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CBSSports.com Senior Baseball Columnist

ChiSox's loss with Ozzie figures to make Marlins relevant


Ozzie on leaving the White Sox: 'My picture's up on the wall. I hope they don't take it down.' (Getty Images)  
Ozzie on leaving the White Sox: 'My picture's up on the wall. I hope they don't take it down.' (Getty Images)  

Talk about one hell of a housewarming gift.

Will Ozzie Guillen's mouth really fit inside of the Florida Marlins' new ballpark/aquarium? Will folks actually start paying attention to the Marlins? Heck, will folks actually start watching the Marlins?

It's reportedly done but things have fallen apart at the last minute before for Florida owner Jeffrey Loria. (See Valentine, Bobby.)

But it appears Chicago's Mouth of the South (Side) will become the Mouth of the South (Period). Ozzie Guillen trades in his Pale Hose for a fish tank.

The Marlins reportedly are trading Osvaldo Martinez and a minor leaguer to the ChiSox, and the bet here is they introduce Guillen as their new skipper Wednesday as they close baseball down for good in the Dolphins' football stadium.

In Chicago, this was a breakup that has been two years in the making, from the time the bitter feud between Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams had to be refereed by Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf a year ago to the bitterly disappointing 2011 season.

The relationship between Ozzie and Kenny was irreparably broken long ago, and during the past several weeks there has been outright hostility from Guillen and his staff up the chain of command. Williams, according to sources, fired hitting coach Greg Walker several weeks ago. Walker challenged him, Reinsdorf interceded, and the Good Ship White Sox listed onward.

That was only the tip of the iceberg, during the crash. Something was going to give. Something had to give.

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And whaddaya know, the Marlins showed up at just the right time.

Guillen coached on Florida's staff before the ChiSox named him manager in 2004. That's where Loria developed such an affinity for Ozzie. The fact that Guillen coached third base for the 2003 Marlins club that whipped the Yankees in the World Series cemented Loria's crush into true love.

The Marlins took a run at Guillen a year ago, according to sources with knowledge of the talks, and during those negotiations, the White Sox asked for Logan Morrison, then a top Marlins prospect. Florida said no.

The Marlins inquired again, sources say, earlier this summer around the time Edwin Rodriguez became their latest ex-manager. Talks then gained little traction. The ChiSox season hadn't yet imploded.

After years of Pauper-dom, after pocketing so much revenue-sharing money the players' union finally cried foul two winters ago, after the momentum he tried to create this summer to take into the new park disintegrated into so much pixie dust, Loria finally is ready to play ball.

Word is, he might jack up the payroll enough this winter to afford an Albert Pujols or a Jose Reyes. Having failed to generate momentum to sell tickets to the new joint, Loria is desperate to find a way to make the Marlins relevant.

With 80-year-old Jack McKeon tucking in the NL East's last-place team, they're nowhere close.

Enter Ozzie.

And, presto, Chicago's Civil War ends not with a bang, but ... hang on, I think Ozzie's tweeting something.

The take-away line from Guillen's farewell press conference Monday night was him saying this:

"We won the World Series [in 2005] not because of Ozzie Guillen. We won the World Series because we had great players and a pretty good front office."

Zing. A pretty good front office?

They'll always have '05, Ozzie, Kenny and the original Don't Stop Believin' gang. Guillen and his players were so touched to have finally won a World Series for Reinsdorf, whose ownership goes way back to when Guillen was Chicago's starting shortstop.

"I'm Jerry's friend forever," Guillen said during his press conference Monday night. "This is a business move, and it's not going to change that relationship."

Guillen, the only living man to manage the White Sox to a World Series title, was alternately funny and poignant in his farewell.

Poignant: "No regrets" and "I'm very disappointed in this year, yes. A lot disappointed" and "I enjoy being second-guessed because that makes me a better manager and a better person."

Funny: "My picture's up on the wall. I hope they don't take it down."

Being that, before Ozzie, the ChiSox hadn't won a World Series since 1917, surely the picture will stay at U.S. Cellular Field. Maybe even most of them. Erase Ozzie, you erase '05. Whatever you say about him now, he directed the best White Sox baseball moments in several generations in '05.

"The best-laid plans don't always go the way you lay them," Chicago's classy first baseman Paul Konerko told me a month ago, speaking generally of this train-wreck of a Sox season. "As players, we understand how fragile things are."

For so long around there, Guillen was the furthest thing from fragile. Still is. But there comes a time for everything -- and everyone -- and given the underachievement and the constant chaos, the time is right for the Sox to start fresh and for Ozzie to start over.

Florida? The man won't have half the stage he had in the City of Broad Shoulders. But he has a no-longer-secret admirer in Loria (as long as Guillen doesn't go down Joe Girardi's path and tell the owner to "Shut the f--- up" when Loria embarrasses the dugout by screaming too loudly at the umpires). And he has Hanley Ramirez, and Mike Stanton, and maybe by next year a healthy Josh Johnson and, heck, even Morrison.

The Marlins immediately become far more exciting the moment they land Guillen, and look out: They could even win. Immediately.

And there's one other thing: With Guillen and Morrison together in the same clubhouse, the tweets rocketing out of there will be hell on wheels.

Morrison's the guy who, after McKeon took over this season, tweeted that he told the new/old skipper he was headed home to "play with Twitter" and McKeon asked, "Oh, what kind of dog is it?"

Monday night, Morrison fired this into the Twitter-sphere: "Bienvenido a Miami @OzzieGuillen?"

Bienvenido, indeed. And Adios.


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