By Kristian Dyer
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Like watching a mouth falling down a flight of stairs, the walking tragedy that is Ozzie Guillen is another reminder of how the game can and should be handled.
There are no shades of grey with the Marlins manager – he is either loved or hated; without a doubt a lightning rod, a flamboyant and provocative manager who seems to inspire both fear and confidence in his players. But after last week’s admissions in Time where he praised former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Guillen’s latest flap is a reminder that some things are more important than sports.
During a Tuesday morning press conference in Miami as Guillen danced around his statements, stating that he incorrectly expressed his views while speaking in his second tongue of English, a Cuban community that is the largest in this country took to the streets of Miami to protest his insensitive comments.
In his first year with the Marlins, Guillen was supposed to turn around the struggling franchise and the free-spending team, buoyed by a new ballpark, emerged as the clear cut winners in free agency from the National League. He had attracted marquee free agents, a jaded (and perhaps nonexistent) fan base was excited and the team seemed poised at a playoff run.
But if Guillen is the quick-fix it takes to win the division, then the Mets should proudly sign up for a losing season and patiently wait for their team to return to winning ways.
The Mets front office has often been the personification of a mess as poor decisions, even poorer signings and an overall lack of direction mark their recent resume of inept choices. And while this has led to heartache and agita for fans, the Mets track record over the past decade is amazingly strong in one regard: they do hire managers with integrity.
Only once since the 2001 season have the Mets made the playoffs, only second to the Nationals in the NL East for postseason futility. On six occasions during that stretch, they’ve finished below .500 and in all those seasons they’ve been either last or next to last in the division. This isn’t a team that has had a whole lot of success since 2000 when they last made the World Series.
Spiraling downward, on paper the Mets need a manager like an Ozzie Guillen. Instead, they’ve got something better in Terry Collins.
In eight years in Chicago, Guillen led the White Sox to two divisional titles and a World Series crown in 2005. Five times in his eight seasons in Chicago the White Sox finished above .500, becoming one of the most consistent clubs in baseball. His .524 winning percentage coming into this year is a head above the .502 percentage of Collins, who has never won a division title let alone a World Series.
But the Mets made their hire based on the integrity and morals of Collins, not on expediency. What Guillen has in clear-cut sizzle Collins has in substance.
Collins may not be flashy and players may not flock to him like they do to Guillen, but he isn’t a man to take shortcuts. Despite never winning a title he did build a solid product in Houston in the 90’s, developing a good young team. As a rule, Collins chooses his words carefully, measuring each statement and taking the heat when his team under-performs.
In a business where the bottom line is measured and wins and losses, Collins may not be the most successful manager the Mets have ever seen, but he’s one that fans can certainly take pride in.
It is unthinkable to even imagine that Collins would ever be foolish enough to utter such rank stupidity as that which comes from the mouth of Guillen, a manager with a track record of poor choices and an unbridled tongue. But when the Mets inevitably slip behind the Marlins in the standings at some point this season, they will still continue to play and be managed the right way.
The Terry Collins way.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
Would you take Collins over Guillen every time? Sound off, Mets fans!