In 2004 Ozzie Guillen was hired as the new White Sox manager and quickly brought the south side franchise out of the Cubs shadow. Yes he led the Sox to 99 victories and a World Series championship in 2005 but that was only part of the reason the team grabbed headlines. Ozzie replaced an older, much more reserved manager in Jerry Manuel. His short fuse, willingness to say anything about anyone and humorous nature pulled headlines away from a Cubs-dominant baseball media. For a newspaper writer or beat reporter, Guillen was a dream to cover and will surely be missed as he moves on to lead the Miami Marlins.
Scroll through the Tribune White Sox section and you’ll find 4 current headlines containing “Ozzie” or “Guillen”. You’ll find only 1 headline containing the name of current Sox manager, Robin Ventura. Why does Guillen make an interesting Chicago story even while preparing to manage a team 1400 miles away? His tirades, quips and insults kept writers writing and reporters showing up to his office in droves. Ventura gets that his personality won’t garner headlines the way Guillen’s did:
“I played with Ozzie for a long time, and we were good friends. I have a different personality, but we both go out on the field with the common goal of playing every day, winning and having fun…”
White Sox beat writers like Joe Cowley and Mark Gonzales, reporters like Doug Padilla as well as columnists across the city relied on Guillen quotes to fill newspaper pages and website blogs alike. Guillen could throw one of his players under the bus and bash a former Sox ‘s player in the same post-game news conference. He could blame Kenny Williams for an inadequate roster in one breath while demanding a contract extension in the next. And he could crack a joke forcing laughter out of the group of reports gathered around him. All of which made for great headlines and interesting copy. But a new spring brings a new manager and it’s time for the media to feed fans baseball stories, not baseball drama.
The new manager won’t squabble with his General Manager, wear out a radio bleep censor or attract nearly as much attention as Ozzie did. Without the sideshow, the focus will turn to analyzing Kenny Williams rebuilding project and how well the players actually perform on the field. John Danks takes over as the team ace now that Mark Buehrle has left for the Marlins. Chris Sale will move into the starting rotation leaving the bullpen even weaker than it was last year while Adam Dunn looks to bounce back from a tragically poor season. And Dayan Viciedo will attempt to take a major step forward as he becomes an everyday outfielder. These headlines and more should give the Chicago media plenty to focus on but the sensational headlines of yore won’t be seen around town in 2012.