Send the right message about team work
September 28, 2004
You’ve seen the beer commercial on television featuring the ultimate me-first professional athlete – Leon? You’ve heard the sportscaster tell Leon, “There’s no I in team,” to which Leon replies …. “There’s no we, either?”
I couldn’t help but think about Leon Sunday when I read the Angels had suspended Jose Guillen without pay for his third public incident of misconduct this season occurred Saturday. The incident occurred after Guillen was hit by a pitch to lead off the eighth inning and then was pulled in favor of pinch-runner Alfredo Amezaga. Guillen reacted in disgust, walked back to the dugout and threw his glove against the wall of the dugout. The next day Guillen was informed of the team’s decision to suspend him for the rest of the regular season, and the entire postseason, if the team were to get that far.
I also couldn’t help but think about Leon while reading the headline on Monday … “Players union files grievance against Guillen’s suspension.”
C’mon, give me a break! And please, will somebody put a disclaimer on the Guillen story – “Kids, don’t try this at home!”
For once, it was refreshing to see a star held accountable for his actions and to see a message go out that the team is more important that the star.
Guillen (pronounced GHEE-yen) is a star who has tons of potential. Look at the stats because he is hitting .294 with 27 home runs and 104 RBIs. Good numbers, but then again, that’s why the Angels offered a $6 million, two-year contract during the offseason. FYI: Guillen hit .143 with two singles and no RBIs in his final four games.
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So, is the 28-year-old left fielder a major reason why the Angels are in the thick of a red hot AL West pennant race? That’s highly debatable, despite with the statistics may say, and obviously, the Angels felt Guillen was expendable at this point in the season. MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman reported on Monday that shortstop David Eckstein described Guillen as a “great player,” but also said, “In order to go out and win a world championship, we need to have everybody on the same page.”
Guillen obviously was not on the same page in May when he was beaned in a game at Toronto and then reportedly unleashed a tirade against his teammates because he felt they didn’t retaliate on his behalf.
So, will this episode serve as a lesson to Guillen? Perhaps. In time. Remember, this is a guy who signed with the Pirates in 1992 as an amateur free agent at age 16 out of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, and broke into the majors five years later. But since 1999, he has played for seven teams – Pirates (he was traded away in 1999), Devil Rays (released in 2001), Diamondbacks (released in 2002), Rockies (released in 2002), Reds (traded in 2003), Athletics and then the Angels.
This isn’t Guillen’s first blowup, either. While playing for the Reds in June of 2003, an angry Guillen threw his bats into his locker after being told he would not be in the starting lineup for a Sunday game. Less than two months later, he was traded to Oakland for right-hander Aaron Harang and two minor league pitchers.
Maybe Guillen will come around and truly realize his full potential one day. That will be a treat for baseball fans. But before that happens, he may need to take heed of the MLB.com headline – “Alas, there’s no ‘Team’ in ‘Jose.’
Hear that Leon?
Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.