What a Weird Thing to Have Happen

Lost somewhere in the shuffle of epic shutout rates and mammoth failure on multiple fronts was this gem from today’s Sun-Times:

What exactly got him tossed as he shouted from the dugout?

”I was protecting Peralta,” Guillen said. ”I asked Peralta if that pitch was low and in, and he said, ‘Yes.’ They thought I was crazy because I wasn’t protecting J.D., I was protecting the opposition. I was here to protect baseball. Really crazy-type argument when the manager argues for someone else. Like I say, [DiMuro] was really inconsistent behind the plate.”

Now, far be it from me to advocate leaving Cleveland for dead, but the Ozmeister presents an interesting dilemma here.

It’s generally understood that in baseball – or any organized sport, for that matter – you don’t fight calls going your way. The Los Angeles Lakers profited quite highly from this philosophy in 2002; ditto the Florida Marlins in 1997 and, debatably, this year’s Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers.

Yet when we see even a known hothead like Guillen holding umpires accountable for wrongs brought not just against mere teams but an entire sport, it forces you to take a step back and assess the whole idea of capitalizing on bad calls. Maybe endorsing a lame Jhonny Pieralta strikeout is not in the true spirit of competition. Maybe letting bad foul calls go betrays the whole point of having rules about personal fouls in the first place.

Maybe Ozzie is on to something here. . . except, you know, he’s not. Consider Jermaine Dye’s bat getting hit by a pitch in game two, a point even Dye himself later conceded; consider the Tampa Bay Rays called for interference when A.J. Pierzynski threw his arm up heading back to second; consider. . . well, you get the idea. No arguments, no ejections in the name of a disgraced Phil Garner, just a shrug and a look the other way. Take your base. Win your game. Let the man in blue do his job, man, because when the Sox hit bottom, baseball is a valuable thing, something to be honored and revered, an institution worthy of protection even at the cost of the self; when the Good Guys have a chance, to hell with everyone else.

This, friends, is why we need this man around forever. Farmer and Hawkeroo can scream all they want about bad umpiring and insist on the continued anti-Sox conspiracy, but in Guillen we see something better. Not exactly baseball the way it needs to exist, but baseball the way we need it to exist. It’s a wonderful thing.

Now if only they could just start winning. . .