The Ozzie Guillen era is over in Chicago but appears to be starting over in Miami.
Earlier today, the Chicago White Sox formally released Guillen from his contract after eight seasons at the helm of the Chisox and managed his final game with the club last night. He could be named the next manager of the Florida Marlins (or should I say Miami Marlins) as early as tomorrow. Jack McKeon, who took over managerial duties with the Marlins after the abrupt resignation of Edwin Rodriguez in June, indicated yesterday he would not be back with the team next season. Guillen is not a stranger to the Marlins. He was the third base coach under McKeon when they won the 2003 World Series and would be hired by the White Sox the following season.
In 2005, Guillen guided the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years sweeping the Houston Astros in four games. That season I had a chance to see the White Sox in action both here in Boston and in Toronto. Prior to one of the games in Toronto, I saw a most remarkable thing from Guillen – he threw batting practice. I had never seen a manager throw batting practice. That’s the sort of duty usually left to a member of the coaching staff. But if a manager throws batting practice he has a chance to see how his hitters are swinging in a way he wouldn’t if he was watching from the dugout. But even more remarkably once batting practice was over, Guillen picked up all the baseballs off the field. Again, that’s something usually the bat boy might do. But the fact that Guillen was doing it made the point that no task is too small in the pursuit of victory.
The White Sox would only reach the post-season one other time under Guillen and that was in 2008 when they bested the Minnesota Twins in a one game playoff to win the AL Central. But they were quickly swept in the ALDS by the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.
Guillen’s greatest asset is also his greatest liability. He is not shy about giving his opinion nor does he sugarcoat things. He’s honest but in being that honest one can rub some people the wrong way. It’s a trait that is also more difficult to tolerate when the team is mediocre as the Chisox were in 2011.
But Guillen certainly made a sports reporter’s job easy. He made good copy. Guillen would talk about anything and would occasionally talk politics. It is hard to pigeonhole him. One on hand, Guillen threatened to boycott the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix because of the Arizona immigration law. Well, he needn’t have worried because Ron Washington didn’t name him to his coaching staff. On the other hand, Guillen did refer to Sean Penn as a “izquierdista estupido” for his defense of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. BTW, izquierdista estupido translated into English means “stupid leftist.”
The truth is Guillen needs a change of scenery and the White Sox need a slightly more laid back manager. The Marlins open their new ballpark next season and they need someone who can attract people there night after night. The Marlins are also a young team that has underachieved. It will be interesting to see how the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison respond to Ozzie in 2012. I wonder also if Ozzie might not bring one or two Chisox along with him like, say, Mark Buehrle and/or A.J. Pierzynski. The South Side meets South Beach.