Guillen out: Ozzie manages last game with Sox

Guillen out: Ozzie manages last game with Sox
September 27, 2011, 12:56 am
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Monday, Sept. 26, 2011Posted: 7:56 p.m. Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2:15 a.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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Ozzie Guillens career with the White Sox came to a sudden and crashing end, with speed gathering throughout a Chicago win that quickly became an afterthought.

Pregame promise

After a pregame session that seemed to proffer some hope that the team and Guillen may still remain married despite the manager refusing to back down from his demand for more money and years from the White Sox, the divorce proceedings began.

The chronically honest Guillen played a fairly good poker hand in the dugout, joking that players should wear Save Ozzie shirts and discussing his demands to owner Jerry Reinsdorf during their Monday morning meeting calmly and cogently.

WATCH: Ozzie's pregame press conference
But later, after the game, Ozzie admitted that he knew right away that he wouldnt be coming back to the White Sox after meeting with the owner, who he has alternately considered a father and a god.

In-game twists

At midgame, the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story that Guillen would be managing his last game and was on the verge of being dealt to the Florida Marlins, while ESPN reported that Ozzie had told his team before the game that he was managing his last game.

Still, with no confirmed sources or word from the White Sox, there was too much conjecture to take in. Twitter was set ablaze by the news, and Guillen soon was either being traded, quitting or being fired.

Around the seventh-inning stretch, CSNChicago.com got an inkling that something very real was happening, as it confirmed something going down: Per Ozzies request, there would be a postgame news conference addressing the rumors, where both he and general manager Ken Williams would talk. It was a safe bet the time wouldnt be spent announcing a contract extension.

By games end, the remaining fans cheered not the White Sox 4-3 win but Ozzie, as by then it was well sensed he was leaving the U.S. Cellular diamond for the last time. After the last out, the White Sox distributed a press release confirming the divorce, noting that Guillen was released from his contract and that the club was due compensation if Guillen managed elsewhere in 2012.

The team? Sure, the speculation all pointed to the Florida Marlins, but Guillens Ozzie Speaks blog confirmed it while the ninth inning was still being played.
READ: Ozzie to Marlins? Blog, er, book it

Postgame reaction: Ozzie and Kenny

WATCH: Guillen's full press conference Williams' full press conference

Guillen hit the podium first and was at once effusive and contrite. He indicated he had no regrets about his White Sox career, even if the gilded World Series season of 2005 was thrown out of the mix.

He also reacted with reticence rather than bluster when it came to considering his future away from the White Sox, admitting he was unsure whether it would turn out to be a good move and never quite admitting that the break was necessary for him.

Jerry knew it was a decision I had to make, Guillen said. I appreciate that he did.

Guillen repeated his words from the past week, where he insisted fans not blame anyone but those who wore the White Sox uniform for this disappointing season.

There have been a lot of ups and downs, yes, he said. Its not been fun over the last few years. I went though a lot of things, and I handled them very well. I know I can manage anywhere after this.

Later, away from the field, Ozzie sent out several tweets of appreciation, some singling out Omar Vizquel and others directed more generally.

While Guillen felt he could leave U.S. Cellular Field for the last time with his head held high, Williams felt otherwise, admitting that on Wednesday and seasons end he will feel embarrassed for the deflating 2011 season.

It was an introspective and subdued Williams who addressed the media, sure to place the full focus on honoring Guillen and not steering toward the teams managerial search or even discussing the interim manager to end the season (said to be bench coach Joey Cora, who is likely to follow Ozzie to Florida).

Why did it have to come to this? Williams asked rhetorically. I dont have answers. Its hard to pinpoint where we got off track. Winning cures a lot of that. Were very competitive around here and sometimes you can get frustration building and things go awry that way. Theres never been any doubt of what everyones intentions are here: To win and win in a big way.

Williams admitted that he never envisioned the end of he and Ozzies relationship coming under these circumstances, but he did realize Guillen needed a commitment that the team was unprepared to offer.

Unlike the more vague notion of compensation addressed in the White Sox postgame release, Williams was more succinct in saying there would be compensation due the White Sox if Ozzie manages one particular team in 2012.

Clubhouse reaction
WATCH: Pierzynski sad to see Ozzie goWATCH: Konerko feels Ozzie "got the job done"

It was two of the longest-tenured White Sox who stuck around after 30 minutes of conferences to talk with the media about Guillen.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, much more the ice to Ozzies fire over the course of their seven-year itching, was predictably casual in his contemplation.

It was an interesting day, to say the least, a weird way to start and end the day, he said. You never know whats gonna happen, especially with the White Sox. This is what everybody thought was best. Give credit to Jerry for letting Guillen do what he wants to do. But its never a good day when a manager has to leave.

Paul Konerko, with Guillen for the managers entire White Sox tenure, was moved, but philosophical about the parting.

It probably needed to be done, on both sides, he said. Ozzies been kind of burned out on this whole thing, likewise on the other side. But it doesnt have to be 'one sides right and ones wrong.

While the easy shorthand is to call Guillen a tempestuous, even foolhardy jefe, Pierzynski admired his steadfast consistency: He never let the job get to him. It didnt change him. He had a great run.

Konerko went a step farther, repeating several times that Guillen got it done in winning a title with the White Sox.

In the big picture, he got it done, Konerko said. His coaches got it done. Theyll never be able to take that title away from him.

Both players were touched by Guillens parting, pregame words.

To see him talk, it was sad, Pierzynski said of watching Guillen struggle to thank his players. He will be missed.

He was relieved, more than anything, Konerko said. He struggled a little, and tried to joke the emotion away.

The Captain does foresee a quieter final two years of his contract in 2012 and 2013 under a different field manager, but doesnt regret the ride one bit.

This teams been around for more than 100 years, and Ive been right in the middle of its craziest times, he smiled. Its never been boring.
A personal note

It turns out I picked a good day to say my final goodbye to Ozzie for the season, not knowing it was goodbye for good.

Although I have written a book on Ozzie (the pithy and cogent 2006 tome, The Wit and Wisdom of Ozzie Guilen) still I have never shared with him his impact on me as a young player.

When Guillen was traded to the White Sox prior to 1985, I was still growing into myself as a baseball player, an infielder like him. My father seized on a Jerome Holtzman story about the rookie and highlighted passages of it all Ozzie quotes about his dedication to getting better and proving he was a great addition to the White Sox.

I kept that article for a long time as a player, complete with my fathers notes in the margins.

Last year I gave a Roberto Clemente DVD to Ozzie at seasons end, touching enough for such a big fellow fan but not as personal as my story today. Ozzie indeed was an inspiration to me as a player, and in a strange way, as a White Sox writer.

I dont know what impact the story I shared with Ozzie will have on him as he whirlwinds his way to Miami, but Im happy for having told it, for more than just the reason that after tonight, hes gone from the White Sox for good.

Godspeed, Ozzie.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.