Usually it’s Ozzie Guillen who suffers from foot-in-mouth disease.
But now it is Marlins pitcher Heath Bell extracting his shoe in order to stamp out incendiary comments he made criticizing Guillen for lack of leadership and honesty.
Guillen responded with the kind of diplomatic restraint that would impress Kofi Annan. Not a single F-bomb crossed Guillen’s lips when he talked about the disgruntled Bell.
“I respect his opinion,” Guillen said Tuesday on his 790 The Ticket radio show. “I talk a lot, so I can’t tell anybody to shut up.”
Who knew a last-place team would be so entertaining as it staggers toward season’s end?
There’s the spat between Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was fired by Loria after a slow start in 2010 following the team’s two most recent winning seasons in 2008 and 2009.
Gonzalez called Loria fickle and impossible to please. Loria called Gonzalez “a colossal failure,” and said his comments were “classless” and “not nice.”
No quiet ending
The wretched Marlins are going out with both a whimper and a bang.
Dissension and distrust. Back-stabbing and backpedaling. Insults and innuendo.
If only the Marlins showed this much fight on the field.
But, alas, no. In a comedy of errors, they were recently swept by the Mets, their rival for the bottom of the National League East.
They have a three-game series in Atlanta. They return home for a six-game dirge, three against the Phillies, three against those awful Nyets.
Marlins Park, so groovy at the start of a season that seemed so promising, could be an echo chamber.
Unless Bell pitches. Then you’ll hear the boos rain down like an afternoon thunderstorm.
Bell, closer turned whiner, has become the most unpopular sports figure in South Florida since Nick Saban.
He’s the emblem of the Marlins’ 2012 Grand Reinvention: A dud. A colossal dud. An overpriced, overrated, overweight dud. In April and May, Bell could not close a game — or the refrigerator.
Bad news bell
He blew save after save, walking in runs, giving up home runs, wasting leads. The Marlins never recovered from their poor start. Bell’s ERA ballooned like his waistline and even now it’s still an unsightly 5.19. He was demoted to middle reliever in July, and the Marlins tried to trade him twice.
Loria, enamored of Bell’s 40-plus-save record for San Diego in each of the three seasons previous to this one, paid dearly to sign him to a three-year, $27 million contract despite murmurs that he was past his prime. Bell, along with other marquee signings, was to fulfill Loria’s promise that he would finally spend for winning talent once he got his own stadium.
Instead, the Marlins could finish with a record worse than last year’s 90-loss mark. Bell was the biggest of many mistakes and misguided expectations. Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, Gaby Sanchez, Edward Mujica and Anibal Sanchez were all traded away.
Bell is still here, much to the dismay of his teammates, who dislike him and have come to Guillen’s defense. On Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. in the visitors’ clubhouse in Atlanta, Guillen’s radio show was broadcast at full volume — this was by design — while Bell and the rest of the Marlins listened in silence.