Ozzie Guillen will be the new manager of the Florida Marlins. Official confirmation came at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, but everyone in sports already was aware that Guillen is moving from the South Side to South Beach.
The World Series-winning manager had let the news slip in a briefly posted blog on his website. The post was removed, but the word was out.
There’s no question Guillen’s career has been defined by his time with the White Sox -- first by his 13 season as a player, from his Rookie-of-the-Year debut season in 1985 through 1997, and then by his eight-year stint as manager, during which he brought the team its first World Series in 88 years.
But the truth is – except for perhaps White Sox fans – it’s not hard to imagine Guillen managing in Miami.
With Florida, Guillen gets a new beginning. He has the opportunity to create an identity that the team has been unable to craft thus far, despite winning two World Series titles in the last decade and a half (1997 and 2003).
For years, the Marlins have struggled with attendance, finishing 28 out of 30 MLB teams this season. Guillen, based on personality alone, will inject a new level of excitement and bring media attention to the team in a way that retiring manager Jack McKeon never could.
Guillen brings to Miami the kind of fan following few managers can muster, not to mention a substantial Twitter following.
The outspoken manager will provide a much-needed bump for the Marlins as the team moves into its new ballpark in 2012.
There’s the intangible benefit of having a Latino manager in the most Hispanic metropolitan area in the country. According to the 2010 Census, 65 percent of the residents of Miami-Dade County were identified as Hispanic or Latino. From a Hispanic marketing perspective, Guillen certainly won’t hurt.
More than a quarter of the Marlins’ current roster was born in Latin America, and there comes an obvious value in having a manager that literally speaks his players’ language.
Of course, for all the buzz Guillen will bring, Ozzie being Ozzie alone isn’t going to be enough.
Sometimes, for the White Sox, the manager’s larger-than-life persona was too much. How will his approach go over with the Marlins?
Florida team president David Sampson was displeased with outfielder Logan Morrison’s Twitter postings earlier this season, so there certainly could be the potential for conflict.
However, as talked about as Guillen’s social media activities have been, he’s not necessarily pushing the envelope on that front the way he has in traditional media.
In managing the Marlins, Guillen will inherit a team traditionally among the least experienced in baseball. The Marlins were the third-youngest team in the league this season. By contrast, during his tenure with the White Sox, Guillen had the fortune of managing relatively veteran teams.
The Marlins have had success when reaching the postseason (two appearances, two rings), but the team has not made the playoffs in eight years and counting. And at the end of the season, no matter what personality Guillen brings to the team, wins and losses are what matter most.
Still, with Guillen at the helm, if nothing else, the Marlins will be a lot more fun to watch.
Maria Burns Ortiz is a freelance sports journalist, chair of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Sports Task Force, and a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow her on Twitter: @BurnsOrtiz