"I did not bite anyone in this fight"
CHICAGO -- Remember the children's game known as Telephone, where one kid tells his friend a sentence and then watches to see how the context changes by the time it gets to the end of the line with his or her buddies?
White Sox third-base coach Joey Cora can relate. Prior to Monday's series opener with the A's, a rumor took root concerning Cora having bit Cubs right fielder Jacque Jones during Saturday's bench-clearing brawl. By the time said rumor reached Ozzie Guillen's pregame session with the media, the White Sox manager also had heard it included a criticism of his three sons being involved in the fight.
All of this chatter stemmed from a Monday morning appearance made by Cubs closer Ryan Dempster on 670-AM The Score's morning show, hosted by Mike North, one of Chicago's top radio personalities. But the truth actually had a little less bite than the fiction making its way around the ballpark.
North asked Dempster about "hearing that Joey Cora might have bit someone," suggesting that someone was John Mabry. Dempster provided the following direct criticism, a critique without any mention of Cora's choppers.
"I thought that was one of the most bush things I've ever seen," said Dempster of Cora's actions during the fight. "You are on the other side of the white lines and can't play anymore, so don't come swinging fists and sitting there.
"Just break the fight up. Don't act like you are a player anymore, because you are not. If you are going to do that, you are going to end up getting yourself hurt one day."
Dempster added that first-base coach Harold Baines had to pull Cora out of the fight and remind him they were coaches and had to act that way. Cora declined direct comment, but did issue a rather comical statement through a White Sox spokesman.
"I did not bite anyone in this fight," Cora said.
When Cora was a player for San Diego, he bit the arm of a player who was choking out his pitcher during a fight to get him to release his arm. One school of thought is that particular story, mentioned on Saturday's FOX broadcast, was confused with Saturday's fight.
Whatever the explanation, Guillen took a shot at Dempster for his comments. He also had fun with the pregame talk, especially the usually-quiet Baines' lecture of Cora.
Dempster actually called Guillen after hearing of his reported comments, denying all of what had been floating around. Dempster also told reporters in Florida, where the Cubs were playing, that he would no longer be a regular guest on North's show after this week following this round of misinformation.
Guillen, in turn, apologized for criticizing his friend following Monday's 5-4 victory over the A's.
"I want to apologize to him for what I say," Guillen said. "I've known Ryan for a long time and he's one of my favorite guys. We hang around together in a lot of places. He knows my kids real well, that's why it surprised me.
"It takes a big man to call me and clear the air. It was my mistake that the information wasn't what I thought."
Meanwhile, general manager Ken Williams had no problem with the overall behavior of his staff.
"I saw them get out there to conduct themselves as peacemakers," Williams said. "If something was said that was over the top or done that was over the top, sometimes you take the good with the bad. I'll take these guys on a daily basis with their attitude on how to keep a team together and cohesively try to win games."