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Columnist
If Guillen wants out, Sox should let him go
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/26/2010 12:06 AM

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Manny Ramirez packs his own clown suit and traveling carnival wherever he goes.

And on the South Side of Chicago, he'd fit right in.

The circus is always in town with the White Sox, as hardly a day goes by without a sideshow, and almost always courtesy of man- ager Ozzie Guillen.

It is perhaps the most tired act in baseball, Guillen's constant attempts at getting himself fired by making his bosses look bad - with a year and an option remaining on his contract.

The strange part is Guillen alternates between saying he loves Jerry Reinsdorf like a father - and would never want to work for anyone else - and then doing everything he can to make Reinsdorf's front office look stupid, begging Reinsdorf to whack him.

That's just two of the three faces of Ozzie. There's also the World Series-winning field boss who deserves Manager of the Year consideration for the way he kept his team together early this season.

That guy's really good. That's the one GM Ken Williams hopes stays around a long time, but it sure doesn't appear to be what Guillen wants.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Herald's Scot Gregor on Wednesday, Guillen said he has been thinking about leaving the White Sox and sounded absolutely exhausted by the turmoil.

Thing is, Guillen creates all the turmoil, bringing all that misery upon himself and others, just another grand contradiction in the Ozzie enigma.

Guillen also said that when Reinsdorf spanked him earlier this season, he was told to think before he acts, and yet, he admitted, he can't stop himself from doing it.

But is it that he can't stop or won't?

Williams told Gregor that he's concerned about the tone of Guillen's Sox fatigue and will monitor him more closely but thinks it might be just the strain of a long and difficult season and that Guillen may feel better in the off-season.

Williams, for his part, has never wavered on Guillen, despite being a frequent target.

He has always said that Guillen will be here as long as he wants to be, and that only Guillen's behavior will be his undoing, not a decision by Williams.

The GM also has made it clear that he hopes that doesn't happen, even though deep down he must know it will.

In June 2007, I asked Williams if he worried that Guillen eventually would make that fatal mistake, rendering Williams powerless to protect the manager from himself.

"How can you not fear that?'' Williams said three years ago. "But I fear that as his friend more than I do as the guy who sits in the chair directly above him.

"He's gotten better at recognizing what's flammable and what isn't. I just want what's best for him, so I hope he can continue that.''

What's changed since then is the two are no longer friends, merely co-workers, and Guillen no longer avoids the flammable, instead leaving a trail of kerosene everywhere he goes and dropping matches behind him like bread crumbs.

Seriously, you think his son is tweeting without Ozzie's knowledge? That Ozzie's not feeding him? That Ozzie doesn't use that to strike out against the front office?

Even if none of the above is true, Guillen could stop that any time he wants, but apparently he doesn't want.

Maybe Reinsdorf will call Guillen into his office - again - and tell him to grow up - again - and to stop ripping Williams - again.

And maybe Guillen will knock it off - again.

But it's hard to imagine this not ending badly. It seems just a question of how and when.

Before it comes to that, before there's a fiery implosion that shakes the foundation and causes collateral damage, the Sox ought to sit down with Guillen at season's end and see if he really wants to be here in 2011.

If he doesn't, let him walk.

But that's not Reinsdorf's way. Like the good dad he is, he wants them all to get along like brothers and to work together in pursuit of another World Series title.

That's comforting and admirable and optimistic, but it's probably unrealistic.

So if Guillen wants out, the Sox should just let the Ozzie era end - before it goes up in flames.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.