The Bald Truth
He is smug, condescending and egotistical. Often full of crap, too. Phil Jackson also is a 10-time champion.
Yes, he's had great players. Hello! What winning coach hasn't? Red Auerbach had a few great players, too. So did Scotty Bowman, Pat Riley, Casey Stengel, Chuck Noll, Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Miller Huggins, etc.
Think about all the superstars those great winners coached/managed ... and not a one
of them won 10 titles.
Jackson's secret? He empowered his players to believe in themselves and in each other. He put his players in position to succeed, getting the most out of what they could do and rarely asking them to do something they couldn't. Mostly, he was willing to get out of his very best players' way and let them lead.
Yes, Michael and Kobe were/are great players. No, Jackson never won a title without them. But you know what? They never won without him, either, and they had plenty of chances to do so.
No longer can Shaquille O'Neal say Kobe needed The Big Attention Hog to win championships. Fact is, Shaq never came close to winning without being carried by a great game-closer - first Kobe, then Dwyane Wade.
Anybody who thinks it was the other way around wasn't paying close enough attention.
The Balder Truth
The few who begrudgingly give Ozzie Guillen credit for being a good manager usually cite his motivational abilities. As a strategist, well, to his critics he's no Tony La Russa, no Mike Scioscia, no Bobby Cox.
All I know is that not many managers would have given A.J. Pierzynski the green light in the ninth inning of a tie game with two on, two out and a 3-0 count against Trevor Hoffman, a future Hall of Famer who hadn't allowed a run all season.
Ozzie did. A.J. singled. And the White Sox beat the Brewers, with Guillen outmanaging his Milwaukee counterpart for the second straight day using NL rules.
"One thing about Wrigley Field, I puke every time I go there." - Ozzie Guillen
Yep, this is gonna be a fun week of Chicago baseball, kids.
THE BALDEST TRUTH
In canning Lou Piniella's hand-picked hitting coach, Gerald Perry, it is clear that Jim Hendry used his authority as Cubs GM to pull rank on Sweet Lou.
That means something.
For one thing, it means Piniella has less control than most of us thought he did.
For another, it means a desperate Hendry has shifted into cover-my-ass mode: I brought in these hitters. Therefore, they can hit. If they aren't hitting, it must be somebody else's fault.
There have been hundreds of Cubbie scapegoats over the years, so Perry has to get in line. But facts are facts: Right up until the day before the move, Lou was singing Perry's praises.
That the skipper would just sit there and let his friend fall on the team's sword tells us more about Lou than we knew 24 hours earlier.
I like Lou, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more than a little disappointed in him.