Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Come on and shine

Hints, allegations, things left unsaid

Today was Jose Guillen Day in DC. You might have heard that Congress was up really late the other night, and the president was anxiously awaiting a bill to sign. Well, that was the Jose Guillen Day bill; yeah, DC's pumped up about its baseball.

Guillen gets the double-shot treatment from the Post and Times today. Both are fairly cheery, optimistic looks at Guillen's, well, sometimes uncentered personality. But, really, we
know about this stuff, anyway.

The Post story explores an angle that the Times article does not, however. Specifically, Barry Svrluga incorporates a detailed assessment of Guillen by Jose Rijo, who shares a hometown with Guillen and is now a Nats special assistant under family man Jim Bowden. Svrluga's article lays out some credentials that would qualify Rijo to make a particularized evaluation of Guillen---not that this quote differs greatly from your standard sportswriter take:

"He's in my top five ability-wise. But then again, he's not in the top 1,000 on my list of behavior."

Nevertheless, The Nat Fanatic took umbrage with Rijo---if not with Rijo's words themselves, then with Rijo's words in concert with his position in the organization and his history with Guillen:

You want a player to change? Support him. Don't get quoted in a national ewspaper, as Rijo did, saying "he's not in the top 1,000 on my list of behavior". Guillen has done nothing - nothing - but show a positive attitude, a big smile, and pretty darn good play since he arrived at Spring Training. It's one thing to take a "Spring Training doesn't matter" stance with respect to wins and loses, but it sure does matter when it comes to your players' performance. Guillen's doing what he should be doing, and for that he should get support from team management. Sure, it's reasonable to have reservations. It's even reasonable to mention them in an interview. But it's inexcusable to talk about them without spending as much time - or even more - on Guillen's positive aspects.

Reasonable minds can disagree, and I suppose they do here, because I don't find what Rijo said to be particularly objectionable.

1) On the simplest level, I think Rijo can and should say whatever the hell he wants to with respect to Guillen. He goes way back with the guy---knows first-hand Guillen's emotional strengths and weaknesses. What Rijo has witnessed is rather probative to the issue of Guillen's demeanor. (Although an interesting exercise is to imagine that Svrluga, not a native of the Dominican Republic such as Rijo, is the source of the thoughts on Dominican youngsters; Barry would probably get fired.)

2) Quotes from Guillen during this offseason steer me to the arm-chair conclusion that the guy rates about a 4-out-of-10 on the "Respect for Authority Meter." Presumably, Guillen looks up to Rijo---who, after all, is an older, more experienced native of his hometown. Perhaps he'll take better to constructive criticism from a fellow he naturally respects.

3) Guillen also strikes me as a classic happy-when-things-are-going-well, p.o.'ed-when-they're-not player. Remember his quote from January about playing time? To paraphrase, it was, "Hey Manager-man: So help me God if you bench me." So I'm not sure exactly how relevant his spring demeanor might be if he's hitting .245 in late July, the team is 41-54, and Robinson says, "Hey, let's mix in some guys from New Orleans."

4) Rijo's quotations are not wholly pessimistic; rather, Rijo's main point is that the guy just isn't there yet:

"The little things in life that make you a better person, he doesn't understand them yet. He hasn't started doing all of them yet. Will he start doing them? Yes, he will. But right now, he hasn't proven he can do them all the time."

All told, I don't see that what Rijo said is all that big a deal, although I'll acknowledge that The Fanatic's take is not necessarily over-sensitive, either.

---You might have noticed, or you might not have, that I've been away for a few days. So, to clarify the issue: Yes, I've been away for a few days. Today, in fact, I was actually in a neat locale where Nats hats abound. (For the record,
Ballwonk isn't alone in believing that the blue hats are superior; not sure about the conjured green ones, though.) I grew up in Richmond and do like it, but I must concede that I miss DC.

---Amazingly, the "On being a GW basketball fan" series added
another reader beyond the few I knew who would find it even somewhat interesting. Duly emboldened---and eased from the shackles of what was holding up Part III---I will conclude the series with the thrilling, um, conclusion either tomorrow or Thursday.

I am in the blue hat camp, but since I generally do not like anything red other than Heinz ketchup, this is hardly surprising. However, I will be adding the red hat to my collection one of these days. It looks good with the complete uniform, but not as good on someone walking down the street. Still, it is much better than almost anything a new team has worn in the last 35 or so years.
Yes, I think you demonstrated that excellently in your "hat analysis" last week. (BTW, I never noticed how nice Colorado's hat was until your post; maybe the hat looks better by itself and worse in conjunction with the uniform?)
My biggest problem with the red hats is that, from a distance, they seem nearly indistinguishable from the Phillies' hats -- and of course we're in the same division as them.

I also don't like the idea of wearing a red hat with a big ol' W on it, but we don't need to go there. ;)
Hell, Yuda, before the real hats came out, I had a red white and blue one with a nice block W on it. I didn't wear it all that much - especially from October on - because I didn't want to start arguments on the Metro.
I think I had mentioned this before...

But I had my red W hat in Minneapolis over Thanksgiving, which was right after it was unveiled and before 99.40% of the public would know what it is. (We're up to 99.1% now, I think)

I can't tell you how many stares I got wearing that thing!

Oh, and great job knocking down the homercentric puffery!
You know, I've never thought of that (the second observation, that is), Yuda. Either you're an observant dude, or I'm a dolt. Or both. ;-)
So I can't help but notice that you're all over my Rijo rant (and as I read it a day later it does seem awfully ranty), yet you fail to mention my skillful use of the word "nifty" in a sentence.

(hey, I did it again!)

Very nifty, my man. Very nifty.

Hey, just for a little equal opportunity ranting, you can pick apart my hyper-sensitive take on what some sportswriter said; it's at the top of the page. ;-)
One of my favorite moments since getting the team was getting death-stares from a family wearing Iggles clothing at the Lehigh Valley Service area on the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike in mid-Feb. They knew what it was and they didn't like it at all. Ah, it will be a good rivalry, methinks.
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