Hot-headhunting

More often than not, I’m a fan of Ozzie Guillen’s willingness to be candid.  For instance, I appreciated the way he discussed the center field situation earlier this week, discussing Rob Mackowiak and Scott Podsednik’s inability to handle center for more than a game at a time.  He talked about it firmly, but not in a way where he trashed his players.
Tonight, though, was a different matter.  And I’m wondering if Sean Tracey will pitch again for the Sox this year.
I was wondering why Guillen pulled Tracey after a batter, and it caught the Rangers announcers off-guard, as they didn’t expect to cut to commercial.  But afterwards, they showed why Ozzie pulled Tracey:
Tracey got Hank Blalock out, and he wasn’t supposed to.
Ozzie sent Tracey in to retaliate, and Tracey tried with the first pitch and missed.  It was a knee-high fastball, and Blalock jumped out of the way.  Instead of going all-in again, he stayed enough by the plate and induced a weak groundout from the Rangers third baseman.
Ozzie had seen enough.  First he came out immediately to pull him, and after he stayed on the mound long enough to hand the ball to Agustin Montero, Ozzie came back to the dugout and screamed at the rookie.  Tracey had taken a seat at the end of the bench, and Ozzie yelled the whole way down.  Later, the Texas broadcast showed Guillen slamming his water bottle after Blalock grounded out.
Throughout the rest of the seventh, the camera kept panning back to Tracey, who either had his head in his hands, or tucked inside his jersey.  He looked thoroughly humiliated.
Perhaps he deserved to be called out in front of cameras — Ozzie sent him to send a message, and he failed.  We know Guillen is big about teammates picking up teammates, and this would count as failing in that category.
But when he berated Tracey for not sending a message in plain view of cameras, I think he sent a wrong message himself.  Mainly, he looked downright vindictive, something he claimed not to be.  I’m reminded of this quote:

“People in this league think I’m a headhunter. Anytime one of my players
get hit, they warn me out of nowhere,” Guillen said. “I know the umpires have
to protect the integrity of the game and protect the players — and they’re
right. But I’m getting tired of them giving me a warning every time our guy
gets hit. We get hit more than any team in baseball. So if they think I’m a
headhunter, they’ve got the wrong guy.”

Ozzie had every right to tell his pitcher to throw at a Ranger, but if Tracey fails and Ozzie handles it calmly, he walks the talk.  Instead, by scaring the hell out of Tracey on film, he might have just solidified a reputation he’s unfairly earned.
We’ll see if Ozzie calms down with his postgame comments, but something tells me this has Jon Rauch written all over it.
Update:  According to Joe Cowley, this looks like the beginning of the end for Tracey.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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