Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Anger Management

"Why can’t someone do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking?" These words have been ringing in my head ever since Will Carroll took it upon himself to raise the bar for all us bloggers. "Why can’t someone do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking?" Every night in bed, they circle around and around in my skull. "Why can’t someone do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking?" Every day at work, they prevent from making up for the sleep I didn't get the night before. "Why can’t someone do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking?" Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. So I got to work: I threw off my blanket, put on my Jimmy Olsen hat, and told my boss I was leaving early. This one's for you, Will. You are the wind beneath my wings.

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. . .

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."
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.


Anonymous said...

I love the fact that you generally find the folks at Baseball Prospectus to be huge tools. I subscribe to the damned thing my own bad self and even read some of their writers when they appear elsewhere as well. However, it's my opinion that (most of) their writers have an over-inflated sense of themselves and that they suffer from that worst-of-all diseases: wholly unmerited smugness. Often, they're not even clever enough by half. (Close contest for winner of the Most Arrogant Jagoff Award: Is it Will Carroll or Dayn Perry?)

I'm not even a Nationals fan (though I have nothing against the Nats and hope they succeed - except when they play the Braves), but, like you, I've noticed that the assholes at BP can never say one freakin' positive thing about the new team in D.C.

I hope you continue to rag on the BP writers. They remind me of those little creeps we all run into from time to time, the ones who aren't nearly as smart as they seem to think they are.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why you are ranting on here when the bottom line is exactly as you have said in your own rant. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.
The Nats are not in a situation to be able to get the elite players in the league. You have to take a chance on a player or two.
If Guillen follows the rules - he is on the squad. But I will tell you this. This pitching staff needs better protect our hitters when they are hit by the opposition.
Get off Guillen ass and do not accuse him of lying when your only source is who?

Ryan said...

Brinkman - that's a tough contest. Sheehan is pretty arrogant but generally knows what he's talking about. I'd read BP if it were free, but I've decided that it's just not worth paying for.

Hubster - we may not know for sure why Guillen took the classes, but I think we can say fairly that he hasn't learned much from the whole experience. He still thinks it wasn't his fault and that he doesn't any help controlling his anger, when it's pretty clear to an unbiased observer that the opposite is true. It's media criticism as much as anything: we're being a fed a line about Guillen the Reformed Man when there's ample evidence to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

Here's my two cents on Guillen and his anger:

The players will handle it.

We all deal with people who are jerks and bullies at work. We all deal with people who have anger management issues / immaturity. It's the nature of life.

My guess is that if Jose throws another helmet and hits somebody, he'll get his a$$ kicked. I'm sure Castilla knows how to knock a guy down if he wants to.

And if the Nats players are willing to give him a fresh start, that's their business. There's no point in digging up ancient history. He's paid his price in a way that the average fan can't even imagine. Think of how much money he lost by throwing that helmet. Ask his agent what he would have been worth. My guess is he lost $2million dollars. If I threw a helmet and was fired I might lose 5% of that if I was out of work for a while.

Olivier said...

And I wouldn't throw a helmet in Wil Cordero's general viccinity either...

As of Frank Robinson, he ended up in a tussle with Fernando Tatis once.

I don't know if it's a question of intimidation, but if Guillen keeps hitting homers like the one vs the Mets, things will sail along pretty smoothly anyways.

Chris Needham said...

I'm not trying to pick nits, but Guillen didn't lose any money out of this ordeal. The contract he's playing under was not signed this offseason, but last year.

Now, he may have lost a little bit of money from the suspension last year (I know it was appealed, but I don't know what the ultimate result was). Regardless, he was only suspended for the last few weeks of the season, so at most, he'd lose 1/6th of his salary, or so.

Ryan said...

According to ESPN, the settlement between Guillen and the Angels meant that Guillen only had two days of his suspension without pay, down from the seven the original suspension called for.

My beef with Guillen is this: everything he's said indicates that he thinks he'll be fine in Washington. But it's not because he's learned a lesson and adjusted his attitude; rather, it's because he's around a new bunch of people, people who haven't "disrespected" him. He just can't admit that he may have screwed up or maybe he needs to look at things differently. It doesn't bode well.

Anonymous said...

Anger management classes are most effective when the client comes with a high level of motivation and a willingness to participate in a program. As the owner of a major Anger Management organization I can tell you that often when clients are mandated to attend they are usually less motivated to change than those that come willingly. Those that acknowledge that they have an anger problem will likely benefit from attending classes.

Ari Novick, M.A.