine eyes, Joey Porter is a good fit for the Arizona Cardinals and men should not wear tattoos on their lower back.
Any controversial posts?
"I don't even toe the line," Teahen said. "I don't mess around with anything like that, but I think if you have some common sense about what not to write, you should be all right."
For Cubs pitcher Randy Wells, maintaining a Facebook page became such a headache that he's ready to shut his down. He had about 2,000 friends and only knew about 300, he saw pictures on his site wind up on other blogs, and he simply got tired of people asking why he walked Albert Pujols.
"I don't need that," he said. "I know I walked Pujols. I don't need you to tell me."
For Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, all this was a little confusing. Last month, he asked a question that any twentysomething would find amusing: "What is Twitter?"
When told it was a site where users can opine in 140 characters or less, he responded: "Ozzie ... he needs more space than that."
Clubs also have their own rules for employees.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, for example, ban them from dispensing confidential information and from disparaging the organization, other franchises and the league along with any of their players, coaches or officials. Using Diamondbacks or D-backs in a username is forbidden, as is posting logos or photos without consent, and violations could ultimately result in an employee's firing.
"We all know the missteps that athletes have made; it really is something that you need to prepare for," Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten said.
Guillen, meanwhile, has been busily posting about his family, who had dinner with him, who cut his hair, a recent Blackhawks-Coyotes game he attended and whatever random thoughts pop into his head. Nothing about the inner workings of the team, though.
"That's my private life," he said. "As long as I respect this ballclub and respect my team, I respect the organization, I can do what I want."
Guillen said his relationship with his general manager is "fine."
"We've got a job to do," he said. "I think everything else has been blown out of proportion. I think that was something we wish did not happen, but in the meanwhile, me and Kenny have a job."
And he'll keep tweeting in his free time.