By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Over the past season-and-a-half, Chicago’s two baseball teams are a combined 86 games under .500. Good seats aren’t just available at U.S. Cellular and Wrigley Field – they’re plentiful. And so far this summer, both the Cubs and the White Sox have found themselves largely overshadowed by the Blackhawks, World Cup and even NBA free agency.
Yes, right now in the Windy City, baseball is a bore.
But Ozzie Guillen would apparently love to change that – down on the South Side, at least. And I don’t doubt that he could.
Before Tuesday’s All-Star Game, the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley asked the former manager of the White Sox if could see himself being the future manager of the White Sox now that he’s significant steps toward patching up a relationship with owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Guillen replied, ‘‘I wish,” before immediately adding, “If I say yes, then I don’t respect (current manager) Robin Ventura. But that’s not where I’m coming from. When Robin gets tired of managing or he’s had enough, I would like to be back. But it’s up to them. If I wear a uniform and it’s the White Sox, that will be special.”
It would certainly be interesting, considering that Guillen almost always is. And even though I’ve never been particularly pro-Ozzie, his eventual return to the South Side could actually make a lot of sense if Ventura doesn’t ultimately pan out.
From 2004 to 2011, Guillen recorded an impressive 678-617 (.524) record with the White Sox – the third-most wins of any skipper in team history – reached the playoffs twice and won the franchise’s first World Series championship in 88 years in 2005. Yet throughout his tumultuous eight-year tenure in Chicago, Guillen also showed himself to be an arrogant loudmouth who too often spoke without thinking while also never failing to say what he thought.
Foolish comments about Fidel Castro led to his eventual ouster with the Miami Marlins in 2012 after just one disappointing season, and since then Guillen has been living back in Chicago while he bides his time for his next opportunity.
Based on his ego, it’s difficult to imagine Guillen being anything but a manager. And based on resume, there’s little doubt that Guillen indeed knows how to manage, although I’ve long believed that he’s also a guy who players can only endure for so long.
After compiling a .534 winning percentage (433-378) during his first five years in Chicago, which included four winning seasons, two first-place finishes and a World Series crown, Guillen’s final three seasons devolved into a composite .506 record (245-239) with two losing campaigns.
While surely not the lone factor, I suspect that over time his endlessly controversial antics and mercurial demeanor eventually wore out his White Sox players and with it his welcome in Chicago.
However, after a hiatus during which the organization and the city have each had a chance to recuperate from a case of an Ozzie overdose, I could see Guillen some day breathing life, personality and wins back into the White Sox much in the way he first did a decade ago.
He has the ability, and if George Steinbrenner could hire Billy Martin as Yankees manager five times, then Reinsdorf might consider hiring Guillen twice. There’s no doubt that Chicago is a less interesting baseball city without Guillen managing – for both Sox and Cubs fans – and it’s been a less successful as well, with each team currently struggling to attract wins, crowds and attention.
Surely, Guillen has learned a few things since his falls from grace in both Chicago and Miami, and it would be compelling theater to someday find out what those lessons might be.
In the meantime, the White Sox belong to Ventura, about whom the jury is still out in Chicago. The Sox already weighed in with a decision about Guillen three years ago, but in the future they may be wise to reopen his management case.
Especially since Guillen has now said he’d like to try it.