Hopefully, these are the final words on the most publicized meal involving sports figures in Chicago since LeBron James was spotted at Ed Debevics. I kid, of course–that place was the one spot where James wasn’t reportedly found.
“I hope it was good. I hope it was good.”
That comment came from White Sox general manager Ken Williams at today’s Double Duty Classic at U.S. Cellular Field, when asked for his opinion about Friday’s dinner involving much maligned Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and their respective families. The dinner came the same night after Zambrano’s dugout meltdown during the White Sox 6-0 victory at U.S. Cellular Field, resulting in the Cubs suspending their hurler.
Williams added how he spoke to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry about the dinner but simply to clarify Guillen’s role as friend in the matter.
“It’s an unusual situation, and I wanted to make sure they understand we were respecting Chicago Cubs business,” Williams said. “You’ve heard me say, ‘Stay out of White Sox business,’ and I didn’t want that perception over there.
“They viewed it as a positive, with one friend dining with another and making sure a certain message, Ozzie can get a certain message to Carlos maybe few others can get through. If it turns out to be a positive, then good for everyone.
“Is it a dicey situation? Yeah, it is. It is,” Williams said. “But all of the men you are talking about, myself, (Cubs manager) Lou (Piniella) or Ozzie, we are all friends, we’ve been there. We know there’s no maliciousness in our dealings at all. I don’t think they thought much of it other than maybe wanting (Zambrano) to step up a bit in other ways.”
The call also was placed by Williams in support of his manager because he wanted to make sure it was known Guillen’s involvement should not be construed as any sort of meddling, as Williams felt might have been wrongly portrayed in Saturday media reports.
“I wanted to make sure that Jim and Lou didn’t misinterpret Ozzie’s action as anything other than from the heart and at a friendship level,” Williams said. “That’s all.”
When fans rise in unison and a murmur starts in the stands during the Crosstown Classic at either Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field, usually it means a fight has broken out between passionate Cubs and White Sox supporters.
There clearly was something different going on after the first inning of Friday’s 6-0 victory for the White Sox.
Fans seated near the White Sox dugout and near the Cubs dugout watched Carlos Zambrano let loose on anyone who would listen as he stomped around his teammates, screaming about his team’s performance during a four-run first inning for the South Siders. Of course, nobody on his team hung a 0-2 changeup to Carlos Quentin, resulting in a three-run home run.
Zambrano’s crazy tirade resulted in the right-hander being pulled from the game after one inning, a suspension issued by the Cubs and an embarrassment for an organization already suffering through a miserable 2010 campaign. It was the topic of conversation for much of Ozzie Guillen’s postgame press conference, primarily because of Guillen’s close relationship with Zambrano, Derrek Lee, who had to be kept apart from Zambrano and Cubs manager Lou Piniella.
Zambrano and the Guillen family also had dinner after Friday’s contest.
“He got a lot of time to make the reservation,” said Guillen of Zambrano, drawing a big laugh from the assembled media.
Guillen defended Zambrano after the incident, stating how Carlos is a great guy. It’s a sentiment echoed by many who know the hurler around the city of Chicago, but that off-field persona might not be able to save his on-field temper in this situation.
“A lot of people don’t know Carlos,” Guillen said. “When he puts his uniform on he like to compete, likes to do well. Off the field, he’s a different cat.
“That’s part of the game. That’s the way he is. If I see him, that’s the way he is and you’re not going to change that. Now he has to come back to the team and talk to his teammates I guess. It’s not an easy situation, but he will be alright.”
One of the questions asked of Guillen was whether he could manage someone like Zambrano. He quickly responded, ‘Yes,’ adding how he could manage anyone.
In a credit to White Sox general manager Ken Williams, Guillen hasn’t been saddled with any players causing situations such as Friday’s during his seven-year reign. He has made some disciplinary moves but never had to handle such a disrespectful maneuver toward teammates.
Yet, in theory, Guillen thought he could handle Zambrano.
“I can manage anybody. I can,” Guillen said. “Why not? You go about your stuff, you believe in yourself, you believe in respect. I’m not afraid [to manage] any player in baseball because I’m going to give them all the respect I can to perform for me.
“You can call me lucky because sometimes guys overreact out there. You tell them right away, ‘Cut it down.’ With that situation, I don’t know how I would react because that hasn’t happened to us yet. If that happened to us, that’s different and you would have to see how I would respond. That hasn’t happened yet.
“I’m the one that’s crazy in the clubhouse,” a smiling Guillen said. “I’m not saying I’m a dictator, but I don’t believe in guys going out there and fighting each other.
“Sometimes that’s good for the team. Sometimes they need that, you never know. When that happens, it wakes a lot of people up and they play better. But I don’t think it puts the Cubs in a different situation. They’re going to go out there and try and win the game tomorrow.”
Jake Peavy earned the win on Friday with seven scoreless innings, and the laid-back, good-natured right-hander is a demonstrative force in his own right on the field. Peavy spoke of composure being so important to success, especially in a high-energy, high-profile series like the Cubs-White Sox, after the intense competitor’s victory.
“Composure is everything in this game,” Peavy said. “It’s easy with the adrenaline and atmosphere you have in this series. There’s no doubt about it, when you take the field, when you come to the ballpark, when you wake up, you know it’s a little bit different day than your normal start day.
“That’s fun. That’s what you live for as a player. I can tell you I had a little more nerves going into this game than I did five days ago going when we played in Washington. That’s just the bottom line.
“In a game like this, it’s very easy if things don’t go well on the field or off the field, you can let your emotions get the best of you,” Peavy said. “The biggest thing is channeling your emotions the right way. I certainly haven’t done it all the time but today I was able to do it for the most part. Obviously, I know Carlos had a rough day and had some stuff happen. They’ll get that resolved as a team.”