09/30/08 11:48 PM ET
Guillen becoming an icon of the game
White Sox manager building legacy with trademark intensity
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- During a recent episode of MAD TV, the long-running sketch-comedy show on FOX, a skit was done portraying a postgame press conference with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
There also is an intense side to Guillen, as seen through his verbal volleys thrown at times toward the media, the opposition and certainly his own players. It was on display during Friday night's disappointing loss at home to the Indians, when Guillen excused himself from the dugout, went into his office and broke a few pictures hanging on his wall.
In five years in charge of the White Sox, Guillen has filled numerous reporters' notebooks. He also pushed his team to above-.500 finishes in every season but 2007 and had the White Sox in contention for the American League Central title in all but last year's debacle.Through all of his entertaining quotes, which a couple of enterprising individuals having assembled into books, Guillen never has received the deserved credit as a truly astute baseball man. Leading the White Sox into contention in 2008 and then capturing their second AL Central crown in four years might be more of a testament to Guillen's leadership than the 2005 World Series title. He has navigated key injuries to Carlos Quentin, Joe Crede, Jose Contreras, Scott Linebrink and Paul Konerko, not to mention prolonged offensive slumps and bouts of ineffectiveness from the bullpen. In typical Guillen fashion, he played more to the entertainment side while expressing his heartfelt feelings when asked if this race to the season's final days had been fun. "No! No! No! I don't know, I'd rather be in last place than this," said Guillen with a laugh. "This is something I was looking for, because nobody thought we would be here. It's fun for the players, not for us. "This is a lot of stress. A lot of stress. This is something I feel like when people go to the Olympics. You practice for four years, and all of a sudden, the first shot you get knocked down, you have to wait for four more years. We feel the same way." Under Guillen's leadership, working in conjunction with an aggressive and knowledgeable general manager such as Ken Williams, it's unlikely the White Sox will have to wait that long for their next shot at contending. But Guillen's focus remains on 2008. There's no question Guillen loves to entertain, as the self-expressed leader of this team. He joked on Saturday that if the White Sox lost out to Minnesota, he might drive to Milwaukee and fly home out of Billy Mitchell Airport in order to avoid running into disappointed White Sox fans at Chicago airports. You see, Guillen's first priority is to win and win for the fans and team he once played for. "Second place is the first loser, and I said that when I was losing," Guillen said. "It [doesn't] matter if you finish last. It's good, because you're playing for something, but you gonna go home the same way -- maybe with different feelings."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.