04/06/08 7:48 PM ET
No, Joe: Ozzie says Pudge is best
TV's Morgan stirs ire over Sox manager's Rodriguez allegiance
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Before Guillen spoke with a quartet of White Sox beat writers for his customary pregame interview session, he had a brief on-field conversation with ESPN announcer Joe Morgan. According to Guillen, the talk with Morgan moved to the topic of the best player to ever come from Puerto Rico, of which Guillen offered up Ivan Rodriguez as the answer when a group of Detroit writers questioned him before Saturday's game about "Pudge" sitting within one hit of 2,500 for his career.
Guillen said that Morgan told him he was crazy for picking Rodriguez and Roberto Alomar, for that matter, over Roberto Clemente, to which the White Sox manager punctuated the conversation with a few choice words and then walked away. Guillen's ire was raised enough that he continued talking about the topic before his pregame interview with the media, during the interview and after the interview.
At one point, Guillen walked back into the clubhouse and then returned with a button featuring Clemente on it and a sticker that said "Retire 21," which Guillen said he brings everywhere. While Guillen might have picked Rodriguez over Clemente, based on what Rodriguez has done behind the plate and with the bat for close to two decades, there are few people who are bigger fans of Clemente than Guillen.
His home in Venezuela includes a room dedicated to Clemente and the memorabilia he has collected in honor of the legend. Guillen's middle son, Oney, currently playing second base in the White Sox organization, has the middle name of Roberto. Guillen also pulled out his wallet, showing a picture of his family, with a picture of Clemente right behind them.
Before Morgan exited for the broadcast booth, he cut through the White Sox dugout, pointed to Guillen and quipped how the White Sox manager was a little crazy. But Guillen didn't find quite as much humor in the matter, not so much arguing the difference of opinion, but the presumption that his informed opinion was wrong.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.