Ozzie Guillen and the 10 Most Polarizing MLB Managers of All Time

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2012

Ozzie Guillen and the 10 Most Polarizing MLB Managers of All Time

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    Ozzie Guillen and his love of everything Castro turned out to be his final undoing.

    As reported by the Associated Press, Guillen was dismissed by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday (h/t ESPN). It was partly because of a 93-loss season, but more as the result of his polarizing comments just six months earlier.

    Guillen's remarks about his admiration of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro angered many Cuban Americans in the South Florida, who happen to make up a decent-sized portion of the Marlins' fanbase.

    Other factors led to his dismissal as well, and the Marlins will now be looking for their fifth new manager since early 2010.

    Where does Guillen rank among polarizing managers in MLB history?

    Let's take a look.

10. Bob Geren: Oakland Athletics

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    In four-plus years as manager of the Oakland Athletics, Bob Geren was never able to rise above the level of .500.

    However, it was more about the way his players felt about him that eventually had him walking out the door.

    Former A's closer Huston Street described his relationship with Geren in a message sent to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Bob was never good at communication, and I don't want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left. For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27. I am very thankful to be in a place where I can trust my manager.

    Street wasn't the only player that took issue with Geren.

    Closer Brian Fuentes also had problems with the way Geren communicated with his players. From MLB.com:

    "There's just no communication," he said. "Two games on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven't stretched, I haven't prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game -- which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don't think anybody really knows which direction he's headed."

    And finally, it wasn't just players who took issue with the way Geren went about his business—coaches were apparently baffled as well.

    Former coach Bob Schaefer was fired after working with Geren for only one season. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that the experience left a bad taste in his mouth.

    "I didn't want to come back anyway," Schaefer said at the time.

    He also noted that Geren never made good use of the experience offered by his staff.

    "I was happy they hired me, but I was happy they fired me," Schaefer said.

9. Mike Quade: Chicago Cubs

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    By all accounts, Mike Quade was excellent management material. He had cut his teeth working in the minor leagues after retiring as a player, named Minor League Manager of the Year in 1991 while at the helm of the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.

    Quade served as the Chicago Cubs third base coach for three-plus seasons when he was promoted to interim manager in 2010 after the sudden resignation of Lou Piniella.

    Quaded guided the Cubs to a 24-13 finish under his direction and was then given a two-year contract to continue at the helm.

    The decision to give the job to Quade was met with disdain by much of the Cubs fanbase, who had been expecting Chicago to promote former second baseman and current Triple-A manager Ryne Sandberg to the position.

    Quade's first and only full season was abysmal, as the Cubs posted a 71-91 record and fifth-place finish in the NL Central Division. Many of Quade's on-field decisions were questioned, and almost immediately after Theo Epstein took over as president of baseball operations, Quade was gone.

    As for Sandberg, he left as well, joining the Philadelphia Phillies organization in November 2010 to take over as manager of their Triple-A affiliate.

8. Ted Williams: Washington Senators/Texas Rangers

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    One of the greatest players in the history of baseball turned out to be not such a good manager.

    Ted Williams took over as manager of the Washington Senators in 1969 and found success that first year. Williams guided his team to an 86-76 record and won AL Manager of the Year honors.

    That would be the only success Williams had. He then posted three straight losing seasons before finally being dismissed in 1972 after guiding his Rangers to a 54-100 record and last place finish.

    Williams constantly grossed about his players and their lack of abilities—apparently, he had no patience for anyone that couldn't hit as well as himself. He especially took issue with pitchers, whom he would later say he had no respect for in the first place.

    Williams was not a great communicator—he, in fact, rarely even talked to any of his pitchers, giving that duty to his coaches.

    Great players do not always make great managers—in Williams' case, no one was going to match up to him, and that was largely his undoing as a manager.

7. Don Wakamatsu: Seattle Mariners

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    Don Wakamatsu's tenure as manager of the Seattle Mariners was short—and not so sweet.

    While he guided the team to an 85-77 finish in his first season in 2009, the 2010 season proved disastrous.

    The Mariners had signed free agents Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins during the offseason, and many experts predicted the M's as favorites to win the AL West Division.

    However, Seattle was abysmal, getting off to a 42-70 start. Wakamatsu had confrontations with Ken Griffey, Jr., Figggins and Milton Bradley on more than one occasion. He also got into a heated shoving match with infielder Jose Lopez in the dugout at Safeco Field.

    Wakamatsu was canned in August, and you would have been struggling to find any of his current players who were saddened by his departure.

6. Terry Bevington: Chicago White Sox

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    A quick look at the managerial record for Terry Bevington—222-214, .509 winning percentage—doesn't in itself reveal much. But a quick look behind the scenes clearly reveals just how polarizing Bevington was a skipper of the Chicago White Sox.

    To say that Bevington's relationship with his players was rocky would be putting it mildly.

    His relationship with the media even more so.

    Joe Goddard of the Chicago Sun-Times summed it up best when referring to Bevington's attitude towards the media (h/t Los Angeles Times).

    "[Bevington] acted as though he didn't give a damn about the press. Not even charm lessons conducted by TV media mogul Andrea Kirby helped."

5. Ozzie Guillen: Chicago White Sox/Miami Marlins

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    To say that the 2012 season for the Miami Marlins was a disappointment would be a vast understatement. To say that Ozzie Guillen's tenure there as manager was polarizing would be equally understated.

    Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria traded two minor league players to pry Guillen away from Chicago, giving him a four-year, $10 million contract.

    Loria now has to eat $7.5 million.

    Guillen's time in Miami was clearly going to be short-term after his April comments regarding Fidel Castro angered an entire South Florida community made up of Cuban-Americans who would rather see Castro dead.

    In addition, Guillen was never able to get the Marlins to gel despite ownership's almost $200 million investment in players during the offseason.

    Between his highlight-reel comments while skipper of the Chicago White Sox and his lone season in Miami, there's no question Guillen will down in history as one of the most polarizing managers in MLB history.

4. Earl Weaver: Baltimore Orioles

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    You'll find few managers in history better than Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles. He compiled a .583 winning percentage in 17 seasons along with four AL pennants and a World Series championship.

    But Weaver's famous temper made him a manager largely met with disdain by umpires.

    Weaver may be beloved in Baltimore, and for all the right reasons—he simply won.

    But umpires no doubt applauded the day Weaver retired.

3. Leo Durocher: Dodgers/Giants/Cubs/Astros

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    Leo Durocher was named to the Hall of Fame in 1994 for his managing abilities, winning three pennants and a World Series title during his 24-year career.

    But Durocher is most famous for his many clashes with umpires and with team officials.

    Durocher famously fought with former Brooklyn Dodgers GM Larry MacPhail on more than one occasion, and Durocher was also suspended for the entire 1947 season by MLB commissioner Happy Chandler for his participation in a rigged crap game and association with known gamblers.

    Durocher would later manage the Chicago Cubs, and at one time, nearly came to blows with future Hall of Fame third baseman Ron Santo during a clubhouse rift.

2. Bobby Valentine: Boston Red Sox

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    Earlier this month, before the dismissal of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, another polarizing manager was dismissed after just one season—embattled Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine.

    Valentine's lone season at the helm of the Red Sox was anything but serene—and Valentine's own mouth often got him in trouble.

    At the beginning of the season, Valentine publicly criticized third baseman Kevin Youkilis, saying that "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason."

    Those words were immediately pounced upon by local media and his players. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia said at the time, "I don't know what Bobby's trying to do. But that's not how we go about our stuff here."

    Reports about Valentine not communicating with his coaches soon started circulating, and then the famous meeting between players and Red Sox management originally reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports followed.

    Finally, on the last day of the regular season in a scheduled interview with WEEI Radio, Valentine said that he was undermined by his coaching staff.

    Is it any wonder the Red Sox didn't even wait a full day before firing him?

1. Billy Martin: Twins/Tigers/Rangers/Yankees/Athletics/Yankees

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    There is absolutely no question in my mind that Billy Martin deserves the top spot on this list.

    At the very beginning of his managerial career, Martin guided the Minnesota Twins to a 97-65 record in 1969. Yet he was still fired at the end of the season, mainly because of a celebrated fight between Martin and Twins pitcher Dave Boswell outside a bar in Detroit in August of that season.

    Martin moved on to Detroit to manage the Tigers for three seasons, but was again fired despite a winning record for ordering his pitchers to throw spitballs.

    Then it was on to Texas to manage the Rangers for parts of three seasons before being named skipper of the New York Yankees in 1975.

    Martin would manage the Yankees on five separate occasions, also finding time to manage the Oakland Athletics between stints with the Yankees as well. His celebrated spat with Reggie Jackson combined with his mercurial relationship with owner George Steinbrenner was constant fodder for the local and national media for well over a decade.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.