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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Reaction to Ozzie!

by Mark Liptak

Heís back!

With the announcement that Ozzie Guillen has been named the 37th manager of the White Sox the speculation has started as to whether or not this will turn out to be a quality move for the organization. Like with anything else only time will tell. Fan reaction, at least at White Sox Interactive, has been divided on the question. Some see Guillenís enthusiasm, love of the game and his loyalty to the White Sox as the tonic needed to shake an underachieving club out of the doldrums. Others feel his lack of managerial experience and reputation as a jokester are detriments to what is ultimately the bottom line, winning enough to get to the post season and to turn the attention away from the Cubs.

Since so many questions abound, I went to the people who should know best, the players, to get a read on Ozzie, his abilities and the possible detours in the road. The following are the thoughts of some of his former teammates and people who have been involved in Major League Baseball for a number of years on Ozzie, and the move that the White Sox made.

Cory Snyder- outfielder, teammate of Guillen in 1991

On what Guillen brings to the table: "Ozzie was a great player but more then that, heís an incredible person. He played the game hard but he made the game fun. As a former player, I can tell you that Iíd rather play for a guy like Ozzie whoís fun to be around. "Dusty" Baker was my hitting coach in San Francisco and he turned out to be a players manager. I think Ozzieís going to be like that, a guy whoíll get results. I also played for Cito Gaston in Toronto and he was a great guy, he knew baseball but he was always so serious. I think baseball needs more fun people and I like to see younger managers. They usually bring different ideas to the table. Ozzie also will be able to deal with the Chicago media, heíll do a great job."

On the issue of Guillenís age and lack of managerial experience: "Ozzieís been around the game for years. Heís a smart guy, he knows the game and how to play it. More importantly everybody knows who he is among todayís players, theyíve heard of him. One of the big things that he has going for him is that heís a great motivator, heís been there, heís done it. The young guys will have respect for him and what heís accomplished."

On the issue of how Frank Thomas, a longtime former teammate, will get along with Ozzie who is only four years older: "I saw Frank go from a young kid to a superstar in a short period of time. Ozzie was a great player as well, he might not have been a household name but Frank knows how good he was. I think both guys will sit down as adults and figure out what to do. I think Frank will have respect for Ozzie and Ozzie will respect Frank."

Donn Pall- pitcher, teammate of Guillen from 1988 through 1993

On how big a gamble it was to hire Guillen: "Itís a moderate gamble. You know what you were getting in a person like Cito Gaston, a guy who won two world championships. You just donít know what you are going to get with Ozzie. I think Ozzieís going to rely on his coaches a lot. especially Don Cooper to handle the pitching staff. At this point in time I donít know if this will be a good move or a bad move. I do know that I hate the way baseball keeps recycling the same guys. Itís ridiculous, you need new blood and Ozzie is certainly that "

On the issue of Guillenís age and lack of managerial experience: "I donít think having previous major league managing experience is as big a deal as some make it out to be. That being said, personally, Iíd like a manager to have some experience even if itís just at the minor league level. Thereís a lot to learn at the big league level."

On some of the strengths that Guillen has: "Ozzieís enthusiasm certainly will be a factor in the type of job heíll do. Heíll definitely be a leader because he was that type of player, heíd have fun but if you werenít doing your job heíd get in your face until you did."

On Ozzieís reputation as someone who loved to talk: "He was definitely a chatterbox. Heíd talk in the dressing room, during warm ups, in the dugout and between pitches! It wouldnít surprise me at all to hear someone saw that Ozzie would be talking as a ground ball was hit to him and as he was throwing the guy out at first."

On the relationship that Guillen will have with former teammate Frank Thomas: "It will be very interesting to see how that plays out. Like I said Ozzie will get in his face if he has to. Obviously things are going to have to be handled differently with Ozzie as Frankís manager then when he was his teammate. I donít think there are any issues right now between the two."

On the perception that Guillenís hiring was the decision of Jerry Reinsdorf: "I donít think thatís the case. Kenny (Williams) has control of this ballclub."

Billy Pierce- pitcher with the Sox from 1949 - 1961, Sox TV color commentator 1970, has been connected with the Sox as a member of their speakers bureau for a number of years.

On the positives that Guillen brings to the Sox organization: "Ozzie was always a very friendly person, he was always a fan favorite. He played well, he hustled and I think the fans want someone who will create some excitement. Ozzie will also help get the media on his side and thatís very important."

On the issue of Guillenís age and lack of managerial experience: "Itís always a factor. The key for him is going to be when to take a pitcher out. I still think pitching is 85% of the game, heís going to have to rely on his coaches like Joe Nossek and Don Cooper. If he doesnít accept their help, that will be a big mistake."

On the relationship that Guillen will have with former teammate Frank Thomas: "I was in that same position myself when I was with Detroit. I played with Paul Richards. In fact he was my catcher. Later on when I was with the Sox Paul became my manager. The age difference was greater then itís going to be for Ozzie and Frank. The key is going to be does the person have respect for the other person? I hope so. Frank will have to accept that Ozzie is now the manager and Iíd suspect that the two of them will get together this off season or in the first few days of spring training to meet. The meeting will probably be very quiet and that no one will know about it."

On any possible split that might develop between Ken Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf over this selection. (The perception being that Guillen is a Reinsdorf hire.): "I donít think thatís the case. I think Jerry goes along with what Kenny wants. Iím sure the two had disagreements over possible candidates but they probably talked about it in private and came up with an agreement over what they wanted. I know this, that being fan friendly is a priority in the organization ozzie certainly has that."

Jerry Koosman - pitcher for the Sox from 1981 through 1983. Played major league baseball from 1967 through 1984.

On the issue of Guillenís age and lack of managerial experience: "Ozzie knows the game. The toughest thing for most managers is handling the pitching staff but since Ozzieís getting most of the current coaching staff he should be fine. The Sox have good personnel on that staff."

On Guillenís statement that heís going to treat everyone the same, that there wonít be different rules for different players.: "Thatís a great statement. My manager with the Mets, Gil Hodges only had one set of rules. If he maintains that stance thatís wonderful but to do that he has to be backed up by the general manager and the owner. Itís important for the players to know that if they donít do the job and get benched, regardless of how much they are being paid, the manager wonít be told to play them anyway. Owners donít usually like to shell out a lot of money to guys who arenít playing. And the players want to know that there are only one set of rules, it creats more respect."

On the relationship that Guillen will have with former teammate Frank Thomas: "Itís going to have to be different. I had the same situation when Joe Torre became the Mets manager. I played with Joe and we ran together. I knew that things would have to change. I knew that Joe wasnít going to be able to go out with me afterwards and have a beer. One time a guy hit a ball that I thought was going to be caught. What happened was that the infielder backed up a step and caught it on a hop. I was slow to cover first base because I thought he was going to catch it and the guy was safe. I knew that Joe wouldnít fine me so I went into his office, put a hundred dollar bill down on his desk and fined myself. It was my way of taking Joe off the hook and having the other guys realize that I wasnít going to be treated any differently. Joe by the way didnít take the money! Iím sure though that things will be fine between Ozzie and Frank."

As always your questions, comments and insights are appreciated. Feel free to contact me at mliptak1@ida.net


Editor's Note: †Mark Liptak is an experienced sports journalist, holding several awards for both his electronic and print media work. †He has held numerous sports reporting positions for various TV and newspaper†organizations, including Director of Sports for KNOE-TV (Monroe, Louisiana)†and KPVI-TV (Pocatello, Idaho), and sports writer for the Idaho Falls Free Press, where his column "Lip Service" has appeared for for a number of years. †"Lip", his wife, and cats presently live in Chubbuck, Idaho, where they collectively comprise 100 percent of the Pocatello River Valley's long-time Sox Fan population.

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