Friday, September 26, 2008

If The White Sox Miss The Playoffs, Will That FINALLY Spell The End For Nuclear Ozzie Guillen?

  • Twins 7-White Sox 6:
The job security of Nuclear Ozzie Guillen has been put into question before and the White
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Sox responded to such suggestions by giving their manager a very long-term contract extension. Despite his over-the-edge rants; propensity for publicly chastising and calling out his players; and frequent back-and-forths with everyone ranging from his own boss, to opposing players, to the media, Guillen has always been a good game manager. But one has to question when the final nail will be pounded into the coffin.
This year has been relatively quiet for Guillen (in comparison to his usual out-of-control behaviors on and off the field), but it hasn't been without controversy. There was the calling out of his own hitting coach, Greg Walker, early in the season and the demand to GM Kenny Williams that something be done about the White Sox impotent offense; and most recently the manager chose the most inopportune time to call out a mentally fragile pitcher in Javier Vazquez just as he was preparing to take the mound for a start that, had he won, would likely have ended the Twins hopes of catching the White Sox. Vazquez got pounded and lost the opening game, setting the tone for the series on a bad note for the White Sox. Then, after employing the questionable strategy of pushing closer Bobby Jenks to a third inning, losing the game and
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first place and presumably rendering Jenks unavailable for tonight's game against the Indians, Guillen is having another verbal battle with one of his own players in Orlando Cabrera----Sun-Times Story.
Taken individually, these things wouldn't be cause to dismiss a manager who: A) really is a strategically solid tactician; and B) has had such success including a World Series win; but when are GM Ken Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf going to say that enough's enough and Guillen's unique style is a case of diminishing returns? The White Sox may right the ship this weekend, but it's not going to be easy; the Indians are coming into Chicago hoping to finish the season above .500 and if necessary, there's going to be a make-up game on Monday between the Tigers and White Sox. The Tigers (specifically Magglio Ordonez) would probably like nothing better than to knock Guillen and the White Sox out of the playoffs. While all that is going on, the Twins will
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have the Royals coming into the Metrodome for three games.
The main thing that would concern me is that the Twins are playing with a whole load of luck (and that accounts for a chunk of their unbelievable success with runners in scoring position above any other reason) and that they're a well-schooled, close-knit group that plays the game correctly, while the White Sox are always a powder keg ready to explode, usually with a spark from their manager. If the Twins take the division, would that be the end of Guillen's managerial tenure? It's been speculated before that the manager might be in trouble, but eventually he is going to wear out his welcome and be replaced. The results of this weekend could dictate whether it's going to be now or later.
  • Was Guillen bothered by Tony La Russa's visit to Yankee Stadium as a guest of White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf?
Guillen played for La Russa as a rookie and while there would be no obvious reason for La
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Russa's visit to see Yankee Stadium one last time as a threat to Guillen, one has to understand the inherent paranoia that comes with being a manager. Guillen's not stupid; he has to know that La Russa is unhappy with the Cardinals penny-pinching and that Reinsdorf has openly expressed his regret that he allowed then-GM Hawk Harrelson to fire La Russa in 1986 and the duo would probably like to end La Russa's managerial career where it began back in Chicago with the White Sox at some point.
It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Cardinals would allow La Russa to leave if that's what he really wanted to do (especially if he was going to manage in the other league) and that Guillen would be fired if the White Sox blow their division. On the surface, I'm sure that Guillen didn't mind La Russa's visit, but deep down, he had to be threatened by it because it's just a natural reaction and not without merit.

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