The Return Of Ozzie Guillen

Ozzie Guillen returns to the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, having served his five-game suspension for making favorable comments about Fidel Castro. He'd probably love to put this whole thing behind him. The Marlins would like to put the whole thing behind them. Ninety-five percent of the baseball-loving world would like to put the whole thing behind them.

The whole thing will hang around, thank you very much. It'll be something that harangues Ozzie every time his face is on a Miami television or in a Miami newspaper. This is like the old joke about the guy who wishes he were called John the Dock-builder instead of the name he was given -- sorry, Ozzie. This is what you're known for now.

(An aside: There are five new managers in baseball this year. Robin Ventura is best known for a 16-year-long career that included him getting punched in the head by a player who was as old as Ventura is now. Mike Matheny is best known for his quiet defense and leadership. Dale Sveum is best known for the silent 'v' in his name. The other two guys were best known for being brash and abrasive. Guess which two of the five are in hot water?)

The best sign of how serious the Marlins are taking this (hat-tip to Big League Stew):



The Marlins were proud of their Ozzie Guillen hire. They gave him his own bobblehead day, which they announced in early March. Now the promotion is gone, wiped completely from the current promotional schedule. That leaves 20,000 Ozzie Guillen bobbleheads that will have to be disposed of. Where will they go?

He shudders awake, choking on the the desert air. Forty thousand unblinking eyes are on him. Smiling faces, bobbing in the arid breeze. He jumps back.

"Welcome to your new home, your new life. My name is Manny. All of us -- our name is Manny." His head can't stop bobbing. None of their heads stop bobbing. Their white Rays jerseys reflect the harsh afternoon sun.

"I would like to introduce you to our wives. Honey?"

Twenty thousand Atari 2600 E.T. cartridges wave. Underneath them, thousands of little half-Manny/half-E.T. cartridges run around, playing, their heads bobbing atop a black, rectangular body.

"You're home now. Welcome home."

And for the first time in his life, Ozzie Guillen can't say a word.

This would have been the most awkward promotion since the "Dress Up as Your Favorite Running Back!" promotion that the Buffalo Bills cancelled in June of '94. There will be no bobbleheads for Guillen. No special mentions. He is to manage, and manage only. The Marlins hired him to be a face of the franchise. They got their wish in that weird monkey-paw kind of way.

The difference between Guillen and Bobby Valentine is that Valentine will be forgiven with a 95-win season and a championship. No one will give a rip about what he said about Kevin Youkilis in April if the Red Sox win. There's an out. It might be somewhat unlikely, but there's an out.

There's no out for Guillen. There are protests scheduled for Tuesday night. They might die down before the fourth inning. They might die down before next Friday. Or this might be a thing that the Marlins have to address with an indelicate touch. For the first time in recent memory, a manager is having problems that winning probably isn't going to solve.


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