Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- For fans of the modern-era Chicago White Sox, run by bold and brash general manager Ken Williams and piloted by feisty, eighth-year manager Ozzie Guillen, Monday's Winter Meetings news couldn't be better.
Just a few weeks after declaring he was 'confused' by reports that the White Sox were in discussions -- to what degree is still disputed -- to trade him to the Florida Marlins, the skipper made a quick dine-and-dash visit to the Winter Meetings and reported that all is well between him and Williams.
Their longtime friendship -- Guillen tearfully broke the news to Williams that he had been traded by the White Sox when the two were teammates during spring training of 1989 -- was build on the mutual respect the two shared. Guillen famously had been hired at the 11th hour by Williams, in spite of spending a substantial portion of his interview arguing with Williams.
The foundation of their friendship was shaken last year, when Guillen's middle son, Oney (then a White Sox employee), criticized the team via Twitter, digging in even deeper after he was fired for his outbursts. The relationship unraveled from there, poisoning the season for Guillen.
"This summer, I told my wife I couldn't wait until 2010 was over; 2010 was a very, very, very, very bad year for me, personally. Last year, we were 25-5 in one stretch and I didn't enjoy one game because of the problem we had off the field. It's not fun to come to work for anybody that way."
The two team leaders spoke at the end of the season and both declared the friendship to be patched up -- by October, Guillen was openly campaigning for a vote of confidence as manager -- but the mentor later revised his thoughts, speculating the he felt the relationship was much better, but would never be the same.
"I'm not saying the relationship wasn't working, but to make it the way it was, that's what I was looking for," Guillen said. "The problems were not on the field, they were personal."
Last week, in advance of Chicago's inking of slugger Adam Dunn, Guillen asked Williams out to dinner and the two spent upwards of four hours talking out their problems. To Guillen, that alone was a massive sign of respect he was showing his boss.
"When I have dinner with someone, that means something: It means I respect you and want to hear what you are going to say," Guillen said. "I want you to hear me and what I'm going to say ... and the conversation was great."
Recounting the discussion, its results brought a palpable look of relief to Guillen's face as he spoke to team beat writers.
"Everything is moving forward. We talked about the team and what we want to do," Guillen said. "But personally, we talked like grown-up people. The relationship we had in the past, the way we talked and communicated, it had to come back. We have to grow up and move on, make sure all the hatchets are buried and we don't burn bridges. It's not healthy. It's not good for the ballclub. It's not good for anyone.
"I promise Jerry Reinsdorf and Williams, I will do my part and do the best I can to make this work ... it will work out. It can't be the same situation. No way -- no way it will be the same."
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.