Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Time for Ozzie to go - finally

It was six years ago today that Ozzie Guillen gave me one of the best stories of my journalism career -- telling me that if the White Sox beat the odds to win the World Series, he might celebrate by quitting. The stress was too much, he said, and he was sick of being unappreciated by the fans.

He didn't need the job. He could walk away anytime. "I'll make more money signing autographs," he said, "instead of dealing with this shit."

The next day, when the shit was hitting the fan because of his comments, he could have claimed he was misquoted or his words were taken out of context. That's the course of action of many public figures, cowards all. Ozzie didn't do that. He told waves of reporters that he said what he said and he meant every word. I'll always be thankful for that.

Well, as everybody knows, the Sox went on to give Chicago its first baseball championship since women earned the right to vote. And, as everybody knows, Ozzie stayed. I'm glad, because he's one of the most fun, colorful, interesting sports people I've known. Chicago baseball has been better because he's been a part of it.

In the years since our interview, Ozzie often has resurrected variations of that rant: When he gets fired, so be it; he doesn't really need the job and the hassles that go with it.

You know what? The time has come for him to leave the hassles behind.

Change is good. Eight years as a manager for one team is a long time, especially for a bombastic guy with absolutely no filter between brain and mouth.

Ozzie has one year left on his contract and wants assurances from Jerry Reinsdorf that he will be allowed to stay in Chicago beyond that.

If I'm Reinsdorf, I say no dice. Two division titles in eight years -- and two losing seasons the last three years -- hardly gives a manager leverage to dictate terms. Especially when that manager has spent this season overseeing a disgusting display of ineptitude by a team expected to contend.

I wouldn't think this would be a tough call for Reinsdorf, who coldly and unnecessarily imploded his Bulls dynasty after the second threepeat.

Ozzie Guillen has accomplished a lot and has stayed true to himself in doing so. He even has outlasted -- by several years -- columnist-turned-criminal Jay Mariotti.

It's not as if he would stay unemployed for long. The Marlins supposedly want him, and he loves Miami. (The Cubs could do a lot worse, too, but Ozzie probably needs the fresh start of another city.)

OK, so he wouldn't be going out on top, wouldn't be quitting just after a World Series triumph, but he'd be leaving a pretty nice legacy behind.

And if you don't think one championship is much of a legacy, you don't know anything about Chicago baseball.

1 comment:

  1. Great comments Mike. I know for one, I am "Ozzied" out and I think his players are too. Just tired of the rants, the raves and the I don't care pronouncements. Time for Ozzie to move along. I appreciate his talent as a manager, and what he did for Chicao baseball in winning a World Series. But as you wrote, time to move along.