Hasta la vista, Ozzie | Bleader

Hasta la vista, Ozzie


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For the last several years it's been a joy to sit in the dugout and listen to Ozzie Guillen's media sessions on a daily basis. Before the game, he'd make himself accessible to reporters to discuss the day's news—who's playing, who's not, while sizing up contenders and the given opponents—inevitably followed by a more free-ranging, off-the-record session. He was always eloquent (in his own fashion), profane, unpredictable, and open. There was nothing he wouldn't address.

"When I say 'no comment,' then people they know I'm full of shit," he said not long ago. A reporter asked a follow-up if he had ever offered no comment. "Never," he said. And I can't recall otherwise.

Yet as unpredictable as Ozzie could be in conversation, he only grew more predictable as a manager over his eight-year tenure. Incidents where he managed from the gut—as in playing the infield back with the tying run at third late in a game against the Angels in the 2005 championship season (which worked out, as so many unlikely things did that year)—became more and more rare. He liked a set lineup and disliked platooning. For all his talk of Ozzieball, he was not eager to hit and run. He played the lefty-righty percentages both with relievers and pinch hitters, and he liked to let his starting pitchers go deep into games. And although he broke in several good young players, he increasingly preferred veterans. His faith in Adam Dunn and Alex Rios cost him his job as much as his contract status did.

He joked recently about the avid reception he got from Chicagoans while walking down the street or going out to restaurants. "Oprah Winfrey left," he said. "Michael Jordan left. This is Ozzie's fucking town."
Not anymore. Hasta la vista, Ozzie. Hope you enjoy your boat in Miami Beach.