Goodbye, Ozzie

I never knew what to expect from Ozzie Guillen. Nobody did.

But his departure from the Chicago White Sox was different. For once, I knew his next move. I knew he was leaving. I just didn’t know it would be this soon.

For weeks, or maybe even months, there have been questions of the manager’s future. He wanted an extension, but the White Sox organization didn’t want to give it to him. After failing to obtain the extension, Guillen asked to be released.  Last Monday, the White Sox granted his request. And just like that, Ozzie Guillen was gone. Before it could even register, Guillen was on his way to join the Florida Marlins. Good managers don’t last long on the market.

Guillen’s first season with the White Sox was in 2004, making him the fourth-longest tenured manager in MLB behind Tony La Russa, Ron Gardenhire, and Mike Scioscia. That’s pretty good company. He lead the White Sox to a 679-618 record in that eight-year span, along with two division titles and one World Series championship in 2005. But Guillen was more than just a manager; He was the face of the franchise, a rarity in Major League Baseball and sports in general.

Of course, a lot of that can be attributed to Ozzie’s behavior. Nobody speaks his mind like Ozzie speaks his. You know how you have that friend that has no censor and speaks what he thinks no matter the environment? That’s Guillen on the field and off it. I mean, how many people can say they’ve had a slide show made about their best rants? Because of Ozzie, even when the White Sox weren’t in the playoff hunt, they were relevant.

What I’ll remember Guillen the most for is the 2005 season. The White Sox started the season with a 16-4 record and never looked back, finishing 99-63 with a division title. The White Sox then went 11-1 in the postseason, bringing Chicago its first World Series championship since 1917. The White Sox fans in Houston after Game 4 chanted “THANK-YOU-OZZIE!” into the night, and I chanted, at home, along with them. It’s the only championship I’ve experienced as a fan, and much of it is because Ozzie Guillen.

The last three seasons, though, have been disappointing.  The White Sox have finished under .500 two out of the last three seasons, including this one. Of course, not all of this is Guillen’s fault. Only three players from the 2005 roster remain (Paul Konerko, Mark Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski) and expensive acquisitions have underperformed dramatically (Adam Dunn and Alex Rios). With the team underperforming the past three seasons, it makes sense for change to take place. I’m just sad that it’s Ozzie leaving.

“The decision [the Sox] made, wrong or right, people will forget about me in a couple months. They will forget who Ozzie Guillen is,” Guillen said after his release.

That’s where Ozzie is wrong. We will never forget the energy he brought to the club and the rants he made about the team. We will never forget the 2005 season. We will never forget Ozzie Guillen.

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