We received an early reminder this week how Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen will amuse and entertain and speak more brashly and boldly than any leader of a South Florida team since Pat Riley. Ten Guillen musings from Marlins Media Day:
### Guillen made clear “I expect to win the division” and vows to “change the mentality” here: “This is not going to be the ball club we’ve had in the past” where the approach has been, “OK, Let’s go play the season and see what happens.’ With the talent they have, I expect to win. I’m not going to say, ‘I expect to win the World Series.’ That’s kind of arrogant.’” But he says he sees no holes in his team.
### He won’t accept players criticizing teammates. “If you are going to talk [badly] about your teammate, be ready for the biggest fight because I will fight you.” He said he never throws the first punch (figuratively), but when he throws the second, “I want to draw blood.”
### When can fans expect Guillen to go off on one of his players (in the media or face to face)? “If my players play fine, it’s going to be a quiet season. I told guys, ‘I’m very fun to play for.’ But if things don’t go right, you will feel it, because I demand people play the game the right way. At some point, they will love me. At some point, they will hate me. Some players hate me; I'll hate them, too.... But I respect all my players. I don’t care how much you make. I will treat everyone the same way.”
For Guillen, the key to managing players “is communication, respect, loyalty. Make sure you’re telling the truth, good or bad.” Among his very few rules: "If you're not there for the National Anthem, you're in trouble. You better respect" the country.
### He said “the people in Venezuela [are] betting to see when’s the first time me and [hothead pitcher Carlos Zambrano] are going to fight. They will lose,” said Guillen, who lobbied the Marlins front office to acquire him. “It’s fun to see Carlos upset.” But “if Carlos throws at somebody without my permission, then we’re going to have a problem…. If you’re upset because you suck, pitch better.”
### Guillen loves comparing winning and losing. For example, the Marlins’ new uniforms “look bad. But if we win, these are going to be the best uniforms in sports.” And… “if you win and [Logan Morrison] tweets a stupid thing, then people think it’s funny. If you lose, and LoMo tweets a stupid thing, people think it’s stupid.”
### He warned any Marlins player who doesn’t like the bigger crowds and extra media attention: “If they don’t think it’s a good thing, let me know in April and we’ll get them out of here.”
### Want a less emotional Guillen? Forget it. “I’m 48 and I’m not going to change. My wife tried to change me and she can’t. Miami is not going to change me…. I don’t know how many times people have told me I’m crazy.” Be prepared to hear the word ‘crazy’ a lot. He said people in baseball who used to criticize the Marlins for not spending now “say [we’re] all crazy people. We can’t make everybody happy.’”
### Guillen must be the only person in sports who says “it will be fun to see me thrown out” and who admits, “I’d rather be rich than have rings.” But “when you have both, it’s nicer.”
### He said “Hanley Ramirez for me is just like LeBron James. If something is wrong with the Heat, it’s LeBron’s fault. Now, and every time the Marlins lose, it’s Oswaldo Guillen’s fault. It’s not the fault of any of the players. That’s the responsibility I have.”
### Final word from Ozzie: “If I was Hanley Ramirez, I’d be the happiest man on Earth. You got Emilio Bonifacio and Jose Reyes hitting in front of you, and Mike Stanton hit behind you. You have a chance to have a great year. Prove to people you’re the man.”
He said third base “will be easier for Hanley” than shortstop, adding (completely in jest) he won’t be at as much risk “to kick balls in the outfield.”
### Dolphins employees have been thoroughly impressed by new coach Joe Philbin, saying he’s more friendly and approachable than Tony Sparano. Philbin, in a classy move, already has reached out to Don Shula… There’s curiousity internally in seeing how the new staff deals with Brandon Marshall. Some players thought the former staff looked the other way when he did foolish things (like spiking a ball off Vontae Davis’ face)…. How eager are the Dolphins to boost ticket sales? They’ve lowered lower bowl corner seats by $12 per game and some upper level sideline seats by $15 per game. All other prices have stayed the same.
### Even though Shaquille O’Neal concurred that the Heat is the front-runner to win the title, Shaq and Steve Kerr voiced similar concerns to me on a TNT call Tuesday. “I worry about the fourth quarter execution,” Kerr said. “Late in games, they still have a tendency to go to bad habits when they isolate and settle.” Kerr also wonders whether the Heat can handle the "enormous pressure" during the playoffs.
Shaq told The Herald: "They have what it takes to get there, but can they close? Can they become consistent in the fourth quarter? Can they make the right plays. They're one of the top teams. We'll see. Orlando is going to be there in the East. Atlanta is still going to be there. Can't forget about Chicago. Boston is going to make the playoffs."
### Unusual scene at UM Monday night, where basketball coach Jim Larranaga and his players were wandering the halls of dorms, giving out free pizza and imploring fans to attend Wednesday’s big North Carolina game. Unfortunately, several students could not identify the coach. Is he disappointed in the low home attendance (4423 average in ACC games)? No, he said, because “you’re not surprised.” Getting a big fan base “is going to take a while and we’ve got to win a lot.”
### It would help Wednesday if Malcolm Grant shakes out of his puzzling, prolonged shooting slump (down to 34 percent for the season and 30.8 on threes). “This has been maybe a more difficult transition for [Grant and Durand Scott] than they anticipated,” Larranaga said. Grant agrees: “We were used to having the ball the majority of the time. Now Shane Larkin does. But coach yells at me at the top of his lungs if I don’t shoot.”