I've been upset with Ozzie Guillen all season.
Whether it was the misguided small ball, the frozen-in-carbonite lineups, or his most recent kamikaze take on mid-season contract negotiations, he's been obstinate and unresponsive to pressing issues in a way that made it seem like he had just signed a 35-year extension, rather than being someone needing to stay in the good graces of his employers.
That said, the initial reaction to Ozzie Guillen being released from his contract is immediate sadness.
As someone who inevitably finds themselves investing a great deal of their time and thoughts to this team, Ozzie was someone who could always be counted on to match and exceed you in his commitment. That was, and is appreciated.
As a manager, Guillen achieved the highest heights possible, and brought the White Sox a championship that's been long coveted. That can never stop being appreciated.
But the terrible part about this isn't that the Sox saw one of the heroes of the franchise ushered out with years left on his deal and desire left in his heart, it's that he so deserved it.
The terrible thing has been to watch the seemingly infinite amount of goodwill Guillen accumulated in 2005 crumble away.
Disappointing returns from lauded rosters dismissed the notion that Ozzie could do no wrong, and the deterioration of his relationship with Kenny Williams ate away at his ideal job situation.
This pivotal season witnessed Guillen's trademark reliance on veterans backfire catastrophically on the field, while his success and history with the franchise only emboldened him to resist the adjustments such struggles in a year as an important as this one would typically incite.
He was guiding a doomed ship, and a remarkably expensive of one at that, and wasn't exactly apologetic for stalling to plug the leaks, and least not consistently.
Given the progression of events on Monday, it would seem like Ozzie's defiance in the face of it all was as big of a factor in his departure as any. His demands for an extension were met with inaction, he curiously made his return conditional on the retention of coaches he knew were unwanted, and the announcement of Guillen's release came after what appeared to be a pretty deflating meeting with the Chairman.
Yet, in one last tactless act, Ozzie posted an entry on his personal blog confirming his departure from the White Sox so he could take the managerial job with the Florida Marlins, where he had long been rumored to be headed.
How quickly the post was taken down and his refusal to acknowledge it in his press conference indicate how much of a faux-pas it was for Guillen to detail his arrangement so early, but it also displayed that it was more than a disheartening chat with Reinsdorf that sent Ozzie to Miami. The divorce has been in the works, as indicated by the White Sox rumored progress in already securing a replacement, which South Side Sox previewed.
In which case, with the result in retrospect, it's hard find fault with how the White Sox handled the matter. They neither caved in and threw more money to a manager whose performance was in depreciation, nor let their disagreements with him get in the way that the Marlins were willing to give real live, actual baseball players--however piddling--in return for a man that will never play again. A system like that of the White Sox needs whatever gimmick possible to restock, and this is as good of a trick I can think of.
When reduced to a pure value perspective like that, fretting over a manager seems absurd. Ozzie could never be bigger than the production of his players, and that--along with a refusal to accept that in his strategy--could have as much to do with his current standing as anything. Especially with a squad such as this one.
Highly-revered pitching coach Don Cooper will be retained along with trainer Herm Schneider, so perhaps none of the tangible extra advantage Sox management has been adding over the years is even leaving.
But shifts like at this one go beyond simple roster-building and asset-hoarding. Guillen's presence represented an attempt to maintain continuity from the championship season of '05. If such efforts have rang hollow recently, it's not hard to track how Ozzie has hastened the process by challenging the organization to assess his intrinsic value and come to a hard conclusion.
That's the long view at least, but a season like 2011 might not need even need it. Tasked with his biggest stakes, Guillen suffered his worst failure, and with no credit to his name he asked for his due reward. Whether it was a blatant attempt to get out, or a no-risk bet knowing the years he wanted were waiting in Florida, Ozzie got what he'd agree he deserved.
"They should fire me. I had a great team and they played like s***. They have all the right to move on. I take that responsibility."
One more fall onto the sword on his way out, for old time's sake.