I was driving a friend to a Big & Tall store in Orland Park, when we heard a press conference on the radio, back in November 2003. Ozzie Guillen had just been hired to manage the White Sox. While my friend was skeptical, I turned to him and said, "Now the White Sox will win the World Series".
Of course my friend laughed and thought I was a little crazier than usual. I was dead serious and within two seasons, my prophetic statement had come true.
The next six seasons were about pursuing a repeat of that magical season, where everything went right. There were good teams in that time. Some overachieved and came up short, others fell apart when it counted, and others underachieved to an astonishing degree, which proves that no matter how good things look on paper, the human element always trumps the best laid plans.
Love him or hate him, everyone can agree that Ozzie Guillen was never boring. He was truthful, sometimes to a fault. He tried to deflect the media's wrath away from his players. Ozzie was a protector, in that respect.
The events of tonight have been building for a long time. The timing of everything is odd. With only two games left, Ozzie wanted (and was granted) his release. Rather than manage two more games, Ozzie walked away, and presumably Joey Cora will fill in the rest of the season. This is the only part of this release that I find unsettling. Joey Cora is a great baseball mind and would make a great manager, but it feels like Ozzie didn't get exactly what he wanted, so he picked up his ball and asked to go home.
Fortunately for the Sox, the warning signs have been there and plans are in place for 2012. Kenny Williams is tight lipped about the potential plans and that's exactly the way it should be. While Ozzie chewed a reporter out this evening for talking before he was finished speaking, Kenny looked like he was on the verge of tears. I can only imagine what Jerry Reinsdorf was going through today.
It's been a tough season for White Sox fans in 2011. A promising season turned into a bevy of spectacular meltdowns. Changes will be made for 2012, but as to what exactly, we will all have to wait awhile.
So long, Ozzie. It's been a fun ride, but like all fun things, they have to end sometime. I'm glad it lasted as long as it did.