Ozzie Guillen is guilty of being dumb, and a drama queen like MLB has never seen. He is ignorant, but he cannot plead ignorance in his latest mouth mess–his clueless comments in Time magazine’s online edition about Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Guillen has lived in Florida in the offseasons while managing the Chicago White Sox; he has managed Cuban players who have helped him win a World Series (Jose Contreras, El Duque). There are 650,000 Cuban Americans in the Miami area.
Should he be suspended or fined by the Miami Marlins or by MLB? Only if either entity thinks it will make Guillen smarter or less insecure. Otherwise, no.
The very population that is outraged that Guillen said he loved and respected Castro came to the U.S. because one, it was really close, and two, it could offer a life free from oppression, a socialist government backed by the USSR and reprisal for not being Castro supporters. The U.S. offered a life not thought possible anymore in Cuba under Castro, and one of the perks of the U.S. was free speech.
Guillen spoke freely, if stupidly, given his new team’s fanbase. But let’s look at his language from a non-refugee point of view; Guillen said he loved and respected Castro because he has remained living despite 60 years of actual or planned attempts on his life.
You or I may have said, “I admire those who persevere in the face of great challenge,” but we are not Ozzie, who is known for sucking shoe leather with comments such as (h/t to the Miami Herald’s April 9 story):
• Using a profanity-laced gay slur while referring to a local sports columnist critical of the White Sox. Guillen later apologized to the gay community, but not the writer in question.
• Speaking out against Arizona’s strict illegal immigration law in 2010. He was quoted as saying that “this country can’t survive without [immigrants]. There are a lot of people from this country who are lazy. A lot of people in this country want to be on the computer and send e-mails to people. We do the hard work.”
• Praising Chávez and appearing on his radio show in 2005, only to deny ever speaking to him when he was introduced as the Marlins manager last fall. He has since criticized the longtime Venezuelan president.
Guillen even admitted Saturday to drinking to excess after every game, claiming he’s done so for more than two decades.
We in Chicago are delighted that it has taken less than a week for this blowhard to reach regular-season form, but since it is an election year in the Miami area, and since the public helped build the $640 million pastel-icious stadium, this is more serious than if Guillen had declared his respect for Jim Belushi because he represented all that was good about Chicago.
Political figures and hardcore Cuban refugee groups are calling for at the least reprimand and at the most Guillen’s ouster. There will be at least one boycott, from a group that will make a show of protest today, when Guillen makes the appropriate move to fly to Miami in the middle of a roadtrip to have a press conference addressing the matter.
It’s bad on the beach, considering all the money spent on the new place, which is being ridiculed, the new uniforms and logo, which are being ridiculed, and the new manager, who is ridiculous already. Yes, owner Jeffrey Loria knew what he was getting in Guillen, so a firing seems unlikely. The team has disavowed the remarks, and Guillen has already apologized and criticized Castro. From an NBC Miami story:
“I will apologize if I hurt somebody’s feelings, or I hurt somebody’s thought,” Guillen said. “I want them to know I’m against everything 100 percent — I repeat it again — the way this man (been) treating people for the last 60 years.”
Guillen announced he’d fly back to Miami Tuesday to discuss the comments.
“I feel sad and in a couple days I you know, stuck in my stomach, not because what I did, it just because I know I hurt a lot of people and I want to make it clear, especially for me,” Guillen said before Monday’s game in Philadelphia. “I want to get the thing over with and I told the Marlins I want to fly as soon as I can and tomorrow is the day off, I don’t do nothing in Philadelphia, I’d rather be in Miami, clear everything up.”
Yet, filling the old ballpark was hard, even though the Latin American community loves its baseball, and this lipslip could affect attendance if the protests and outrage gather momentum, apologies or no. I think a suspension or fine from the team and/or MLB would not be surprising, but I’m sure it would not teach Ozzie a thing.
Another thing I’m sure of: this band woke up each day and immediately set about getting after it, not stopping until we were rocked. I hope you are in a place where you can turn it up and shake your head.