Ozzie Guillen talks about Miami all the time, about going down there and living on a boat and drinking and spending his money and doing all the things Ozzie loves to do. Miami was his personal destiny, and you know what they say about mixing business and pleasure.
Particularly when business is named Jeffrey Loria. He owns the Florida Marlins, the team Ozzie is expected to manage next season after he and the Chicago White Sox parted ways Monday night. The divorce was as amicable as they get after 21 seasons of service as a player and manager, including his leading the franchise to its first championship in 88 years.
The one with Loria might ignite all of South Florida.
It would be odd to talk about the dissolution of a marriage before it commences were this anybody other than Jeffrey Loria and Ozzie Guillen, who together are black pants with a navy blazer. Instead, it's a fait accompli. The only question is how long it will take for the Mouth of South Beach to cause Loria's talking-out-of-turn hazard lights to start blinking.
For Loria, it's a risk well worth taking. Guillen, when motivated, is an excellent manager who can inspire a clubhouse. He's an even better salesman, and as the Marlins open their new stadium next season, they need all the buzz they can manage to engage a region that for two solid decades now hasn't given one-tenth of a hoot about the Marlins.
The attraction for Guillen cannot include working for a control freak, who, this season, has undermined the excellent baseball-operations staff by suggesting he plans to take on more baseball decisions after years of great drafts and acquisitions allowed him to run the Marlins on a skinflint budget. Because heaven knows dealing art and running a baseball club take the same skill set.
Everyone is dispensable to Loria and his stepson, David Samson, who happens to be the team president as well. In their nine years, they have run through five managers. Perhaps the best of all was fired after one year – during which he won National League Manager of the Year no less – because he had the gall to call out Loria for whining at an umpire.
You might've heard of the guy: Joe Girardi.
Loria treats the Marlins like Pravda. Logan Morrison's(notes) amusing Twitter ramblings and outspokenness earned him a demotion to Triple-A this season. Guillen might be managing a rookie-ball team by the end of 2012.
Knowing all of this, Guillen still plans on taking the job, according to numerous reports. Question his cheapness, his treatment of employees, his part in the destruction of the Montreal Expos: Jeffrey Loria is an excellent businessman. First he convinced a group of elected officials to earmark hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds for a stadium from which he's going to reap all the benefits. And now he poached one of baseball's biggest stars – really – for a couple minor leaguers who will head to the White Sox for his rights.
[Related: Minus Ozzie, White Sox in strange new world]
There are benefits for Ozzie. He will get to take credit for the Marlins' increased attendance, even if the new stadium draws the majority of curious fans. He inherits a team with a great core – Mike Stanton(notes), Hanley Ramirez(notes), Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez(notes), Josh Johnson(notes), Anibal Sanchez(notes) and Ricky Nolasco(notes), among others – and a savvy front office led by Larry Beinfest. And go all "Indecent Proposal" with the millions Loria is reportedly willing to pay him for the next four years.
"I want more money," Guillen told reporters during a rambling State of the Oz address before managing his final game. "Life is about money. People are happy when they make a lot of money."
Ozzie really does believe that. That doesn't mean he runs his life chasing it. He could've been paid more elsewhere. He stuck in Chicago because he is a god there, still deified by White Sox fans for winning the World Series even if that was six years ago. He fought with Kenny Williams, the general manager who Monday won the longest power struggle in sports, and he fought with owner Jerry Reinsdorf about being able to launch his personal website, and he stuck around anyway because this was the right place for him.
Perhaps Miami can be. Maybe Ozzie and Loria turn into the new Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner, a love-hate relationship that somehow works. And the stadium actually draws beyond the first weekend. And … aw, hell. Who are we kidding? Ozzie should ask for a prenup.
Because the only manager who has lived to tell about Loria is Jack McKeon, and not even Loria is cruel enough to fire an octogenarian. McKeon, the Marlins' interim manager, will step aside this week and hand the reins to the Guillen, who fell prey to Miami just like another famous alpha male.
First LeBron James took his talents to South Beach. Now Ozzie gets to take his to Little Havana to manage at a new stadium in the wrong neighborhood for a team recently in neutral with an owner who's bound to cause problems.
Just more fodder for a brand-new episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Jeffrey, coming to baseball diamonds this spring and divorce court soon thereafter.
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- Jeffrey Loria
- Ozzie Guillen