Ozzie makes himself safe at home – on the North Side

From the Saturday, Aug. 13, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

Ozzie makes himself safe at home on the North Side


Aug. 13, 2011

During his career in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen has been called a lot of things.

Some of them are even fit for a family newspaper.

As the mercurial manager of the White Sox, he’s been called a loud mouth. And he’s been called a champion. Ozzie has been called a lunatic. And he’s been called a baseball genius.

But, I’m pretty sure that he’s never been called a hipster.

Until now.

That’s because, last week, news broke that Guillen sold his three-bedroom townhouse on Chicago’s Near West Side for $610,000, and shelled out $1.95 million for a 6,163-square-foot, newly constructed, contemporary-style house in Bucktown, one of two (gasp) North Side neighborhoods – along with adjacent Wicker Park – known as bastions for Chicago’s counterculture crowd.

Think snarky twentysomethings wearing skinny jeans, fedoras and thick-rimmed glasses, of which most probably prefer the Cubs.

That is, if they know much of anything about baseball at all.

(You can practically hear the 47-year-old Guillen’s blood pressure whistling like a teapot from here.)

In Chicago, word of Ozzie spending big bucks to matriculate to Bucktown was surprising enough that it sparked RedEye, the city’s commuter-targeted morning newspaper, to ask local residents what advice they would give their hot-headed new neighbor.

“Take it easy,” 28-year-old Gabriel Eigen suggested. “Don’t get upset about stuff. Chill.” Meanwhile, Temi Torres, 26, added, “Don’t talk as much. Keep it short and sweet. There’s a lot of Cubs fans over here. I would tell him just come and go, try to stay low key.”

Yeah, and Ozzie might give up Twitter, too.

“He should probably buy a bicycle,” 28-year-old Matt Paprocki chimed in. “I feel like that would be my first tip if he’s moving to this area. He’d fit right in. I’d say a vintage Schwinn.”

If he gets one, Ozzie could take late-night bike trips to buzz doorbells and prank the many Cubs players who have their own posh pads spread out in neighborhoods throughout the North Side.

For example, pitcher Ryan Dempster, who always appreciates a good joke, has two homes near Wrigley Field – one of them listed for $1.9 million – that Ozzie could choose from. Right nearby is Jeff Samardzjia, who paid $710,000 in 2008 for a condo along the trendy Southport corridor, just west of Wrigley.

Before he was dealt to Cleveland, Kosuke Fukudome was residing in a $1.44 million condo downtown in Streeterville. But that’s chump change when compared to the $2.65 million one that Alfonso Soriano bought in the same neighborhood back in 2006.

Since 2005, Aramis Ramirez has lived in a Gold Coast condo that he purchased for $937,500. Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano owns homes in both River Forest and West Lakeview, having spent $1.2 million for the former in ’06 and $2.66 million for the latter in ’08.

All of those homes, however, pale in comparison to the $3.32 million Lincoln Park mansion that Kerry Wood splurged for three years ago. However, not even Wood’s estate is as big an expenditure as the $1.7 million, 17-room, 7,400-square-foot house – with six-and-a-half baths and an elevator – that Cubs reliever Sean Marshall bought in north suburban Lincolnwood earlier this year.

Marshall, mind you, has made only $1.7 million so far in his entire career.

(Don’t fret for him too much, though. He’s guaranteed $3.1 million next season.)

Now, Guillen’s realtor claims that Ozzie relocated to the North Side because he simply “wanted a bigger house.” But perhaps the embattled manager, who’s been rumored for other jobs in 2012, has a different reason for moving onto enemy turf.

Maybe he’s hoping to manage the Cubs.

And, you know, bike to work.