By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Ozzie Guillen isn’t just back in Chicago this week.
It appears that the former White Sox manager is also back.
Back to being controversial. Back to being outlandish. Back to, well, being himself.
And, for that, Ozzie can thank the Chicago Cubs.
(Although, I wouldn’t exactly count on him doing that.)
Ever since April when Guillen blew fuses across South Florida with his “I love Fidel Castro” comment, the Miami Sound Machine has been uncharacteristically silent. He apologized for offending people across the map. He deactivated his ridiculous Twitter account. And he (for the most part) kept his more outrageous thoughts to himself.
But none of us believed that would last.
This is Ozzie Guillen, after all.
And wouldn’t you know it, but after three months of relative silence, all it took was an impending series against the Cubs to transform Ozzie back into the Mouth of South Beach.
Last Thursday, before the Marlins opened a four-game series against Nationals, Guillen’s mind wasn’t even on Washington – it was on the Cubs. To start the season’s second half, Guillen informed the media that former Cubs lightning rod Carlos Zambrano would be starting Monday’s game in Miami instead of Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
“That means the Cubs fans … they got (bleeped),” Guillen said. “They can’t boo Zambrano.”
Ah, yes, meet the new Ozzie, same as the old Ozzie.
As a second act in this personality revival, Guillen – who had avoided headlines and controversy for months – proceeded to produce both when he exchanged words with the Nationals’ Bryce Harper after the 19-year-old phenom pointed his bat in Guillen’s direction during Sunday’s game.
Following Harper’s first at-bat, Guillen had complained that the bat he was using had too much pine tar. In the fourth inning, that apparently prompted Harper to show Guillen that has new bat was legit, causing Ozzie to go bats.
After the game, Guillen said that Harper “might not make it” in baseball if he continues such behavior, and went on to complain, “What he did today was unprofessional.”
Hello, kettle? This is the pot calling.
Grasping irony isn’t one of Ozzie’s strong suits, now when considering Guillen has pretty much built a career in baseball on being unprofessional. That and controversial, which is what Guillen was on Monday while again discussing Zambrano’s return to Wrigley Field and taking his customary digs at his favorite punching bags, Cubs fans.
“He’s going to have fun,” Guillen said about Zambrano. “… I’m going to be next to him, they don’t know which one they’re going to boo … They can say whatever they want, but as long as they don’t cross the line, let’s go have fun.
“They can boo Zambrano, but Zambrano should be booed … Carlos had a tough time the last couple of years he was there. How many people (Wrigley Field) holds? 35? 30? Just pay to boo Ozzie and Carlos, please. The Cubs need the money to rebuild the ballclub.”
This coming from a guy whose Marlins have only seven more wins than Chicago’s North Siders.
But, hey, that’s Guillen. And while I can’t say we’ve really missed it, the Ozzie Show is indeed back in town for a limited-time engagement. Now that he’s back in mid-season form, don’t expect Guillen to waste one minute of it.
So, open your eyes, cover your ears and let’s play ball.
It might not be pretty, but it should be interesting.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.