ST. LOUIS The Marlins wanted neon lights and art deco flash. They wanted the hurricane Ozzie Guillen would bring from the South Side, to create buzz and sell tickets. The celebrity manager would become the face of the (bleeping) franchise.
Guillen will return from his five-game suspension on Tuesday at Marlins Park, trying to repair his image after his comments to TIME magazine enraged Miamis Cuban community.
The Chicago media got used to his rapid-fire commentary in the White Sox dugout and loved his brutal honesty. But Guillen cant erase this quote: I love Fidel Castro.
By Sunday, Cubs manager Dale Sveum hadnt yet heard from Major League Baseball about any possible security details for the visiting team in Little Havana.
Im sure theres going to be protesters, Sveum said. Obviously, thats going to happen. Whether its a lot or a few, who knows?
All one player wanted to know was whether Snowflake made it to the new stadium. He walked across the room quoting Ace Ventura, while another immediately started squawking like a dolphin.
Yes, the Cubs are feeling pretty loose, walled off from the clubhouse distractions that have taken up so much oxygen across the past few years. And they get to enjoy an off-day by the beach on Monday in Miami.
Were not too worried about it, outfielder Reed Johnson said. We cant really assume whats going to happen there when Ozzie comes back. It could go a couple different ways. So we just got to go out and take care of our own business. Thats what were focused on right now.
Miamis new stadium features an aquarium behind home plate and a colorful sculpture in center field thats supposed to light up and twirl fish whenever the Marlins hit home runs. Its the scenery for a reality show filmed by Showtime.
The Cubs are happy to let another team become a three-ring circus.
As soon as Theo Epstein took over at Clark and Addison, the team president set out to change the culture. That meant sending Carlos Zambrano and more than 15 million to the Marlins for pitcher Chris Volstad.
Zambrano waived his no-trade clause to play for Guillen, his friend from Venezuela. There was no way he could return to this clubhouse after walking out on his teammates last August.
It would have been great theater, but Zambrano is not scheduled to face his old team in this three-game series. Hes got two no-decisions so far, a 3.75 ERA and a 10:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12 innings this season.
Its hard to comment, because I wasnt here, Sveum said. You see things and you hear about certain things. You hear what kind of good guy he was in the clubhouse. Guys liked him, but he would just obviously go off the handle a little bit once in awhile.
Personally, I cant even comment because I dont really know him that well, besides a phone call after I got the job. But, obviously, hes had some really good years and hes a heck of a pitcher.
The day after Zambrano cleaned out his locker in Atlanta, Ryan Dempster said: Hes made his bed. Hes got to sleep in it. Dempster will get the start on Tuesday, but he doesnt want to rehash the past or analyze what it will mean in Miami.
Dempster played parts of five seasons with the Marlins, including 2002, when Guillen was their third-base coach. Dempster knows what hell be asked about postgame, but right now hes concentrating on the Marlins lineup.
Ill take that challenge on first, and then worry about the other stuff after, Dempster said. To be dead honest with you, I know you might find that hard to believe, but I havent really been paying much attention.
Im trying to just narrow my focus down. Im doing what I can to get ready for my start. I havent been picking up papers or really watching much SportsCenter.
The Cubs should know that theyre stepping into a national media storm. At least this time they could be the calm at the center. Just ask the manager whose emotions always appear to be on a flat line.
Id imagine theres going to be a few extra people down there. Theres no question about it, Sveum said. Its an unfortunate incident that happened. Hopefully it goes away pretty quick, but its not going to go away when were there.