Raise your hand if you thought the Mike Quade era in Chicago would end before the Ozzie Guillen era. Despite all the chaos and bad vibes of the last couple months, and despite Ozzie having talked himself out of his job, and having talked the Sox out of wanting him to stay, I thought Jerry Reinsdorf's sense of loyalty would prove to be the strongest factor in getting Ozzie to stay without a contract extension. I thought Reinsdorf wanting No. 13 to stay would be enough for No. 13 to stay.
It turned out to be a pretty naive belief. Though we can't be exactly sure how the conversation with Reinsdorf went, it seems like Ozzie asked to be released from his contract. The ball was in his court, as much as he tried to convince everyone with was in Reinsdorf's.
The Sox say na-na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, good-bye to arguably the best manager in the history of the franchise, but with Ozzie's insistence on an extension and his unwilingness to sacrifice his coaches, the time was right. The biggest problem for the Sox is that no one near his caliber is currently available to replace him.
The top name on many wish lists will be Tony LaRussa, but that's a long-shot at best, and it's more likely that GM Kenny Williams will push for someone more likely to be a good, humble employee than Ozzie was.
Now that Ozzie's out, it will be interesting to see how far Kenny goes to change this team. Much has been made of Mark Buehrle possibly pitching his final White Sox game tonight, but I think letting the World Series manager walk out the door makes it more likely that the franchise's favorite pitcher from the World Series era won't be renewed. It's more likely, too, with the emergence of Tyler Flowers that World Series catcher A.J. Pierzynski could be traded in the off-season. And, why not ship Paul Konerko while you're at it?
I don't really want these things to happen, but it's very likely the Sox will hire a manager without a World Series championship under his belt and without Ozzie's years of experience as a winner. Someone like Joey Cora could provide a natural organizational transition, but even that seems doubtful if Kenny wants to clean the house of "Ozzie's guys."
Next year's team could very well be a bunch of very young players, plus a couple of veterans chained to big contracts and looking for a rebound. That's not an appetizing situation for any manager--as Quade found out this year--let alone a proven winner.