Can we all agree that certain words are so potentially hurtful they should be used either rarely or never?
Good. Then let's not call it a suspension. Let's call it an intervention.
C'mon, White Sox, rescue your guy before he goes Archie Bunker on the rest of the world. Ozzie Guillen has already mocked the likes of A-Rod for not being Dominican enough, equated homosexuals with child molesters, ripped into a rookie for not intentionally hitting an opposing player, declared that if any pitcher hit him twice, "I'd be in the hospital or I'd be dead -- but I will fight, I will fight."
With that as the subtext, Guillen's homosexual slur of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti on Tuesday is less shocking than it is a continuation of a trend that has been gathering momentum -- virtually unchecked -- by the week.
It is the story of a man who became so lionized for speaking his mind that he forgot the part about having one. At some point, Guillen as a refreshing alternative to canned managerial quotes (Hey, no other managers talk like this!) morphed into the bile-spewing elephant in the living room. It isn't as though the White Sox didn't see it coming -- everybody in baseball has seen Guillen on the rage for months, even as no one lifted a hand to check him.
So now's the time. Stop this man before he runs off the rails. Save Guillen from himself by yanking him off the field long enough to get his attention.
This guy just referred to a local writer thusly: "What a piece of [expletive] he is, [expletive] fag."
Any questions? This has nothing to do with Guillen's feud with Mariotti, and everything to do with Guillen's rapidly shrinking view of the world around him.
Suspend him in order to preserve him. It's your move, White Sox.
This is Chicago's guy, after all. He's the one the Sox want. They backed him up even through that ridiculous exercise last week, in which Guillen clearly went off on Sean Tracey after the rookie failed to drill Hank Blalock with a retaliatory beanball. When Tracey was subsequently shipped back to the minors, the Sox went along with the story that the move was to make room for David Riske, who'd just been acquired in a trade.
(In one of those delicious story twists, both Riske and Guillen got booted from Tuesday night's rout of the Cardinals after Riske plunked Chris Duncan in retaliation for Sidney Ponson's two hit batters. Hey, at least Ozzie got his man in Riske.)
This is the White Sox's story to handle. It's the Sox being embarrassed first, Major League Baseball second. And, no disrespect, does anyone really expect MLB to step in and take an exact measure that actually improves things? Handle it, Chicago, before someone else (cough, cough -- Selig -- cough, cough) tries to.
It's easy to see how Guillen could have been given this much rope. The man just led a team to the World Series and won it. He had the White Sox at 20 games over .500 after Tuesday night's 20-6 drubbing of the Cards. They love a winner in every baseball town in North America, and there is an awful lot of latitude that accompanies that attitude.
But, look, the track record lately ain't so hot. There is Guillen in February, telling Sports Illustrated that Alex Rodriguez is nothing but a "hypocrite" for even insinuating he might play for the Dominican team in the World Baseball Classic and adding, "It's the same with [Nomar] Garciaparra playing for Mexico. Garciaparra only knows Cancun because he went to visit."
There is Guillen this spring, commenting on a situation by noting, "In Venezuela, we don't care. We take care of [stuff] by hitting people." There is Guillen last year in New York, equating a homosexual with a child molester and igniting a brief firestorm, emphasis on brief. Good thing Ozzie's team was running in first place, or it could have been an actual, you know issue.
We could fill the rest of this column with stuff Guillen has said over just the past year; the man is a veritable font of incendiary invective. He loves to talk. For a while, there, people seemed to be very happy -- or entertained enough -- to listen.
But it is probably worth remembering, at some point, that Guillen is part of a larger show in which people play by slightly more restrictive rules. Put it another way: Ozzie might just talk himself out of baseball and into Marge Schott/John Rocker territory. And as much as that might satisfy some of the aggrieved parties just now, it doesn't have to happen.
Go get him, Chicago. Drag him out of the dugout if you have to. Call it an intervention if it makes you feel better. But get it done.
Mark Kreidler of the Sacramento Bee is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.