Guillen no fan of Wrigley Field
White Sox skipper pokes fun at The Friendly Confines
CHICAGO -- A new chapter of the Cubs-White Sox rivalry, quite possibly the most intense regular-season matchups in all of baseball, couldn't be christened without a humorous shot fired Friday afternoon by Ozzie Guillen at venerable Wrigley Field.
So, MLB.com now yields the floor to the White Sox manager.
"You are going to take batting practice and the rats look bigger than a pig out there," said Guillen, referring to the batting cages under the right-field bleachers. "You want to take a look?
"I think the rats out there are lifting weights," added Guillen, drawing huge laughter from the large crowd of assembled media.
Both teams enter in first place, with the White Sox holding a 4 1/2-game lead over Minnesota in the American League Central, and the Cubs leading St. Louis by 3 1/2 games, with Milwaukee close behind at 5 1/2 games. The White Sox strut into this series on the heels of a three-game sweep, during which they outscored the Pirates by a 37-15 margin and launched 10 home runs.
The Cubs are coming off their first three-game losing streak and, in turn, the first time they have been swept in a three-game series during the 2008 campaign. The Rays rallied for six runs in the seventh against Carlos Marmol and Scott Eyre on Thursday, knocking out the North Siders. It was a sweep that provided little surprise to Guillen, who watched his team lose three straight in St. Petersburg to close out a four-game set from May 29 to June 1.
Guillen's lone shock was that Cubs manager Lou Piniella stayed relatively calm during his postgame chat, unlike Guillen's terse exit interview leaving Florida.
"He wanted to erupt, but he couldn't," said Guillen, smiling. "It was a different conversation with Piniella then mine when we left Tampa. It was less flavor.
"At least we aren't the only one who played really bad, but Tampa has a great ballclub. They can beat you in so many ways. They are underrated, and when they play at home, they are dangerous."
Don't look for the Cubs' three-game hangover produced by the Rays to carry over into this weekend. Not when the Cubs are riding an 11-game home winning streak, and not when the Cubs are tied for baseball's top home mark at 29-8.
In all honesty, Guillen isn't so much worried about the Cubs as he is happy with the way his team is playing. There also are no controversies involving blow-up dolls, Guillen diatribes or comments made on local sports radio stations by the manager or one of his players to take the focus off what promises to be a tremendous weekend of competition.
About the only problem for Guillen is playing these first three games of two weekend sets at Wrigley Field itself. So, before closing, Guillen deserves one more opportunity to take a shot at the North Side baseball facility.
"What's wrong with saying I don't like this ballpark?" Guillen said. "You ask any player which one they like less and they might throw in some names. Ask me about it, and this is the one I pick.
"It's a museum. They like to come to Wrigley Field. I don't say people don't like to come here. I say Ozzie don't like to come here.
"But hey, you have to do what you have to do," Guillen added. "Wake up in the morning and go to Wrigley Field is not a good thing. But it's fun to play against them."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.