Ozzie Guillen is getting what he asked for when he left one of the most loyal owners in sports to work for one of the quirkiest. His job is in jeopardy only one season into a four-year deal, and few will be sad if he is swept out alongside longtime player personnel guy Larry Beinfest as the Marlins limp away from a horrific first season in their new art deco home.
But Guillen wasn't what went bad in Miami. The fatal flaw was in overrating the talent of guys like Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison, Josh Johnson and Heath Bell, and maybe also in owner Jeffrey Loria falling so hard for Guillen that fans expected him to make this team better.
It rarely works that way in baseball. Buck Showalter is having a huge impact with the Orioles, but it took him three seasons to do it. As for surprise teams like the Athletics and White Sox, Bob Melvin and Robin Ventura would tell you it's their players who are making the difference, not their handling of players.
Guillen isn't why the Marlins entered the penultimate weekend of the season on track for a 71-91 record. According to the Pythagorean standings, his managing actually had picked up one victory for his team — the seventh time in his nine seasons as a manager that he has had no effect or a positive effect on the Pythagorean standings (plus-20 career).
Guillen was worried about his team on opening day, and rightly so. His lineup was built around the power of guys like Giancarlo Stanton, Morrison and Ramirez, and injuries to Morrison and Stanton contributed to it being the least dangerous in the majors during the first month.
The trend carried over during the season, with Stanton being very streaky and Morrison playing only 93 games (.230, 11 homers) because of a knee that should have been repaired last winter. The Marlins rank last in the National League in runs and 10th in home runs. They have hit only 50 homers in 75 games at Marlins Park, creating questions about the park's dimensions as the naming-rights value has dropped.
And you can't blame Guillen for the biggest mistake Loria made — trying to force instant success in 2012 because it marked the opening of his publicly funded stadium in Little Havana.
Guillen jumped at Loria's offer of a four-year, $10 million contract, leaving the White Sox even before the 2011 season had ended (another mistake for him and Loria). MLB.com reports Loria and team President David Samson are weighing a managerial change, with the highly respected Mike Lowell a candidate to take over.
But most of the heat seems to be directed toward Beinfest, who has been with Loria since joining him with the Expos in Montreal in 1999. He was the architect of the Marlins team that shocked the Yankees in the 2003 World Series after recovering from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cubs in the NLCS. But this will be the Marlins' fifth losing season in the last seven, and unlike the others, it can't be written off to an untenable ballpark and a low payroll.
Streaking: The Braves have won 21 consecutive starts by Kris Medlen, who didn't make his first start this season until July 31. His streak carries back to 2010, before he had elbow surgery, and is the longest such streak in the big leagues since the Yankees won 22 in a row behind Whitey Ford.
"It's awesome," Medlen said. "My wife has told me and a couple of people have said some of the names I'm being mentioned with. Whitey Ford? Come on. Don't even say it. … Anytime you can get mentioned in the same sentence as guys like that, it's really cool. I just try not to get too far ahead of myself, just focus on the goal at hand, which is trying to make the playoffs."
The Braves entered the weekend on pace to win 93 games but almost certainly will find themselves in a win-or-go-home wild-card playoff with the Cardinals, Brewers or Dodgers. Medlen, 26, seems likely to get that assignment, not 15-game winner Tim Hudson. That says a lot.
Putting on the cape: The hopes of Yankees fans perked up Wednesday when Andy Pettitte threw five scoreless innings in his first start since breaking his left ankle June 27.
It will be interesting to see where manager Joe Girardi slots him into the playoff rotation if the Yankees win the East or the wild card. He's 19-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 42 career postseason starts.
"Let's be honest: In baseball terms, Andy is not a normal human,'' Nick Swisher told the New York Post. "Andy brings that hero element to us. He's one of those main guys who have made the Yankees who they are. In a sense, it's almost like a superhero popping (onto the field).''
Rare treasure: Gary Nickels, a Naperville-based scout for the Dodgers, was watching PBS' "Antiques Roadshow'' once when the item being discussed was a baseball signed by players from the 1961 Yankees.
"The host was saying that balls with a lot of signatures don't have that much value, not as much as ones just signed by the top players,'' Nickels said. "But he said this one was different because of one name — Bob Hale. There weren't very many signed by him.''
Hale, a longtime Park Ridge resident who died this month at 78, was one of 36 players who played for the Yankees in the year Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth's single-season homer record. He got into 11 games as a backup to first baseman Moose Skowron.
Hale was 27 at the end of that season but retired to pursue his doctorate in education. He spent most of his life as an elementary school principal and part-time scout.
"He was a great guy to scout against,'' Nickels said. "You always learned something scouting against Bob. … We're already missing him.''
The last word: "I don't really care about holding the home run lead. He is a good dude, and he has played consistently well for a long time. It would be cool if there was another winner. There's nobody I'd rather see win it than him." — The Rangers' Josh Hamilton on Miguel Cabrera's attempt to become baseball's first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.