Here's the deal: as you may have heard, Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen got himself a suspension from the Angels last year. After being hit by a pitch and lifted for a pinch-runner, Jose threw his batting helmet somewhere in the vicinity of Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia, the spelling of whose name I'm not afraid to admit I had to look up. Guillen was suspended for the last week of the regular season, a week in which the Angels were battling with Oakland for the AL West championship and the opportunity to get mangled by Boston. Obviously Anaheim thought Guillen's transgression(s) serious enough to deprive themselves of a guy who'd been their second-best hitter over the course of the season, and Angels GM Bill Stoneman was quoted as saying, "Unfortunately, this was not the first time something has cropped up with Jose."
But he's a changed man! Guillen is everyone's best friend, he's learned his lesson, and he's quick to point out that he took anger management classes without any prompting from anyone. He said so to the Post. He said so to the Times. He even said it on ESPN yesterday, as did Jim Bowden. But have a look at this San Francisco Chronicle article written by Susan Slusser on January 17:
One requirement of Guillen's suspension was that he attend anger-management classes.Naturally, I was confused. Guillen in February tells everyone covering his new team that the classes were his idea. But a non-Washington source from January indicates that he was forced to. To clear this up, I sort of followed Will Carroll's advice and sent out some emails. Susan Slugger of the Chronicle and Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post were gracious enough to respond. Sheinin indicated that he was going by what Guillen said, so we have no confirmation of Guillen's claims. Slusser told me that she believed the classes were part of the suspension (probably a condition of the settlement detailed here). Unfortunately, we'll likely never know the real story; Slusser also informed me that the only parties privy to such information aren't allowed to tell anyone.
I think Guillen's lying, and I don't think he's learned a thing from any of this. The only ones reporting that the anger management classes were Jose's idea got it from Jose. A non-Washington source reporting a month earlier tells a different story, one that doesn't make Guillen look as good. But perhaps more importantly, Guillen's and Bowden's claims that everything's better now ring false when you really look at what Jose's said about the situation. For one thing, he didn't need those classes.
I didn't really need anger-management classes, but I'll do whatever I can and maybe they'll help me. I wanted to see what was going on and learn to react better. I'm fine, though. I don't think I have any problem, but maybe I'll take something good out of it.Sounds like someone hasn't taken the first step of admitting he has a problem. Furthermore, Guillen tells us that his good behavior is conditional.
"If I'm producing and you sit me, though, we're going to have a little problem."What happens if he and Frank Robinson have a different definition of "producing"? What if Frank wants to mix it up and get Sledge or Church in the lineup or (God forbid) pinch run for Guillen? And of course, none of this is his fault.
"When I talked to [Angels manager] Mike [Scioscia] and [general manager] Bill [Stoneman] over there, I think they know they overreacted a little bit. There were some stories that were not true."I haven't followed Scioscia's career closely, but he doesn't seem to have a lot of problems with his guys. He's not Larry Bowa or anything, and I'm inclined to take his word over a that of a player on his seventh team in seven years. But everyone likes him, right?
"I never had a problem with my teammates."I guess that depends on how much value you place on what his teammates say. Or on what Guillen himself says, for that matter.
This winter, Guillen accused [Angels pitcher Jarrod] Washburn of being one of the players who lobbied management to cut him loose . . .That's one teammate he had a problem with, evidently. What about the rest of them?
The mere mention of Jose Guillen's name still produces rolled eyes, bemused smirks and staccato harrumphs from his former Anaheim Angels teammates. . .Bowden has a good personal relationship with Guillen, and his kids love him. As far as I'm concerned, that makes him less qualified to make a judgment on his stability. Any jackass has friends who will defend him, especially if he's good at something and a millionaire - Pete Rose still has guys who follow him around. It's quite possible that Guillen will work out fine in Washington. He certainly has the support of management, and the fans are more than willing to give him a chance. But the way he left Anaheim has been dimissed as irrelevant, and it should not have been.
The fact was, the Angels believed they were better off without Guillen . . .
"It was management's decision, and I'm not here to say if it was right or wrong," [Angels pitcher John] Lackey said. "But I'll say this: Chemistry has a lot to do with winning."