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Guillen becoming an icon of the game

Guillen becoming an icon of the game

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As the playoffs begin, MLB.com gives you a look at what drives the eight managers looking to guide their clubs to a World Series title.

CHICAGO -- During a recent episode of MAD TV, the long-running sketch-comedy show on FOX, a skit was done portraying a postgame press conference with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

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Johnny Sanchez, the actor playing the part of Guillen, seemed to have the skipper's mannerisms down pretty accurately, although the actual impersonation sounded more like Al Pacino from the movie Scarface then the White Sox manager. Of course, there was the requisite profanity that seems to be associated with Guillen's persona, although this bit was exaggerated for comedic value.

Nonetheless, this piece of entertainment, now making its way across the Internet, proved one piece of information to be true concerning Guillen. He has become as much an iconic entertainment figure as he is an important personality in the game of baseball.

"Ozzie is outspoken and all those things, but I don't know if anybody cares as much as that guy," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. "He really cares what goes on over there, and he has a lot of pride in the way the game is supposed to be played and the way he expects it to be played.

"And he's just really vocal about it. Some people take that wrong, but if you watch him over there, he's like a little kid back in sandlot baseball. I think we should all have a part of that in us. I find myself wishing I could laugh a lot more and enjoy it.

"It's honestly fun to look over in the dugout and see him laughing and giggling. If a guy trips out on the field, he's making fun of them. There is really something about that. This is a kid's game, and you know what, he treats it like that, and he has a lot of fun with it."

There also is an intense side to Guillen, as seen through his verbal volleys thrown at times toward the media, the opposition and certainly his own players. It was on display during Friday night's disappointing loss at home to the Indians, when Guillen excused himself from the dugout, went into his office and broke a few pictures hanging on his wall.

Eight Men In

In five years in charge of the White Sox, Guillen has filled numerous reporters' notebooks. He also pushed his team to above-.500 finishes in every season but 2007 and had the White Sox in contention for the American League Central title in all but last year's debacle.

Through all of his entertaining quotes, which a couple of enterprising individuals having assembled into books, Guillen never has received the deserved credit as a truly astute baseball man. Leading the White Sox into contention in 2008 and then capturing their second AL Central crown in four years might be more of a testament to Guillen's leadership than the 2005 World Series title.

He has navigated key injuries to Carlos Quentin, Joe Crede, Jose Contreras, Scott Linebrink and Paul Konerko, not to mention prolonged offensive slumps and bouts of ineffectiveness from the bullpen. In typical Guillen fashion, he played more to the entertainment side while expressing his heartfelt feelings when asked if this race to the season's final days had been fun.

"No! No! No! I don't know, I'd rather be in last place than this," said Guillen with a laugh. "This is something I was looking for, because nobody thought we would be here. It's fun for the players, not for us.

"This is a lot of stress. A lot of stress. This is something I feel like when people go to the Olympics. You practice for four years, and all of a sudden, the first shot you get knocked down, you have to wait for four more years. We feel the same way."

Under Guillen's leadership, working in conjunction with an aggressive and knowledgeable general manager such as Ken Williams, it's unlikely the White Sox will have to wait that long for their next shot at contending. But Guillen's focus remains on 2008.

There's no question Guillen loves to entertain, as the self-expressed leader of this team. He joked on Saturday that if the White Sox lost out to Minnesota, he might drive to Milwaukee and fly home out of Billy Mitchell Airport in order to avoid running into disappointed White Sox fans at Chicago airports.

You see, Guillen's first priority is to win and win for the fans and team he once played for.

"Second place is the first loser, and I said that when I was losing," Guillen said. "It [doesn't] matter if you finish last. It's good, because you're playing for something, but you gonna go home the same way -- maybe with different feelings."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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