I’m going to tell you a hypothetical story about a guy you knew named Greg.
Everybody liked Greg. Greg was one of those guys who didn’t like playing by other people’s rules. He did what he wanted, when he wanted. He didn’t care what people thought about him, and used that excuse to talk crap about people behind their backs as well as to their faces.
On the surface, Greg was a cool dude. He was super-fun to hang out with, and was a breath of fresh air in comparison to all the other squares you knew who filled the boring square holes in your life.
He threw out parking tickets and he shoplifted. He would regale you with his stories of traveling abroad and that time he hitchhiked to Burning Man. He would tell people at bars he was a veteran just to get free drinks. He was the personification of a Zooey Deschanel movie.
But, as you hung out with Greg more and more, your opinion of him changed. He started coming off as caustic and mean-spirited. His constant “no one tells me what to do!” attitude started to seem less like an admirable credo, and more like an excuse to avoid being a decent human being. He wasn’t blunt, he was just mean. His shine had worn off. You pitied him more than you admired him. You’d had enough.
In short, Greg was a jerk.
Everyone has known a Greg in one way or another. Maybe you knew Greg through a mutual friend. Maybe he was in your fraternity. Maybe you dated Greg. But you can picture him in your head right now, and you are shaking your head in disbelief at the shear fact you admired him whatsoever.
This is the point I’ve hit with Ozzie Guillen.
Since his entrance as a major-league manager in 2004, Guillen has been ruffling feathers. He’s called out his own players, other team’s players, other team’s managers, his own general manager, the umpires, the media, and probably his own mother at some point. But people loved him. They loved that he didn’t pull any punches, that he spoke his mind. Beat writers flocked to him because he was always good for a quote, even if a decent amount of redacting had to be employed. He was a brash, in your face, acerbic, and a firecracker.
Funny thing is, all those adjectives are synonyms for “asshole.”
I used to find Guillen fairly innocuous for the most part. I knew he was a little bananas, but his antics never really bothered me. I didn’t get worked up by him one way or the other, until recently. For whatever reason, it all came to a head yesterday with the whole Bryce Harper situation.
And that’s the thing! It shouldn’t even have been a situation. There was no situation on which to have an opinion or to make an argument.
But he made it a situation, because Ozzie Guillen is a child.
I guess he figured he hadn’t been the center of attention recently, so he decided to create a non-story simply to stroke his ego. This reeks of a jealous toddler acting up because the grown-ups are paying attention to someone else.
And do not confuse Gullien’s actions with the idiosyncrasies of some great manager. These are not the actions of some kooky baseball mastermind. Guillen is not some tortured genius. He’s not even that great of a manager, frankly. He’s got a .521 winning percentage. Big whoop. He won a World Series early in his career, but his team has only finished first in a fairly weak division one year since then. He’s not Connie Mack or Bobby Cox or Sparky Anderson. Guillen’s just a loudmouth slightly-better-than-average manager who has some insatiable need to be in the spotlight more than he deserves.
I know I’m not the first person to realize all of this. But I feel like the moment you realize you just don’t like Ozzie Guillen is an important one in a baseball fan’s life. You’ve turned a corner. You advanced. You’ve gained awareness.
It’s like the time you realized Greg was a douche. You weren’t the first to realize it, but it felt good when you did. You’d grown as a person.
People will always love Ozzie because he represents what most baseball managers aren’t. He’s not a soft-spoken, grey-haired white dude that minds his business. He’s ornery, and loud, and opinionated. But if you look a little closer, you’ll see.
He’s also kind of a shithead.