Excuse me if I drift off occasionally. I [po[a
Sorry. You go away for seven weeks and the first day back is exhausting. Even if the first day back only lasts for about two hours. And I don’t even know if “back” is the right word. But I am going to start writing for ESPNChicago.com, I did venture into the White Sox clubhouse today with an actual working credential and I did experience once again the singular wonder of listening to Sox manager Ozzie Guillen up close and in person.
I never realized how much I missed that.
Dropping into a baseball clubhouse that you haven’t been in all season, not to mention one going through a horrific (can you call it a slump when it has lasted the better part of the last two and a half months?), is not exactly the ideal situation.
I took the safe route and hovered around Jim Thome, who would be courteous to the reporter who just did a scathing expose on him, I’m sure (a scathing expose on Jim Thome amounting to something along the lines of Jim being caught using more than the dentist’s recommended daily amount of fluoride).
It was about that time that Ozzie came by with the newest issue of Sports Illustrated, disgusted at the photo of the miscreant who had to be dragged off the court at the French Open after charging up to Roger Federer in mid-match and trying to put a hat on Federer’s head.
His point was that putting this guy’s picture in a national magazine would only encourage other morons to behave similarly. Sox general manager Kenny Williams suggested it may have been more useful to photograph what went on once the security guards got the guy under the stands.
Guillen explained in a way only he could, that in his country, they’d just pummel the guy in front of the entire stadium: “There, now who else wants to run out here?” he demonstrated with a few extra words thrown in.
I’m so glad Ozzie isn’t one of those men who utters a single curse word and feels compelled to apologize to a woman who has spent her entire career inside men’s lockerrooms. Ozzie lets them fly around women like me, utilized as verbs, adjectives and even the occasional noun, and I view this as the ultimate show of respect. Ozzie being Ozzie.
I had actual work to do and I managed to do it, getting one entire interview completed before running out of battery power for my tape recorder. Lest you misinterpret, this was a good day for me. Throughout my career, I have carved out a well-earned reputation for having just about every mechanical malfunction a print reporter could possibly have, dead batteries being the very least of it.
The humorous part for my colleagues has been that the malfunctions always seemed to occur at the key moments of every press conference and interview. The non-humorous part is that it often elicited from me one of Ozzie’s favorite words within microphone range of pretty much every TV and radio reporter in attendance.
Reporters can be very kind, very sympathetic people in real life. Many of us would surely stop and open a door for someone older than ourselves. We donate money to charity. We tear up at sad movies. But if one of us trips and falls on the way into a clubhouse on deadline, we all know that being trampled is a perfectly acceptable consequence for our carelessness.
I was feeling very lucky to be back in this humorless, miserable company again.
We will see what tomorrow brings.