Ozzie Guillen is irrepressible. If you throw a microphone in his face, he is likely to say something awesome. That's a vague definition, we realize, but it's true: Whether he's swearing or saying something ridiculous about the Cubs or saying he's going to make his players bunt until they can't bunt anymore, Guillen's press conferences are the perfect mix of self-awareness, hilarity, and insanity.
Which is why we're glad Guillen is back in front of said microphone, answering questions, talking to the media, laughing about stuff that's probably not inherently funny -- this is what Ozzie does. And it's why, friend or foe, we love him for it. (Aside: There are actually some people who hate Ozzie. Can you believe this? Even Cubs fans should enjoy this man. He is pure gold.) Anyway, it's early in 2009, and already Oz is in fine form:
Nationally, thanks to ''SportsCenter'' clips and newspaper snippets, Guillen is viewed as, what's the word? ''Crazy,'' he offered. Not that he's complaining. ''[Bleep] them,'' Guillen said. ''I care about what people in Chicago think. That doesn't bother me; it makes me more famous. Every time on TV when people rip me, I say, 'Another minute of fame.' I laugh.''
And that's what he's doing over the latest Baseball Prospectus forecast, which is calling for a last-place finish for the Sox. ''The only time we were picked to finish in first place [in 2006], we finished third,'' Guillen said. ''We've got a good-enough ballclub not to finish last. How many teams do we have in our division, five? If we finish fourth, I might ask for a raise.''
Apologies for the long blockquote, but it's good the last drop, isn't it? Ozzie Guillen and Jay Mariotti now have the same response to criticism: the "more famous" angle. As Tracy Jordan would say, the mentor has become the manatee.
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.