By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) My, what a difference five years can make.
Back in 2008 before the first-place Chicago White Sox (the what?) took on the first-place Chicago Cubs (the who?) during a highly anticipated interleague series on the North Side, Sox manager Ozzie Guillen set venerable Wrigley Field up on a tee.
And then he took his cuts.
“What’s wrong with saying I don’t like this ballpark?” Guillen told reporters after joking about seeing rats as big as bodybuilders beneath Wrigley’s right-field bleachers. “You ask any player which one they like less and they might throw in some names. Ask me about it, and this is the one I pick.
“It’s a museum. They like to come to Wrigley Field. I don’t say people don’t like to come here. I say Ozzie don’t like to come here. But, hey, you have to do what you have to do. Wake up in the morning and go to Wrigley Field is not a good thing. But it’s fun to play against them.”
In Ozzie’s world, that apparently was then. And this is now. Because since Guillen can no longer play against Cubs since he was fired by the Miami Marlins last year, he’s now saying that he wants to join them instead.
“I just make it very clear if they want me as a coach, the only team I will coach is the Cubs,” Guillen revealed this week from Boston, where he’s working at the World Series as an analyst for ESPN Deportes. “The reason is I live there. I don’t have to move my family in and out. As (for) a manager opening, if anyone is interested in me, at least give me an opportunity to express myself.”
Guillen then went to elaborate, “… If I get that job as a coach, my job will be to make sure to get the players ready to play for the manager every day. With the people (the Cubs) have in the minor leagues, it’s a (good fit) for a Latino coach or manager. They have their plans. (President) Theo Epstein knows what he’s doing.”
If Epstein indeed does know what he’s doing, then he’ll know better than to go anywhere near Guillen – and not just because hiring the North Siders’ longtime antagonist might turn off even more Cubs fans than the team’s 197 losses have during the past two seasons.
While Guillen does know how to manage (he has that World Series ring) and knows how to communicate to Latino players (his English often sounds more like Spanish), he has a major flaw as a coach. Namely, that he’s not cut out to be one. Third-base, bench or otherwise. Not anymore, at least.
Think about it, with his outsized personality, outrageous opinions and enormous ego, Guillen’s presence on a staff would overshadow any manager that he might be working “for.” Anyone who watched Ozzie during his time managing the White Sox knows that he can’t stand to not be the center of attention. And while there perhaps was a time – say, 2003 – when he was well-suited to be someone’s lieutenant, that time has long since passed.
These days, if he’s not the general, Ozzie won’t be happy. And as a coach, he’ll cause drama and he’ll cause trouble. He’ll cause that as a manager too, but at least he won’t be overwhelming anyone’s authority and stealing someone else’s interview opportunities in the process.
For Ozzie, if he’s to return to the field, it’s as a manager, or bust.
And joining the Cubs in any capacity would also be just that: A bust.
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.