6 Things About Ozzie Guillen (and One About Sandy Alomar Jr.)

The first good profile of the erstwhile White Sock; Ozzie and his wife on WCIU’s “Beisbol ‘86”; leadership advice on the importance of running your mouth; and more.

Ozzie Guillen

 

1. When Ozzie Guillen first came to the White Sox in late 1984, he arrived in the midst of controversy: then-Sox scout Jerry Krause took a liking to Guillen nearly from the time he was drafted at 16 by the Padres, and the Sox picked up Guillen, pitcher Tim Lollar (who lasted one 3-5 year with the team), and utility man Luis Salazar (who was back with the Padres by 1987) in exchange for LaMarr Hoyt. Hoyt won the Cy Young in 1983, regressed significantly in 1984, and would become an All-Star after the trade; Carlton Fisk created a stir by blasting the move.

But reading the first really good profile of Guillen, by Sports Illustrated’s Jim Kaplan in September 1985, you can see the player Guillen was becoming… and the small-ball manager he’d win a World Series as. Certainly he came with an impressive pedigree, having trained with Ernesto Aparicio, the uncle of his Venezuelan predecessor Luis Aparicio:

“My body is young,” says Guillen, “but my mind, no.” His teammates agree. First baseman Greg Walker notes that Guillen throws only hard enough to get the runner. “Most young players try to air it out all the time,” Walker says. Seaver was astounded when he heard Guillen yell “Go home” to third baseman Tim Hullet, who had just fielded a grounder with men on first and third and no outs. Hullet elected to start an around-the-horn double play and allow the run to score. “I asked Ozzie about that,” said Seaver. “He said, ‘ John Wathan’s the next batter; you’ll get him to ground out.’ And that’s what he did. Ozzie has a sharp mind and great instinct.”

[snip]

Guillen is forever asking questions of manager Tony La Russa and Brinkman. In rare moments of silence he’ll observe opposing infielders from the dugout. Guillen believes his own ready position resembles that of Tony Fernandez, the Toronto shortstop. “Tony bends low at the knees and moves forward on pitches like a dancer,” says Guillen. He promptly demonstrated the Shortstop Mambo: one, two, three: stop.

The trade got even more strange, as the Sox would get LaMarr Hoyt back not once, but twice. Hoyt ended up in the famous Hazelden rehab clinic in 1986 after getting busted in San Ysidro with “three grams of marijuana, 79 valium tablets and 46 quaaludes,” which he forfeited after paying a $620 penalty. He was arrested a second time that year, at another border checkpoint, with 490 tablets of valium and quaaludes; he spent 38 days in jail and was suspended for the 1987 season by Peter Uberroth, who was fighting the infamous recreational-drug problems of the mid-80s; the year before he’d suspended 11 major leaguers. Hoyt re-signed with the White Sox after his banishment, and was subsequently arrested again for cocaine and marijuana possession, by an old high-school teammate turned cop.

Hoyt seems to have disappeared for a decade; in 2000 the Tribune found him working in a department store in his native South Carolina. By 2003 he’d opened a business there, and in 2004, two decades after he anchored their great 1983 team, Hoyt returned as a spring instructor.


2. We’re not just losing a coach, we’re losing a newspaper columnist: “No sport lends itself more to criticism than baseball. … Who plays each position, what turn at the bat you’re going to give him, what pitch you’re going to request, what play you’re going to make. Should the team play inside or outside? And the outfielders? Do you bunt the ball, or do you prefer to hit and run? Do you give the pitcher one more batter, or do you bring in the lefty who’s warming up? Devils! So many options.”


3. Earlier this year, Ozzie gave Chicago some advice on leadership. My favorite part:

Believe in yourself, then back it up. A lot of people say, “You talk a lot of shit because you have success.” Well, I have success because I talk a lot of shit.


4. From the wonderful FuzzyMemories.TV, Beisbol ‘86 from WCIU (en Español) with Ruben Amaro, though I don’t know if it’s the former Philly and father of the Phillies’ GM. The first clip features Ozzie’s wife, Ivis, and their kids.


5. SI’s Jon Heyman is exactly right: the Marlins are perfect for Guillen. They’re a desultory franchise with terrible attendance—their biggest news this year was drawing 347 fans to a game—and a wildly talented but troubled shortstop in Hanley Ramirez, who could use a mentor. And if the Marlins land Aramis Ramirez and Big Z, two fun rumors flying around, it will be good times for snowbirds.


6. David Haugh blasts Ozzie for greed:

A man truly committed to Jerry Reinsdorf and the franchise who made him a multimillionaire waits until after the 162nd game before negotiating his exit. A man who respects the game as much as Guillen always claimed doesn’t make such a mockery of his final month over money.

But it’s worth remembering that cuts both ways:

Guillen said that, for the first time in his 17 years as a pro player, he had difficulty trying to sleep Thursday night.

“I know it was a business situation,” Guillen said. “Jerry [Reinsdorf] told me to test the market, and the door would always be open here. But it was like going to Vegas and getting hit by a truck, and they say, `We’ll put you in the best hospital.’ ”


7. Steve Stone says Sandy Alomar, Jr. will be the next Sox manager. As a brilliant catcher who played some of his career for a team that has a tendency to bring back former players in different roles, the odds seem pretty good.

 

Photograph: Chicago Tribune

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