White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, arguably the favorite for the American League Manager of the Year Award, is many things to many people -- from Chicago to Venezuela -- but ask his three favorite young men to describe him and their answer is unanimous.
Guillen is "just dad." And considering the White Sox are playing in the American League Championship Series, he seems to know what's best.
"He's been saying that he was going to be here in the playoffs for a long time but nobody believed him," Ozzie Guillen Jr., 21, said. "He's worked really hard and I know it was hard when only a couple of guys believed in him. I'm so proud of my dad."
Ozzie Jr. and brothers Oney, 20, and Ozney, 13, have been enjoying the ride alongside their famous father since Day 1 of the postseason. Ozzie Jr., who recently moved to Chicago from Miami, serves as the team's translator. Ozney, like any normal teenager, shags balls in the outfield and Oney is a college student who drops by when he can.
Together, the trio form the manager's team within the team and Ozzie Sr. wouldn't have it any other way. The only thing the skipper loves more than baseball and his home country of Venezuela is his family.
"I try to give my kids quality time because I can't give them quantity because they're never around me," Guillen Sr. said. "They were in the World Series when I was coach (with the Marlins in 2003). They let my kids be in the dugout with me. ... Those guys go with me everywhere I go, and that's the way it is."
To say he has accomplished a few things on his own is an understatement. The charismatic Guillen was thrust into the spotlight when he was named American League Rookie of the Year in 1985 and became a legend in his country when he was named the White Sox manager before the 2004 season. He is the first manager from Venezuela in Major League Baseball history.
"I've only spoken to my family in Venezuela and they are very proud of me and the team," Guillen said. "I hope they feel proud because I am doing all I can to win and make people proud of this team. I hope Venezuela is proud of me the way I am proud of being from Venezuela."
The country has plenty of reasons to rejoice. Guillen played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues, with the White Sox, Orioles, Braves and Devil Rays. A three-time All-Star, he hit .264 with 28 home runs and 619 RBIs in 1,993 games. He also ranks fourth in White Sox history with 1,743 games played during his 12 seasons with the club.
"There is nothing I want more than the White Sox to win," Guillen said. "The truth is, the money does not matter to me. It does not matter how long I manage. It's very important for me to win a World Series with the White Sox. That's what I want."
He might just get his wish because Guillen has been working toward this point his entire career. Always a curious-minded player, he retired after the 2000 season and was named Montreal's third base coach in June 2001. Guillen went on to spend the 2002 and 2003 seasons as the third base coach for the Marlins.
As a manager, his style is friendly but firm. He encourages players to be who they want to be -- as long they show up every day prepared to be the best they can be.
A similar approach with his sons has helped transform good relationships into great ones. Guillen is Dad, but he's also a buddy.
"He's one of my best friends and I'm glad I have the chance to be around him all the time," Ozzie Jr. said. "When he was a player, we didn't get a chance to see him much, other than the offseason and sometimes in the summer, so we are getting to enjoy it now. I don't think a lot of kids get the chance to go to the office with their fathers every day. We do."
What the sons have witnessed in 2005 has been quite a season. The Guillen-led White Sox won the American League Central and then swept the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox in three games in the American League Division Series.
Not bad for a team predicted to finish in the middle of the pack in the division. Not bad for a manager who has sometimes drawn the ire of opponents because of his comments and driven persona.
"At the end of the day, he is still my father," Ozney said. "Even if they love him or hate him, he is still my dad.
"My dad is two different people. When he is with us, he is caring just like any father would be. When he's at his job, it's his job."