Purgatory Online

Monday, September 27, 2004

Well, I guess Jose went and crossed the line, finally. As most of the baseball world knows by now, Jose Guillen has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season and any possible postseason appearances for his conduct after being removed for a pinch-runner in Saturday's game against the A's. I've still not seen video of what Guillen did, except for the obvious displeasure he displayed while still at first base, but it's described as:
Guillen threw his arms into the air at first base, walked slowly off the field, tossed his helmet toward the side of the dugout Scioscia was standing in and walked to the opposite side of the dugout before entering. He then fired his glove against the dugout wall.

Guillen has seemed to be walking a fine line for much of the season. When things were going well for him at the plate, he's appeared jovial and prankish; when he's struggling, he's been sullen and prone to pointless outbursts. Seeing Jose slam his bat to the turf in frustration after yet another pop-up has been one of the recurring images of this September. Obviously, judging Guillen based only on what you see on television or read in the papers is foolish. At this point, however, if Scioscia and Stoneman are saying that Guillen has been putting himself ahead of the team, I've got no problem believing it. This club is founded on the philosophy that the W is more important than anything else, and - at this time of year especially - the distraction of dealing with churlish displays like Guillen's is simply intolerable.

Is the punishment too harsh? Perhaps. There's no way to judge that without knowing what's gone on behind the scenes. But right now, the question is irrelevant. The Angels will put this behind them, just as they've put every setback they've had in the last couple of years behind them. If they lose one, you won't hear "if only we had Jose Guillen, we could've won that game," but "how are we going to use the pieces we have to win the next game?" That's the attitude that any team needs to win when the chips are down. If Jose Guillen is listening, and can take it to heart, he's got the talent to not just contribute, but lead.

In 2005.

Right now, the Angels will worry about the Texas Rangers, like the professionals they are.