It is worth revisiting, because, as Bob Boone, a special assistant to the general manager for the Washington Nationals, said, "If he doesn't do that, we don't have him."
It is best left behind, because, as Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said, "I wasn't there."
It is worth revisiting, because, as Jose Guillen said: "So many people in baseball lie. I tell the truth."
The truth is this: Tonight, the first-place Nationals, having wrapped up their wildly successful 13-game homestand, will board a plane bound for Anaheim, Calif., and Guillen will once again be confronted with old demons, because Anaheim is where he played last year, Anaheim is where he tossed his batting helmet in the direction of Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, Anaheim is where his career, which was finally propped back up, crumbled again.
"It was stupid," Boone said, and considering the view from RFK Stadium, it certainly seems that way. The Nationals are in first place in part because of what Guillen has brought with his bat, hitting .290 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI entering last night's game. But the Nationals also are in first place because of what Guillen has brought -- and those wearing Angels uniforms might scoff at the very notion -- with his head.
"I do know one thing that I've found out, and it took me a little while," Robinson said. "This kid is very serious -- very serious -- about his baseball. He takes it seriously. He is concerned about his teammates and the way they go about preparing themselves and playing the game, and he worries about this team and us winning ballgames that we should win.
"Some of them that we're not winning, it bothers him. It bothers him when we don't play well -- very much so."
That Guillen brings that attitude is surprising because he has so frequently been criticized, during his itinerant career, for putting himself before his team. Returning to Anaheim to face the Angels -- the team that suspended him in the heat of a September pennant race even though he was one of its most productive hitters, then traded him to Washington in November -- serves as a reminder that, regardless of how well things are going now, they weren't always so.
Guillen's recounting of the past comes, time and again, to instances where he was told one thing and the club he was with did another. In Tampa, he said, club officials told him to remain in Florida over the winter to work out because he would be the starting right fielder the following year. Instead, he was sent to the minors, and he didn't handle it well. In Cincinnati, he expected to be in the lineup one day, was removed before the game by Boone, who was the Reds manager at the time, and tore up the clubhouse. In Anaheim, he was removed from a game for a pinch runner because he had a slightly pulled muscle in his leg, but got into a shouting match with Scioscia in the clubhouse.
"If you're a manager and you call me into the office, and we talk in the office with closed door, it's a different story," Guillen said. "That's why I don't like it when people say I went after Mike. Mike called me and approached me in front of all my teammates [after the helmet-tossing incident] right at my locker. He said I was not saying things I'm supposed to be saying. We were screaming face-to-face.
"As the manager, I believe, you come to me, you ask me to talk in the office, we talk."
So it is that Guillen frequently appears at Robinson's door, sticking his head into the tiny space underneath RFK's stands that Robinson uses as an office. When spring training started, Robinson knew he had a potentially combustible force on his hands, but he pledged not to judge Guillen. Rather, he wanted to sit back, to figure him out. He has discovered that Guillen craves communication. Robinson isn't one to talk too much to many of his players. He feels Guillen, though, needs to be heard in order to be happy.
"Mostly, I listen," Robinson said. "I listen to him talk about situations. I listen to him talk about events. It's usually baseball. He doesn't kid around a lot. When he comes to talk to me, I know he's serious, or he's upset about something. So I listen to him. I don't reason with him. I listen to him."
Which, in turn, has brought two commodities that can be hard for Guillen to give up: trust and respect.
"Frank always has been telling me the truth," Guillen said. "He always communicates well with me. You know what? I don't like to take a day off. But if Frank told me right now to take a day off, I'd laugh. I'd say: 'Okay, Frank. Whatever you want.' Because he showed me that he cares about his players.
"I know a lot of players don't like Frank. I love Frank."
From Boone's experience, Robinson's approach with Guillen makes sense. In Cincinnati, Boone said: "I loved him. When he played, he was great. He played as hard as you could play. And when he didn't play, he wanted to have me killed."
The most infamous incident came when Guillen -- who was battling for playing time but emerging as a run-producer in 2003 -- was supposed to be in the lineup to give star Ken Griffey Jr. the day off. But when he got to the ballpark, the lineup had been changed.
"I was like, 'What the hell's going on here?' " Guillen said. "Bob Boone told me, 'Somebody from upstairs told me they wanted the same lineup as last night.' "
Asked if that was true, Boone said, "I don't want to get into it." Whatever the circumstance, Guillen raged.
"I get treated like a fifth outfielder, and I'm leading the team in every category?" Guillen said. "This is the way I'm getting treated?
"I got mad at that moment. I got the bat, and I was coming from the batting cage, and I just throw the bat through the wall."
It is only June. The Nationals have 100 games remaining. But the only outbursts have been quite manageable. Against Oakland last week, Guillen was hit by a pitch, and Robinson and Guillen got into an animated conversation on the field, arguing whether Guillen would remain in the game. (He did.) On June 2, when the Nationals squandered an eighth-inning lead against Atlanta, Guillen returned to the dugout screaming about how they needed to get the runs back -- and more. So they did, scoring five runs to beat the Braves.
"The guy is intense, and he fires us up," infielder Jamey Carroll said. "I don't think anyone in here has a problem with him. He plays hard."
And, it should be noted, he plays every day. Several of the problems in the past have resulted from times he has spent on the bench.
"That was part of my problems through the years, because I used to get so mad," Guillen said. "And that's when they'd say, 'Oh, he has an attitude,' because I always believe in myself, and I would say, 'Why you don't give me a chance?' "
He has the chance now. His production has lagged recently; prior to last night's game, he was hitting just .194 in June, and the two RBI he collected Friday night matched his output for the previous 13 games. But swoons such as that don't determine his future. If he goes 0 for 4, he will return to the lineup, ready to go again.
Tomorrow, he will be in the lineup in Anaheim. No doubt, he will be asked about his emotions about returning. "It's in the past," he said last week. "It's fine."
Peering out from his locker, pushed back into a corner of the clubhouse, Guillen smiled broadly. There is still plenty of time remaining in the season for the fuse to ignite. He doesn't believe it will.
"I'm a totally different person," Guillen said, "and my situation is totally different."