Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guillen Right AND Wrong When It Comes To Clemente Remarks

Ozzie Guillen should have quit while he was ahead, but then again, he's rarely ahead, so he's not all that experienced in that area.

I'm talking about his mouth, and its proclivity to utter things normally said by imbeciles.

I'm going to weigh in on something Guillen said last week, which means it's about ten dumb things ago. But it made some national, indeed international, news, so here goes.

Ozzie, in trying to heap praise on Tigers catcher Pudge Rodriguez, said that Rodriguez was the best baseball player ever to come from Puerto Rico. He even placed Pudge above one of that country's heroes, Roberto Clemente. A rather stunning remark, but Guillen did a pretty admirable job stating his case. He cited Rodriguez playing a more physically demanding position, his longevity, and his seeming ability to play at a high level for several more years. Not to mention all of his accomplishments thus far. I actually found myself concurring with Guillen on the Pudge/Clemente comparison, as controversial as it was.

But then Guillen, as usual, took it too far.

"I'd say Clemente is the third-best player from Puerto Rico," the White Sox manager said, "behind Pudge and Roberto Alomar."


Roberto Clemente, the no. 1 (or no. 2) player from Puerto Rico; but DEFINITELY not no. 3

Pudge Rodriguez? Yes, perhaps. But not Robby Alomar. I'm sorry.

Guillen isn't the only one here qualified to make such comparisons. I saw both Clemente and Alomar play, and you just can't put Alomar in front of the Pirates' no. 21. No way. Forget the numbers. Clemente was killed while still an active player, and there was no sign that he was about to hang up his spikes. He was, frankly, the Pirates' best player in the 1971 World Series win over Baltimore, at age 37. So he would have added considerably to his 3,000 hits and everything else.

It's hard for me to make this seemingly obvious argument, because there's just too much at my disposal. But suffice it to say that while Alomar was a fine ballplayer and one of the best second basemen of his generation, he wasn't as complete of a player as Clemente was. Nor did he do as much for any of the teams that he played for as Clemente did for the Pirates.

I'm still not all that comfy about placing Pudge over Clemente, but it's feasible. You can make a case, and Ozzie did. But he went too far when he placed Alomar in the no. 2 slot.

"It's my opinion," Guillen said. "It doesn't have to be the right one."

It's not.


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