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Lessons from the Dugout, the Clubhouse, and the Doghouse

by Rick Morrissey

Pub Date: May 22nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9500-5
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist examines the highly idiosyncratic ways of Ozzie Guillen, baseball’s most controversial manager.

Well, that didn’t take long. Only days into the 2012 season and the Miami Marlins suspended their new manager for five games for praising Fidel Castro, remarks that enraged the city’s Cuban community. Whether this or some future furor results in his firing, the episode appears to confirm Morrissey’s prediction that things will “end messy” for Guillen in Miami, just as they did in Chicago with the White Sox. In this debut, Morrissey employs “a Ten Commandments format” common to business management guides, almost as if to demonstrate how resistant Guillen’s messy style is to any traditional template. Too maddeningly contradictory to ever be pinned down, Guillen lives for the spotlight, disregarding “rules” that normally apply to sound management. Thus, he likes “to be in the hot seat,” but he’s unusually sensitive to criticism; he refuses to throw players under the bus, except when he does; he forthrightly confesses to working only for “fucking money,” but his “biggest satisfaction” is winning championship rings; he’s the first Latin manager to win the World Series, but a coach for the Dodgers, a Dominican native, thinks Guillen has “embarrassed every Latino player, coach and front office person.” Morrissey credits Guillen for his baseball acumen, energy and drive, traits that allowed him to embrace a foreign culture from the age of 17 and succeed as a player and manager. But he wonders whether the drama he creates, almost all of it attributable to his fabulously profane, unguarded tongue, will undo him. In today’s buttoned-down, stat-driven era, Guillen is a throwback, a reminder of when baseball burst with colorful characters and when a skipper could be every bit as brash, fiery and impulsive as Guillen and still keep his job.

A remarkably timely dispatch from the turbulent Land of Oz.