Ozzie Guillen has a big mouth. He knows it. Everyone in baseball knows it. He has periodically crossed the line by saying things he shouldn’t have said. He knows that, too. Around 80 percent of the time Ozzie is a funny guy, but it’s the other percentage that got him fired as manager of the Miami Marlins. That, and losing. Losing is a bigger sin than almost anything you can think of to say when it comes to job retention.
Guillen practically committed suicide with a magazine interview in which he came off as saying things that could be construed as favorable to Fidel Castro. Maybe if he had said such things in Cleveland or Denver it wouldn’t have mattered so much. But in Miami? Ozzie, baby, are you nuts? That was a bad start.
Then came the really bad start–the Marlins on the field. With the opening of a brand new ballpark that included a brand new, amusement-park- sized fish tank as decoration, Marlins management spent big on free agents, hoping for a one-year turn-around in the standings. Maybe they were a bit optimistic in South Florida, but the Marlins figured If We Spend It, We Will Win. And they didn’t.
Nothing went right during the 2012 season for the Marlins, though at least no giant squid, killer shark, or some other aggressive species ate a fan. Players played badly. Guillen said out loud that he managed badly. (That was also a kiss-of-death comment). So Guillen is out in Miami after one season. The Castro comment gets blamed for some it, though it’s a fair bet if the Marlins had won 95 games and made it to the National League Division Series or shown some other noteworthy sign of progress, he would still be in charge.
The Marlins will reassess how they spend their money. They will bring in another fresh face as manager. But what will happen to Ozzie Guillen?
Guillen did an exemplary job as manager of the Chicago White Sox. He won a World Series title in Chicago. Anyone who spent any time hanging with Guillen in the dugout knows he can be a very entertaining and insightful man. His candor is refreshing in this age of political correctness. The Marlins owe him something like $7.5 million not to manage for a couple of years and what Guillen said to inflame the populace in Miami does not make him radioactive enough to be ruled out of future managing jobs in parts of the United States where what happens in Cuba isn’t as much of a hot-button issue.
In past years those who man TV baseball shows during the playoffs have hired Guillen as a temporary commentator and he has done well in that role. It’s entirely possible he will go the route that so many ousted managers take–hiring on as a baseball analyst for a network as a way to stay close to the game until his batteries recharge and the right managing job comes around again. It worked for Bobby Valentine (sort of). It worked for Terry Francona.
Or Guillen could simply take a year off and go wind surfing at Miami Beach for kicks instead of paying close attention to baseball at all in 2013. Eventually a club that needs an infusion of personality and needs someone to build a good team will call Guillen and he will be back on the baseball stage, making people laugh, and leading another team to the playoffs.