Baffoe: Is Ozzie Guillen Baseball’s Ditka?
By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) His name still resonates here in Chicago, for better or for worse. To many, the name “Ozzie” conjures up warm feelings of 2005 or chuckling over his comments about Wrigley Field. For others, the name is like a mouthful of bees, a stinging taste left from his exit from the Southside or from his abrasive attitude.
The man is gone from here but certainly not forgotten, nor will he likely ever be. Such a personality is so rare, so polarizing that it embeds itself into Chicago lore forever. In Chicago sports montages for years and years to come, we will likely see, at some point, the face of Ozzie Guillen along with Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks, Patrick Kane, and Mike Ditka.
I thought about that yesterday after hearing of Guillen’s firing from the Miami Marlins, and in that reflection a frightening thought entered my head that I haven’t been able to shake since. Is Ozzie… I’m sorry, my fingers are trembling here. Is he becoming (deep breath) Ditka?
As your eyes grow wide or jaws drop, please stop, collaborate, and listen. Consider the following:
- Former player for a Chicago team he also coached to a championship.
- Outspoken, controversial, beloved by soundbytephiles.
- Famously feuded with members within the organization.
- Oft-criticized for not having greater success in Chicago.
- His own hubris is cited as a major factor in there not being more of that success.
- At the end of his Chicago coaching tenure, he was still adored by many, while others understood and advocated that it was time to go.
- Went on to coach another team to absolutely disastrous results.
- Has some less-than-bright children.
To whom does that list refer?
The past of Guillen as it parallels that of Ditka is not of much serious concern to me; instead, it is the likely future I’m worried about. I can only speculate, mostly because if Ozzie decided to initiate the colonization of the moon or work piloting a rickshaw in Madagascar I would not be very much surprised. But a safe bet might involve a post-coaching career that parallels Ditka’s just as equally.
As Da Coach has gone the way of TV talking head, almost immediately after Guillen was canned people began predicting an analyst gig for him. He’s already done such a thing in limited capacity, and while I have hang-ups in a broadcasting environment regarding his accent and often-indecipherable English, his personality and “oh, what will he say next” allure probably trumps that (or he could get put on a Spanish language outlet of a major network).
He’ll gradually embrace the role of kooky old timer who scolds and disagrees with the new generation of ballplayer and constantly bickers with the recently-retired late 30s panelist to his left or right. And he’ll make weekly predictions on outcomes of games based on unquantifiable crap that former coaches are expected to vomit at the viewer—“This guy have so much desire.” “I never see a team that has chemistry like this.”
Once the distaste for Ozzie that still lingers for many a year after his jettison from U.S. Cellular Field finally leaves fans palates—and it will because sports fans are a largely forgiving bunch, especially toward a manager who brought a franchise its first championship in eighty-eight years—he will be welcomed to White Sox-related events and serve in a quasi-ambassador fashion akin to a Banks or Bobby Hull. He will endorse wines and restaurants and cars and cigars and erectile dysfunction pills. Something like “Take Calientia and restore the fire.”
You’ll see Ozzie get a few walk on roles on sitcoms, an episode of one of the sixteen Law & Orders, and a Will Ferrell movie. Something like Ball So Hard: The Biff McNulty Story where he’ll play a manager for a team in a Spanish-speaking country where Ferrell’s washed up ballplayer character mistakenly gets deported.
Ozzie will soon become a parody of himself just like Ditka. He’ll be reduced to a walking accent instead of famous hair and a mustache. Future generations will know him as the crazy dude who coached somewhere before and makes an ass of himself on TV just like Da Coach and his Vitalean and Corsoish brethren.
He’ll fund his kids’ legal bills and ludicrous business ventures via the gobs of cash he’ll get speaking at Elks Clubs and Coaching Clinics and business conventions. There will be at least half a dozen books “by” Ozzie Guillen on life and the lessons learned.
I’m just warning you. Get ready for El Coach.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.