Let’s hope Ozzie’s exit from White Sox changes Ken Williams
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 27, 2011 11:48PM
Ozzie Guillen, pictured wearing a 1917 uniform in his playing days in 1990, was a source of old-fashioned honesty that some didn’t want to hear. | File
Updated: November 11, 2011 4:31PM
MIAMI — With a quick thump of his fist on his chest, Ozzie Guillen stood up to leave the White Sox’ media room one last time Monday night.
“I’m Chicago tough,’’ he said, looking more boxer-in-training than baseball man because of a towel draped over his shoulder.
Just like that, it was over.
Some more goodbyes in the manager’s office he occupied for eight seasons, his family and friends crowding around his desk.
One more cold one on The Chairman.
The end of an era for arguably the most successful skipper in Sox history.
‘‘Maybe I’m too honest,’’ he said privately as reporters and players were clearing out. ‘‘I told them from Day 1 that’s who I am. I won’t apologize for that. I never will.’’
By Tuesday morning, Chicago’s loss was Florida’s gain.
Guillen loaded up his family and talents and took them to South Beach, courtesy of the private jet of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. All the while, he didn’t apologize for a damn thing.
‘‘Some people change,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘I can’t.’’
Being Ozzie Guillen is a full-time job. It’s tiresome, it’s draining, and unfortunately, it rubs people the wrong way eventually. Pure, uncensored honesty often does.
Million-dollar athletes don’t want to hear ‘‘we stink’’ when they do. An ego-driven general manager doesn’t want to hear that his opinions about a player are wrong when they are. Fans don’t want to hear that they need to ‘‘turn off their TVs and stop watching the game if they don’t like the [bleep]ing lineup.’’
Guillen’s volume is often on 10, and it’s not for everyone.
So what changed about Guillen over eight years that saw him go from the golden boy of baseball and World Series winner to a manager many felt had worn out his welcome?
Nothing. The change came from almost everyone and everything around him.
It’s a dead horse at this point — and certain members of the Sox public-relations department, along with general manager Ken Williams, have focused way too much energy trying to cover it up since the Sun-Times began documenting a powderkeg waiting to explode the last two seasons — but the deteriorating relationship between Guillen and Williams played a huge factor in why the Marlins and Sox are expected to announce the trading of a manager this afternoon.
The GM that Guillen knew when he took the job was not the same man he left behind on Tuesday. For whatever reason — jealousy, ego, whatever — Williams no longer had the best interest of the Sox and winning in mind. Whether it was wanting to be a restaurant owner, wanting to live a ‘‘Hollywood’’ lifestyle or simply ignoring roster moves that had to be made and weren’t, Williams played the part of GM but didn’t act the part like he used to.
Maybe that will change now that the Guillen eclipse is off of Williams. Maybe Williams will go back to being the GM who swung from the heels with moves that were actually well-thought-out, not just going through the motions.
Adding volatile Carl Everett back in the day was genius, bordering on madness. Looking at all the homer runs on Adam Dunn’s baseball card, rather than doing some homework on a guy who never had to play with expectations, is career suicide.
But now there will be no more scapegoats for Williams. The bull’s-eye is solely on him. Maybe that’s what he needs to excel again. Maybe he will wilt. Time will tell.
As for Guillen, the Marlins know exactly what they are getting — a lightning rod of attention for a franchise that’s starving for a reason to care. What you see on Day 1 is what you get. Get ready, South Beach. The storm is coming.
And ‘‘Miami tough’’ has a certain ring to it.