Miami Marlins manager, Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games for his comments about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Guillen said a loved Castro and respected him for being in power for over six decades. All hell broke loose after that.
Ozzie has always been what writers call a “character.” He says a lot of outrageous things and is always entertaining. He’s like the Latino Charles Barkley. But making any comments that can even be perceived as pro-Castro while you are in Miami is a no-no. And this is not the first time Guillen has made similar comments about Castro.
Back in 2008, when Guillen was manager of the Chicago White Sox he said he admired Castro because he was the toughest man he knew. He wasn’t suspended and no one made a big deal about it because he was in Chicago. Everyone ignored it.
The Cubans in Miami will not ignore it this time. And with good reason. I have been reading a lot of comments the last two days from people saying that the Cubans need to “get over” Castro and that it’s “ancient history.” These people do not understand the plight of Cubans who are exiled in America.
Many of the older Cubans have been directly affected by Castro’s brutality. They have had friends and family members killed by Castro’s regime. Their lives have been devastated because of Castro. I don’t see how someone can just “get over” that.
What the Marlins and Guillen will find out is that the Cubans in Miami are very vocal and very organized. They will make their displeasure known and the Marlins will have to deal with that. Some groups have said they will picket Marlins Park until Guillen is fired. And I absolutely think they will follow through on that promise.
I have even seen people claim that this is a Free Speech issue. It isn’t. As Americans we are free to say what we want and not have to suffer repercussions from the government. What everyone needs to understand is that Guillen is an employee of the Marlins and has to obey their rules. No one can go into work and start saying crazy things and not expect some kind of punishment. Also, five games is not that stiff of a penalty in a 162-game season.
This whole controversy comes at possibly the worse time for the marlins. They have just built a new stadium; they renamed the team the Miami Marlins trying to associate themselves closer with the city. (They were the Florida marlins up until this season) And they hired Giullen, a Latino, to be the face of the franchise. The stadium is even in the middle of Little Havana. And that placement was not a coincidence. Cubans love baseball. They are loyal fans.
So after one home game Ozzie Gilllen has managed to piss off a large majority of the team’s fanbase.
To his credit, Guillen has held a press conference and apologized for his comments. He has taken responsibility for what he said which makes him better than 90% of the celebrities and politicians who get into this kind of trouble. It wasn’t one of those “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by what I said,” type of apologies. It was honest and heart-felt.
His apology will not put an end to this story but it’s a step in the right direction.