ANAHEIM, Calif. - A large group of reporters and TV types arrive Monday night at Angel Stadium with the intent of talking to the Washington Nationals' Jose Guillen on his first visit to Anaheim since being suspended for insubordination, and a team spokesman says Guillen will speak to everyone in the dugout at 4:45.
He's a few minutes late, takes his place before the reporters, but before he can answer the first question, Washington manager Frank Robinson demands everyone's attention so the PR guy can make an announcement.
The PR guy says Guillen will speak until 5, but Robinson interrupts with a stern pronouncement of his own, warning the media they can't ask Guillen any question having anything to do with last season.
"If anybody tries to go around the back door," Robinson continues, "that's the end of the press conference."
I try to tease Robinson. I tell him it's ridiculous to try to quash something one of his players might say, and I realize he doesn't know what quash means. (I've finally found someone I can whip in Scrabble.)
"What did you say?" he snaps, and had he added the biting word, "mister," at the end of that question, it'd have been just like talking to my dad before he blew his stack.
"I don't think it's right to tell someone what they can or cannot say," I say, and Robinson blows his stack, swearing at me. Just like my dad.
Robinson says he doesn't care what I have to say, and that makes him no different from most e-mailers or my wife.
Robinson says angrily, "I'm in control here and you're not ... and you can get your [butt] out of the dugout right now."
I realize if my [butt] leaves, everything else will follow, so I tell him I have no plans to go anywhere.
I tell him he's in control, but I'm entitled to an opinion - paid to give them - and it's silly he's getting so worked up.
"I'm not riled up," he replies. "You're the one who is riling me up."
I laugh, because that makes no sense, and now he's glaring at me. I start laughing some more because I realize he's looking at me through sunglasses with only one eye. I learn later he had Lasik surgery earlier in the day, which explains the pirate look.
Robinson grabs the media credential hanging around my neck.
It crosses my mind listening to Robinson's rant that people think Guillen has an anger-management problem.
The Cyclops takes a closer look at the nametag with his one good eye and says, "Your reputation precedes you."
"So does yours," I reply.
The Cyclops calls me a "smart [butt]," and I guess he wants to prove he really does know my reputation. I worry about Robinson's overreaction, wondering if he's been taking lessons from Guillen.
Guillen, meanwhile is trying to convince everyone he's now OK - even praising Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia - although a hovering Robinson is making it clear to everyone the guy still needs a baby sitter.
The PR guy announces there are three minutes left to ask Guillen questions - so long as they don't ask him what they really want to ask him.
The only thing I might ask Guillen now is advice on how to deal with the chip on Robinson's shoulder. But the interview is over.
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