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For Ozzie Guillen, ‘Moneyball’ meant play the highest-paid guys

Updated: December 2, 2011 2:11PM



Ozzie Guillen has always been a “moneyball” guy.

Not in the Billy Beane definition of the term that says you can find bargain-rate players who can get on base or get you outs in middle relief. More like: Whoever makes the most money has to play.

How many times this season did we hear Guillen say he had to keep playing the under-achieving Alex Rios and, of course, Adam Dunn, who was having arguably the worst season by a hitter ever, because they were making so much money?

“All I can do is play” Dunn, Guillen said well after the All-Star break, when Dunn was hitting an astonishingly anemic .159, with just nine homers and 36 RBIs.

“Bench him? Every time I bench that man, it’s a lot of money.”

Yes — and so what? If a highly paid quarterback were playing as poorly as Dunn, the head coach would be fired if he DIDN’T bench the QB.

The fans who turn out for games — or, in the case of the 2011 White Sox, stopped turning out for the games — they’re the ones whose bank balances count the most. They’re the ones who spend in excess of $100 each time out for tickets, transportation, parking passes, food and drinks and souvenirs for the family. They’re the ones Ozzie sometimes forgot about.

As the Sun-Times’ Rick Morrissey reports, Guillen was obsessing about money again last Friday, noting that he can’t buy anything of real worth with his championship rings — but if the Florida Marlins were to double the reported $2 million Guillen was set to make with the Sox in 2012? Now, you’re talking.

“I can go buy me a new boat, I can go buy me a new car, I can dress my wife the way I want to dress her, I can go to Spain . . . With the ring, [can I] go to United Airlines and say, ‘Hello, I won the 2005 championship. Can you fly me to Spain?’ Hell no.”

It’s as if Guillen hadn’t already made millions playing, coaching and managing the game. But, like so many sports figures who grew up with little and then made a fortune, money is always at the forefront.

But when Guillen said, “I work in this job for money . . . [Bleep] the ring. I don’t even wear my [bleeping] rings,” it was, what, the 200th tone-deaf comment he’s made?

Those I-don’t-give-a-bleep comments never flew in a sports-crazed town such as Chicago. And that’s why for every Sox fan who bemoaned Ozzie’s departure and saluted that 2005 World Series flag and Ozzie’s role in the championship, there were probably a half-dozen who thanked Guillen for his services and thought: don’t let the door hit you on the [bleep] on the way out.

Ozzie being Ozzie

The things I saw Ozzie Guillen do.

† When Guillen was a light-hitting, good-glove young shortstop with a scripted “C” on his hat and helmet, I saw him swing at pitches a foot outside the strike zone. I saw him occasionally slap the clutch hit to the opposite field. I saw him make some remarkable plays at short.

† Literally minutes before Game 1 of the 2005 World Series, I saw Guillen shaking hands with then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, laughing it up with the umpires and fans and players, as loose as a manager could ever be on the eve of maybe the biggest baseball game in Chicago in a half-century. You would have thought it was spring training.

† I saw Ozzie screaming at umps from the dugout, protecting his players. I saw Ozzie making managerial moves that had 11-year-olds wondering what he was thinking.

† I saw a man, he danced with his wife — and that man was Ozzie Guillen at a fund-raiser for his charity, which raises money for families and children in crisis. On a late summer night in 2010, nearly every member of the Sox showed up for the event.

† I saw and heard him make so many truly hilarious observations — and say so many utterly stupid things.

He was a players’ manager — when he wasn’t throwing a player under the bus, to use one of Guillen’s favorite terms.

He was a fans’ manager — when he wasn’t saying some Sox fans don’t care about you the minute you leave the ballpark and will urinate on the monuments outside the Cell.

He was in it for the money — except for all those times you could see the passion written all over his face, whether he was arguing with an ump, throwing a fit after a loss or talking about how much he loved baseball.

He was one of a kind, and he will be missed.

But it was time for him to go.



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