Apr 14, 2021 12 min read

Ozzie Guillen talks about managing again, making up with Magglio and 'Being Guillen'

Ozzie Guillen talks about managing again, making up with Magglio and 'Being Guillen'

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At 57 years old, Ozzie Guillen is still keeping very busy — analyzing the Sox on NBC Sports Chicago during pregame and postgame; bantering with his sons about baseball and life on the "Being Guillen" podcast; and being a grandfather to the newest Guillen generation. But make no mistake, Guillen would love to manage in the majors again. Or maybe he would just like to be asked. Thanks to Goose Island and La Vida Baseball for helping Midway Minute corral one of only three men in history (and the only one in the last 104 years) to manage the White Sox to a World Series title.

Midway Minute: So you got your COVID vaccine. How'd it go?

Ozzie: It's been good so far, the reaction. I wanted to do it finally because I had surgery a few weeks ago. I think people should do it, to be clear. If you don't want to do it for yourself, that's fine, but you have to care about other people.

MM: You had surgery a few weeks ago?

Ozzie: I did. I had a kidney stone. But it's fine. I went through that, like, three times already. That was bad. It was a bigger surgery than before.

MM: Ouch.

Ozzie: That's very ouch. They went straight through the penis and they put the laser on it. I feel better now. Thank God.

MM: Why aren't you managing a major league team right now?

Ozzie: What team, hahaha?

MM: Any team.

Ozzie: You know? I don't know. They're going through a wave right now of certain guys. I'm surprised nobody will talk to me yet. That surprised me. I'm not the same guy that I was 10 years ago. I've obviously grown up. I know the game better than I did then. I know more about baseball, from watching the game and working on TV. I think it's helped, especially working for ESPN, preparing to talk with and talk about all of the different teams. I've spent a lot of time listening.

If another managing job is coming, that's great, but if not, that's just part of life. I do want to come back; I feel I'm better prepared to come back. We will wait. But I do love the life I have right now, I love working on TV, but I don't know how long long I'm gonna stay working on TV. Right now I have time to see my family, my grandkids; I have two of them, a boy and a girl.

The way it is now, I still feel I'm in the game. I'm talking about the game. I have great people around me at NBC Sports Chicago and they've been great with me. The people behind the cameras have been very helpful and professional. When you love to go to work and you always have a smile when you get in, it is something that is hard to do.

When you're a manager, you're always going to have problems. Always. Even when you win a championship, there's always something going on — with a player, with the owner, with fans. Yes, it's fun. But it's not an easy gig.

MM: TV doesn't seem like it's easy though.

Ozzie: Oh, it's hard. You know that English is my second language. You have to make it so people understand what you say. Sometimes you have enough time to say something, but other times you don't and you have to be very careful. On TV, you say something and some people disagree, you can hurt their feelings, get in trouble and lose your job. Managing is different. You do your job and if you say something when you talk to the media that gets someone else upset, you're still the manager. I think, right now, working on TV is harder than it is to manage (baseball).

MM: If you still want to manage next year, in two years, you think being on TV will have helped?

Ozzie: A lot of managers have gone through TV to get their manager jobs. Alex Cora is one. I don't want to do it that way. Yes, TV has helped me out like I said, but if you're running a club and you want to know about me, I want to get an interview and talk about it face to face. That's how you find out about me, if you have questions.

One thing that I have learned: It's not always the best thing to be 100 percent honest. Because people like to hear what they want to hear sometimes. And they don't want to hear the truth. When I left Venezuela for this country, my dad told me, "Be honest no matter what. Show them that. Honesty will get you where you're going." But sometimes I feel like going back and telling my dad he was wrong. When you're honest in this country, some people won't like it. They don't like their feelings hurt.

MM: Did you find this out with the Sox?

Ozzie: Yes. When I got the job with a White Sox, they'd say, "We love Ozzie because he's so honest." All of the sudden, a few years later, they hate my honesty. Sometimes I sit down with my kids and we listen to old interviews I did and they go, "How did you get away with that shit?!"

MM: As a manager, is the worst thing you've ever done just something that you said?

Ozzie: I keep my head up because I think my balance is more positive than negative. As a player or manager, you never heard anything about Ozzie on the field using a corked bat, doing drugs, drinking and driving, beating their wife, cheating for the hitters. Not paying taxes. I put my kids in college. Everything I've done... in baseball you can have used the juice, or taken an illegal supplement to play baseball. All of the stuff going around in baseball, they can check my background and nobody says nothing to me. People say, "He's a talker!" I've been married for 38 years, with the same woman for 43 years. I never drink and drive. I never had a fight in any bar, any place I went. People really misunderstand who Ozzie really is. I've never been in trouble with anyone in my life. I've never had to talk to MLB about being disciplined. I still see other people working when they went through all this stuff. It makes me sad to see these guys who do less than I did in baseball when, if anybody ever asks, all I did was 1,000 percent tell the truth.

MM: Has anyone asked you to be a bench coach or a third base coach?

Ozzie: I would love to, but it would have to be in Chicago. And it probably would be the White Sox. Coaching on the field is a lot of work and they are very underpaid. The culture there means you have to be there at 1 o'clock in the afternoon to whenever the game's over. You have to stay overtime for meetings and they don't pay anything. And all the blame is on you. I would rather continue to have this job. People like what I do.

I do like to coach. I can teach baseball with my eyes closed. Old school, new school. Any system. I'm not saying I know it all, because nobody does, but I have a good conversation about it when I need to.

I think the best thing I did in the game besides playing shortstop was coaching third base with the Marlins. I had fun, I was part of the game, but I had nothing to do with media, didn't have to deal with players' problems. I'm not going to say no, never, with coaching. But my situation now is a little bit different. My wife, she's in her 50s like me, I don't know if she wants me to go back on the field to coach. We have the grandkids. I have a chance to see them grow up.

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MM: We heard a story about a fan going up to you one time in Chicago, at a club, early in the morning. You were managing the Sox. You might have been in the bathroom peeing. And he might have started a chant: "Oz-zie, Oz-zie, Oz-zie!" As you were at a urinal! Do you remember this or something like it happening?

Ozzie: That happened a lot. People will do it when I play golf. I feel so lucky to be in this town and people still respect me, love me and remember me. That don't happen to too many people. You should have to be a super-superstar to be remembered in Chicago and I'm not there. You talk about Frank Thomas, Michael Jordan, Harold Baines, and I'm not even close to these guys. But people still see me in the street and they show respect and love. Nobody can take that away from you. When they say they respect the way you play for us, or manage for us, that makes my life

MM: If all Sox fans could speak Spanish, would you be even funnier to them?

Ozzie: I am a funny guy. On TV off the record I've got all my colleagues laughing. I can't say on TV everything I say around people. But yeah, I consider myself a funny guy when you have to be. But I'm shy, if I don't know who all is around me. As soon as I know the people around me, everything goes awesome. If I go to eat somewhere or play golf around people I don't know, I get shy, but as soon as I know who's there, I get funny.

MM: How competitive is your golf game?

Ozzie: Right now, the last two weeks, it's very bad, hahaha. I usually enjoy golf, but my one son, Oney, told his mom he was worried because I wasn't enjoying the game. But I'm not a pro. It's not how I make my money or feed my family. I told my wife that I'm not going to get upset at golf anymore. I'm going to have fun.

MM: Do you still keep in touch with the 2005 team?

Ozzie: Almost everybody. I talked to (Mark) Buehrle last night. I talk to AJ (Pierzynski). I talk to  (Jon) Garland, JD (Jermaine Dye). Most of the guys beside the Dominican guys — it's hard to find those guys, hahaha. I just spent a week with Freddy Garcia. I talked a little bit to Joe Crede. Most of the time, when you get fired and go to another team, you don't keep up with the guys that much. I'm not going to say that I talk to them everyday, but I talk to them a lot and it's always very respectful and happy. Remember, they were my kids for a few years and they know they have a father figure here. They know they have a friend. But they also know they have a guy who tried to make them do whatever they could to be the best.

MM: You said you can't find the Dominican guys?

Ozzie: It's hard, hahaha. When they're in the D.R., they disappear, they go to their house and they don't say anything. But I find them.

MM: Why do people like Juan Uribe so much?

Ozzie: He's a one of a kind. That's the funniest man. He plays hard, he plays good. He cares about his teammates. He might be the most famous and most loyal guy in any place he plays.

MM: He didn't always know everybody's name.

Ozzie: He don't know anybody's name. Anyone. I don't think he knows his own name.

MM: When's the last time you talked to Magglio Ordoñez?

Ozzie: Last year in Venezuela, Magglio went to my house. We had a party for a mutual friend. We ended up getting shit-faced.

MM: So you guys get along OK? There was a time...

Ozzie: I (almost) always got along with Magglio. The problem we had was when he said some stuff I didn't like. And I didn't hold back. He was talking about my ball club and talking about my trainer. That's why I went on with him. You don't talk about my trainer and the people in the organization who help me win. It's one thing to say something about Ozzie Guillen, but don't say anything about the people around me. You do, and I'll take it the way it should be taken.

MM: You're obviously past it.

Ozzie: Oh, yeah. We talk a lot. Magglio's a good kid. We were talking about him yesterday, me and Frank, off the record when weren't on TV. We talked about, like, when we play his ballclub in winter league, how fun that is. He'll stop by my office and have a drink after the game. I mean, he said what he had to say, and I said what I had to say. It spiraled but it's over. Part of life.

MM: Why are things so bad in Venezuela right now?

Ozzie: We've had the wrong people for a long, long time taking care of the country. It's not just right now. I'm 57 and since I was born, we've had the wrong people manage the country. We got to the point where we really touched the bottom and I don't see any hope. The Venezuelan people have hope, but I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

MM: That's really sad. We worry about the way things are going in the United States but I don't know if it could ever get like that here.

Ozzie: Believe me, if people in the United States feel bad about how a thing is here, they haven't seen anything yet. Because they don't leave the country. As soon as they do, and see another country, they'll figure out how good they have it here. Even though it's not a perfect country. But people here, they don't know what they have.

MM: If Tony La Russa and Hawk Harrelson arm wrestled right now, who would win?

Ozzie: Holy cow. They're going to be very tired. They're both so old, hahaha. I love and have respect for both of them. Within the size of each one's job, they're amazing. Two Hall of Famers. What else can you say?

People ask me how I'll be with Tony (on TV) because I played for him and I said, "No, I'm only going to be more honest." He's a human being who makes mistakes and I'm not going to treat him any differently than anyone else.

MM: What's the best Goose Island beverage to watch a Sox game with?

Ozzie: Oh, they gave me a beer with lemonade that was outstanding. I've got two cases of that beer in my house. The Shandy. It's pretty good, wow.

MM: Will there be people in the audience for "Being Guillen" once we make more progress on the pandemic?

Ozzie: It would be our honor. It would be awesome to start taking questions from a live audience. I think we have a good show because we have three distinct opinions about baseball. We don't always agree with each other. And we talk about not just baseball but what's going on in life. What you see and hear on the show, on the podcast, is how we are at home.

MM: What do you think of Yermín Mercedes so far?

Ozzie: He's a lucky man; a couple guys got hurt, the Corona year has made things weird. But I almost cried on the set because of how he got to the majors. It's not so much how well he's doing now but what his journey was. It's one of the best histories I've heard from anybody. Most of the kids quit and go home. Most would say, "I'm done with this, it's too much for me." But he keeps up the fight and it's the beginning of making his dreams come true.

MM: You accidentally gave Mercedes the nickname "Yermín Garfield," because you autocorrected from (Chuck) "Garfien." They have similar hair. But is there anything else about Yermín that reminds you of the cartoon cat?

Ozzie: No, I didn't mean to misspell that. I've only got sixth grade education — so I'm lucky to get right what I get right.

Thanks to Ozzie for making the time. If you're a Chicago sports fan who enjoys good content like this interview, click here to sign up for Midway Minute. It's free and arrives in your inbox every weekday morning.

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Longtime Chicago guy. A professional writer and editor since 1998. Member of Baseball Writers Association of America since 2013.

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