Joe Cowley: Ozzie’s back and you know you miss him
BY JOE COWLEY Sun-Times Media July 15, 2012 10:30PM
Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen gestures during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Miami, Friday, July 13, 2012. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Updated: July 15, 2012 10:52PM
Just admit it: You miss Ozzie Guillen.
Oh, sure, you’ve fooled yourself into believing life is better for the White Sox without all the noise. You’ve convinced yourself the newfound tranquility on the South Side is just what everyone needed. In your eyes, Guillen in any other zip code is a good thing.
Then again, denial is the first stage of grief.
Guillen will be at Wrigley Field on Tuesday for the first time as the manager of the Miami Marlins. And before he takes one step onto the dirt of the Friendly Confines, he knows what awaits his homecoming.
Most columnists already have their stories written about how the Sox are so much better without Guillen. Radio talk-show hosts have their “Ozzie moratorium” in place. It has been broken 12 times since June, but they mean it this time.
Guillen knows what to expect, and he has been keeping score.
“Good, make that excuse because the manager (Robin Ventura) is my friend,” Guillen said in a phone interview. “I want that ballclub to succeed; I have friends on the White Sox. People want to run around and say the coaching staff is better now. Well, check the numbers. Check the numbers for what I did for that city.
“And good or bad, they won’t stop talking about me. Every time they walk into U.S. Cellular Field, the first thing they see is me holding the World Series trophy.”
It’s an image far too many would like to erase. But what can’t be erased are Guillen’s 678 victories with the Sox, the fact he was the only manager to guide them to more than one playoff appearance and, of course, that World Series trophy.
Plus, Guillen’s influence is all over the first-place Sox this season. It was Guillen who wanted Alexei Ramirez to play shortstop when the Sox’ brass was thinking of him as a center fielder. It was Guillen who thought Dayan Viciedo should be an outfielder, while others were cramming him into corner-infield spots. It was Guillen who saved second baseman Gordon Beckham from being busted down to Class AAA Charlotte multiple times. And the list goes on.
Guillen’s fingerprints are all over this Sox team, like it or not.
“I was in Chicago last week for the All-Star break, and I heard the (bleep) that people are talking,” Guillen said. “I hear the backstabbing comments. I said when I took the job with Miami that if (the Sox) played like they were capable of, Robin will be manager of the year. They didn’t play well for me, and I take that blame.
“But the media is all of a sudden angry with me? I answered every question I was ever asked. They don’t have the balls to say (bleep)when I was there. Tell the people in Chicago to look up and see who I blamed when we lost. I’m not a chicken (bleep), like the media there.”
He’s not backing down from where his Marlins are in the National League East standings, either. They are 42-46 and trail the Washington Nationals by 10 games.
“We’re not playing good baseball, and that’s on me,” Guillen said.
Guillen would like to promise a turnaround for the Marlins, but he can’t. What he can promise is that certain media members — the ones who once smiled to his face but since have stabbed him in the back — shouldn’t bother talking to him Tuesday.
“Write your (bleep),” Guillen said. “I remember the cheap shots and the names. I see people around me (Tuesday), it will be a pretty quick conversation.”
What can’t be overlooked about Tuesday, with the Sox playing in Boston and the Cubs about to be broken up for prospects, is that Guillen will be the epicenter of Chicago sports.
Now that’s staying power.
“See everyone Tuesday,” Guillen said. “I’m not hiding. Like I’ve said, I’m the real Chicago tough.”
So you don’t miss him? If you reached this point of the column, you really do.