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posted: 4/9/2012 8:01 PM

Chicago shares blame for Guillen situation

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  • Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen talks with the media before the Philiadelphia Phillies home opener baseball game, Monday, April 9, 2012, in Philadelphia.

      Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen talks with the media before the Philiadelphia Phillies home opener baseball game, Monday, April 9, 2012, in Philadelphia.
    Associated Press

 
 

We up here are as responsible as Ozzie Guillen is for the controversy he created in South Florida.

People in Chicago let Ozzie be Ozzie for too long.

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Guillen never realized enough how blessed he was to be embraced, protected and defended the way he was here. If he had, he would have compromised and still been White Sox manager.

People here, Sox fans and others, considered Guillen one of their very own and let him get away with feeling he was on the right side of any line.

Guillen was our mischievous little child, the one who keeps putting his hand in the cookie jar and experiencing only a hand slap as punishment.

Ozzie made a homophobic remark here? Ozzie launched F-bombs in front of people who didn't want to hear them? Ozzie defied authority, logic and social decorum?

Oh, that's just Ozzie being Ozzie.

During Guillen's eight seasons as White Sox manager, he was empowered to be a crass cartoon character.

Sox fans empowered him, even before Guillen managed the Sox to a World Series title. The media did, mostly because Guillen was such refreshing copy. Jerry Reinsdorf did, maybe because Guillen was his late-life walk on the wild side.

I can't tell you how many times I wanted to tell Ozzie Guillen how wrong he was, that he should clean up his act, that as the face of the franchise he made Sox management, the city and himself look trashy.

But I never did. I went along, as Reinsdorf did, as too many Sox fans did, as too many in the media did, as Kenny Williams grudgingly did.

Guillen has made a mess of his debut as Miami Marlins manager, insulting Cuban Americans by saying to Time magazine, "I love Fidel Castro."

Thank goodness we didn't have to apologize for Guillen had he blurted, while he was manager of the White Sox, something like, he loves Hitler or Osama bin Laden is a martyr.

The Marlins currently are on the road, but Guillen is expected to return to Miami on Tuesday to issue an in-person apology for his insensitivity. Maybe that's an indication he gets the difference between here and there, because I don't recall him ever apologizing for anything while in Chicago.

Orlando Sentinel columnist George Diaz was born in Cuba and wrote over the weekend, "I don't know if (an apology) will be enough. It won't be enough because people like me will never forget the courage it took for my parents to leave all of their possessions behind and catch a flight out of Cuba with their three children in 1961."

The thing Guillen didn't understand was that Ozzie couldn't be Ozzie in Miami the way he was in Chicago, not any more than, say, Mike Ditka could be Iron Mike in New Orleans.

Guillen didn't grow up as a sports figure down there like he did up here, so the act won't play nearly as well and the jokes won't be nearly as funny.

Down there now the call is for the Marlins to fire Guillen, and he doesn't have supporters like he nearly always had here.

In the Miami Herald over the weekend, a Marlins source expressed hope that Guillen's latest indiscretion was isolated.

"What if it isn't?" he was asked.

"May God have mercy on us," he said.

On some of us up here, too, for allowing Ozzie to be Ozzie all those years.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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