Guillen Stays His Wacky Course

Times Staff Writer

One win from his organization’s first World Series appearance in 46 seasons, 24 hours, maybe, from baseball heaven, Ozzie Guillen had to know one thing: The better soccer player -- Pele or Maradona?

An hour after they beat the Angels, 8-2, Saturday night at Angel Stadium, Chicago White Sox players said they would play tonight’s Game 5 as they had played the previous four, or the previous 169, or some variation of such.

But Guillen, he would live tonight as he had lived every day this season, and every day before that, and then he’d start on the next day, and he’d shout and laugh and fuss through the whole thing.


Yes, he knows the Angels remain dangerous. Yes, he knows they just lost five in a row to the Angels, all at U.S. Cellular Field, through Tuesday. Yes, he knows there hasn’t been a World Series game in Chicago since 1959, a World Series title since 1917, and that an entire city will lean into this one game, hearts banging, pleading, bulging.

But, for real, standing in the center of the visitors’ clubhouse, he wanted to know: The better two-sport athlete -- Bo Jackson or Brian Jordan?

And how about Davy Concepcion, “my guy,” he said -- How come you guys haven’t voted him into the Hall of Fame?

The next game would get there soon enough. Meantime -- Seriously, is golf a sport?

The White Sox, it would appear, already have had their most tense American League moments of the season, back when they dumped 13 1/2 games to the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. They pushed through that, played better in the final week, and have won six of seven playoff games to eliminate the Boston Red Sox and bring the Angels to the brink of the same destiny.

They have had four consecutive starters pitch into the ninth inning, and three finish. Guillen’s home-run hitters have hit home runs. His leadoff man has gotten on base, stolen bases, scored runs. The White Sox are playing their game, and keeping the Angels from theirs. So far.


“We are not the type of team that [is] cocky,” Guillen said. “I think the cockiest guy is me, and I’m pretty low-key in the playoffs.”

Low key, apparently, means wondering aloud why the pitching coach is wandering around the clubhouse in his underwear, and demanding to know if Joe Torre, the Joe Torre, would ever walk around in the clubhouse in his underwear, for heaven’s sake.

In the corners of his clubhouse, his players wear stern expressions and talk about the gravity of running through the ALCS finish line, of the hardships of putting away a quality team, of the fight still living within the Angels. Guillen certainly feels the same urgency, the conflicting senses of elation and panic, he just can’t work up some bland attitude about it.

They stay level-headed.

“That was big for us all year long,” left fielder Scott Podsednik said. “I have to credit Ozzie Guillen for that.”

He gets a little wacky. And it fits. “I always say, ‘Don’t let the monster wake up,’ ” Guillen said. “I said that against Boston. I said that against Cleveland. ... Hopefully, tomorrow we do it or else we have to be prepared for the next day. Tomorrow is a big game for us, maybe the biggest game we’re going to play this year, and hopefully we come home with a victory.”

If not, at least he’ll have settled the Pele-Maradona argument.