Ozzie Guillen is out as the manager of the Chicago White Sox. How do we feel, Chicago? Sure, he has underachieved since the World Series in '05, but there was a World Series in '05. Sure, he annoyed us with his 'woe is me' act, but his act was the best in baseball. Sure, he said too much. But hell, it was never too much.
Ozzie Guillen spent enough time in Chicago as a player, coach and local celebrity to be placed in a very elite class. Ditka, Royko, Oprah, Daley, Harold, Ernie, Rhino, Walter, Billy Corgan, Ozzie Guillen. Not to mention that we might be the most famous Latino in Chicago history.
But will he stay that way? Or will he move on and be a footnote in Chicago history? Something says Ozzie won't keep roots in the area. Something tells me he has been longing to go to Miami for years. But will Chicagoans remember him? Will we have Ozzie statues at the Cell and Ozzie honorary street signs?
Or will it take one Cubs World Series run for collective Chicago to forget him?
I really enjoyed Ozzie Guillen's time in Chicago. I have a soft spot for the manager with the big mouth. Why? It's because baseball can be a lot like politics. And nobody likes that. It seems like baseball and most professional sports go out of their way to limit information and spin everything to the media masses. It's not about who you are, but what you say and how you look. The media is not your friend. You play this game in spite of the media.
But then there's Ozzie. He seemed to embrace his role as the spokesperson and court jester of the South Side squad. He may or may not have liked the media, but he seemed to know that the media was the best way for him to continually entertain his team's fans. Whether it was a well-timed rant or a strange tirade, Ozzie made headlines like a baker makes bread. It was second nature.
During the waning days of old Comiskey, I went to a game and was fortunate to catch a foul ball. It was from the bat of Ozzie Guillen, who attempted a bunt and popped it up behind first base. It hit my friend's dad in the arm (because he had two beers in his hands) and ricocheted into my hands. I'm sure my friend's Dad was mad, but he couldn't take the ball from a 12 year old. So the only foul ball I ever caught was from Ozzie Guillen.
And don't forget Ozzie's penchant for local show biz. Ozzie's radio spots and famed Crosstown Classic Subway commercials were downright hilarious. They were hilarious because of his delivery, mostly. He was a classic showman who took acting seriously. In other words, he tried so hard:
Here are some other great moments in Ozzie Guillen history (from a simple search of YouTube):
Ozzie was a ham. He loved to be on camera or to be the center of attention. In this first famous clip, Ozzie plays a crucial role in coming to the aid of his catcher, AJ Pierzynski. AJ was doing wrestling in the offseason and then taped a quick bit at spring training with a wrestler/announcer. Yep, you guessed it: Ozzie actually hits someone with a chair.
With Ozzie's departure, we lose a time honored tradition of having our coaches and local sports celebrities hawking cars. Lovie does it a bit, but for the most part you aren't seeing Tom Thibideaux or Mike Quade telling you about low APR financing. That's becoming a relic of local Chicago. But Ozzie had some of the best commercials in the history of local cars. I am looking for the Chevrolet radio spots, but this was might take the cake. It's an awesome "South Side/North Side" Dodge rap commercial. Could someone please write a sitcom for Pinella and Guillen?
And of course, here's one for Chevy:
And how bout a classic expletive-laden rant: This was expected from Ozzie about nine times a year. In this clip, he just doesn't seem to care that the cameras are rolling. Vintage Ozzie:
Ozzie had a great little act going with umpire Joe West. West didn't like Ozzie's antics and routinely threw him out of games. After one ejection, Ozzie goes off in the locker room and throws out the famous quote: 'Nobody comes to the park to watch Joe West umpire...'
Ozzie never pulled punches when it came to commenting on news or celebrity. He seemed to thrive off giving his opinion, most notably about his home country of Venezuela. He made headlines by going after actor Sean Penn, who was on a pro-Venezuelan press blitz at the time. Ozzie took umbrage.
As I watched these clips, I realized just how important Ozzie Guillen has been to the White Sox and the city of Chicago. Not just as a manager, but a South Side super hero. It's a sad day in Chicago. But hopefully, he will chart a course that will keep him in Chicago's hearts forever.