Thank’s to my friend Scott Johnston, and his company, PROTVSPORTS, I first got the opportunity to work with the White Sox back in 2004. The job consisted of me, and cameraman Tom, interviewing players, and team personnel on the daily goings on in spring training. We also shot practice, games, and many other Sox related activities.
That was my first experience with 1st year manager Ozzie Guillen. And from the very first day he was who his was. F’bombs flew at a record rate, as did candid comments every time he spoke. With Ozzie, F’bombs are not considered a negative. It’s just part of who he was. If you asked him for an interview, he would say F-no. It wasn’t said negatively, it was just part of him. I remember actually thinking I did something wrong when I asked him for a pregame chat and he said, “No, I prefer to do them after the game”.
I can remember many an instance when he would say something and you would look around the room, and say to yourself, “Did he just say that?”
I can remember back in 2005, I asked him about some of the left handed pitchers he watched in early spring.
Me: Ozzie, did any of the leftys’ impress you today?
Ozzie: NO! They all sucked. If this was the end of spring, I would have none of those guys on my staff.
To most people, that’s no big deal, but for a major league manager to say that, that is like striking gold in a silver mine.
He never, ever gave anyone a standard, pat answer. He told you what he thought no matter what the consequences. Let me add up how many other MLB Managers do that. OK, 15 + 8 -4, hold the 9= ZERO! All the other crew guys knew Tom and I had it great. While they were coming back with boring drivel, we were laughing at something Ozzie said or did.
Ozzie never pulled punches with his players either. He used to hassle El Dugue, Orlando Hernandez incessantly. From what I saw, he treated the players like men. He protected them when things went bad, always pointing the finger at himself.
Then there were the focus days. Ozzie is Venezuelan, so sometimes focus came out as f*ckus. You always knew a player was doing well when he had great f*ckus. I remember once him talking about that saying it didn’t matter how he said the word focus, because we knew what he was talking about.
I know reading this that I am making Ozzie out to be a perfect person, but I know he is not, He did however, treat Tom and I great. I, for one, appreciate that.
It’s the end of an ERA in Chicago, but possible a new one in Florida. Get ready Marlin writers, you are in for a great run. Also, don’t forget to get extra batteries for your recorders, and extra pens for your pads. You will need them with all the great quotes you will be soon we getting.
2011, our last day of the spring with the Sox, Tom and I are cruising the back fields of Camelback Ranch. We check out the minor leaguers at the far end, and stop to watch the Major Leaguers on the closer fields. Tom and I are chatting when we hear a loud whistle. We keep talking, hearing the whistle again. We look around, hearing the whistling coming from right in front of us. As I look to the field, I see Ozzie pointing to Tom and I. He waved, and gave us a thumbs up.
Here’s a thumbs up to you Ozzie. Thanks for a great 8 years. You made my job easy, but most of all you made it fun.