Column: Ozzfest

By Nathan Grimm

W atching the White Sox plow through their postseason opponents, one minor question arises from the ashes of what used to be the Anaheim Angels: Who is this guy?

With the 2005 White Sox, “this guy” could be any one of about, well, 40 players on the 40-man roster.

But “this guy” of whom I speak isn’t the guy on first base blasting moon shots or the guy in left field stealing everything in sight. No, “this guy” is none other than the manager of the best team in the American League.

Ozzie Guillen, at first glance, doesn’t stand out from the crowd of players in the dugout wearing the white and black uniforms. In fact, Roger Clemens is actually older than Guillen. Guillen should be facing Clemens in the batter’s box, not managing against him from the bench.

So how does this guy do it, exactly? How does he, in his second year as a full-time manager, take a team left for dead to the brink of a World Series championship? Honestly, I have absolutely no idea.

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    In trying to come up with a metaphor that describes this year’s White Sox, the one thing that keeps coming to mind is a circus act. The team that doesn’t ever take itself too seriously. And Guillen’s driving the tiny car.

    Watching TV the other day, I happened to catch a replay of Guillen making the walk to the mound to relieve his pitcher. When signaling to the bullpen, he started making gestures with his hands.

    Thinking Guillen was playing charades with his bullpen coach, I excitedly started trying to guess what he was gesturing. One word? Large? Wide? Hot air balloon? Rocky Mountains?

    To my dismay, it was none of those. Guillen was actually calling for the big boy, closer Bobby Jenks. But it’s not every day you see Joe Torre or Frank Robinson make their walk out to change pitchers and start playing Pictionary right there on the mound. Guillen’s cut from a different fabric.

    Guillen is the crazy uncle at family gatherings that breaks into tune, spontaneously, because the word “nun chucks” reminds him of a song only he and three other people in the world know the words to. Don’t have an uncle like that? Yeah…me neither.

    Guillen should be coaching little league somewhere, having a Gatorade and a Snickers with his team after the game. Instead, he’s within an arm’s length of claiming the first World Championship for the south side since 1917. He manages with a strange mix of passion and adolescence that can’t be taught. And it’s working to perfection.

    He jokes around with the opposing players during warm-ups before a playoff game. His steal sign has consisted of waving his arms toward second base.

    Guillen is good for baseball. In a sport being dominated more and more by huge contracts and massive payrolls, sometimes it takes an off-the-wall personality to bring us back down.

    The Ozzie Guillens of the world serve as reminders of what the game should be like. Too much is taken too seriously by sports fans, myself included. It’s good to see someone who’s got it right.

    Whether or not the Sox win it all, Guillen has made his impression on baseball. And if he ever gets tired of managing, he can always trade in his cleats for a pair of size 32 clown shoes.

    Nathan Grimm is a sophomore in ALS. He can be reached at [email protected].