Ozzie Guillen has claimed the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti (above) is “a coward” for refusing to turn up in the White Sox clubhouse. Jay has replied that a) he’s too busy covering major sporting events and b) he won’t personally meet with a guy he considers to be “out of control” , along with referencing prior run-ins at the Cell that he claims the White Sox have turned a blind eye to.

The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Morrisey would like to see Mariotti “face the music”. And he’s not talking about a Madonna concert. (link courtesy Tim Midgett)

Let’s say I criticize Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski for something he did in a game. And let’s say I do it in the Sunday Tribune, which has a circulation of about 960,000.

Isn’t it reasonable for Pierzynski to have an opportunity to lash out at me in front of media and teammates in the clubhouse if I’ve treated him similarly in print? It seems pretty straightforward to me. It’s what I was taught to do. It’s what nearly all of the columnists in the country do. The honorable thing.

Look, it’s not always fun walking into a locker room. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. But it comes with the territory of being a columnist.

Showing up also makes for a better columnist. Anybody can have an opinion. That’s the beauty of being a walking, talking human being. But asking questions of players, managers and coaches helps give a columnist an informed opinion. It doesn’t mean you’re being co-opted by the people you’re dealing with, not if you have an ounce of integrity. It means you’re being thorough and professional. And you just might learn a thing or two.

One of the best and worst things that has happened to our society is the blog”best because everyone can have his say, not just us so-called experts; worst because everyone can say anything with almost no accountability.

I’ll give Mariotti this: Whether he realizes it or not, he might have been the nation’s first blogger, without actually writing one.

He has led the way by not leading the way to the locker room or the clubhouse. He writes what he wants without ever talking to a soul.

The only difference is he travels often to events, unlike bloggers, many of whom sit in their underwear all day and update, update, update.

But it’s not the way most columnists do their jobs. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Guillen spent part of Thursday night ripping Mariotti again.

I should know.

I was in the Sox’s dugout, before the game. It was another day at the office for a lot of us.