Baseball more interesting with Guillen in it
It was 1995 and I was still a pup on the White Sox beat. With no Internet and limited sports talk radio, it was quite a different game. In retrospect, I'm actually missing the good old days.
Anyway, beat writers could be as critical as they wanted, but they also had to show up in the clubhouse the next day.
After the Sox went 1-7 on a road trip to Texas, Oakland and Anaheim, Calif., while dropping to 16-29, I went up and down the roster and accused just about every player of not coming back ready to play following the crippling strike of 1994.
When we got back to Comiskey Park, the column was hanging on a clubhouse wall, and I caught serious heat from Frank Thomas, Alex Fernandez, Carlos Lee, Lance Johnson, Scott Radinsky and just about every other White Sox player.
But one of them waved me over to his locker. "Everything you wrote is true," the player said. "Bleep them if they can't handle the truth."
That was Ozzie Guillen, the Sox' shortstop at the time.
I didn't make a habit of trashing the players I had to deal with day in and day out, at home and on the road. But I always remembered what Ozzie said whenever it was time to be critical, and it re-emphasized the importance of making sure you were being fair and accurate.
With that being said, I feel bad for Ozzie, who was fired Tuesday after only one year with the Miami Marlins.
Actually, I don't feel sorry for Ozzie, per se. I feel sorry for baseball because the game is better when Ozzie is a part of it.
"Better things will come or (worse) things, but they will come," Ozzie said on Twitter late Tuesday night. "Thanks a lot for the support in this difficult time but not the worst."
In nearly two decades covering the White Sox, I'd say 75 percent of the people interested in my job or the Sox wanted to hear Ozzie stories. They asked because Ozzie is interesting.
Call him a verbal AK-47, self-absorbed, greedy, goofy, all of the above, but Ozzie is always honest. Unfortunately, his lack of a filter forced him out as White Sox manager in 2011 and out of Miami this season.
Despite having a four-year contract with the Marlins, Ozzie almost didn't make it out of April in the wake of his comments about Fidel Castro.
Once the controversy cooled, so did the Marlins. And considering they bumped the payroll up almost $50 million and wanted to make a splash in a new stadium, the 69-93 record fell far short of expectations.
Since he's still owed $7.5 million over the next three years, I thought Ozzie would get another season to turn things around.
But it really unraveled in late September, and Ozzie's fate likely was sealed when he was asked about his future and responded with his "honest" assessment of Miami owner Jeffrey Loria.
"If Jeffrey doesn't think I'm doing the job I should do … it's not the first time he's fired a manager," Guillen said. "Look yourself in the mirror and ask why so many (bleeping) managers come through here."
Look for Ozzie to pop up on FOX, WTBS or some other TV outlet not named ESPN, whom he sparred with on Twitter throughout his lone season in Miami.
It won't be the same as being in uniform, but at least he still will be in the game. And baseball will be more interesting.
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