Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ozzie Guillen and Fidel Castro

Ozzie Guillen's recent remarks about Fidel Castro have landed him in hot water. Evidently Ozzie was quoted as saying he respected Fidel, because people have been trying to kill him for 60 years and that (expletive) is still here. His math, and language, might be a little off, but he's basically right. Fidel's lasted through 11 -- count em -- 11 US Presidents, from Eisenhower to the present day.

Ozzie's problem is being in the wrong place to make such statements. As the new manager of the Florida Marlins, which play in Miami, Oz stirred up a hornet's nest amongst the locals. It's no big secret that Miami is commonly referred to as Little Cuba, because about a million people there have roots to the island nation 90 miles away from Key West, and are vehemently anti-Castro.

But that misses the bigger point. Guillen is Venezuelan and became a naturalized US citizen in 2006. Whether one likes him and his latest remarks or not, being a citizen comes with that pesky little thing called freedom of speech. In other words, he has a right to express his opinion.

Sure, the Marlins could fine, or even fire him, because of the local backlash, but if the matter winds up in the courts -- Ozzie will win -- because he has to. The first Amendment of the Constitution demands it. Some might counter that argument and say his words were detrimental to the Florida Marlins franchise, which resulted in fans staying away from the games, and the subsequent loss of revenue that resulted. If so, they haven't been paying attention to reality. The Marlins have historically ranked towards the bottom of major league baseball teams in attendance. They were 29th out of 30 last year. It appears that many of the people that are currently bashing a baseball manager haven't gone to the games over the years to support their home team anyway. So who indeed has a right to trash talk?

Yet, unlike the Ozzie we have come to know, he has fallen into the old trap by apologizing, in an attempt to appease those who he may have offended. Not once, but twice, and a third apology is scheduled. It's always been a bad move. Short of saying something way out of bounds regarding race, religion, etc., --which this was not -- he should have stuck to his guns. He had/has a right. The wolves are always lurking, and apologizing shows weakness, which means more wolves will smell the scent and come. It's a recipe for eventually being eaten alive.

Someone said his remarks were akin to praising Hitler in New York's Jewish district. To which I say -- so what? Ozzie can go to San Fran's China Town handing out pictures of Mao, or Dearborn, Michigan, a predominantly Arab community, with the Star of David tattooed on his forehead. It shouldn't matter. If they don't like it -- that's THEIR problem.

In the end, he's a manager of a major league baseball club. He should be judged on how his team performs on the field, not on his personal opinions of unrelated matters.

Personally, I hope he sticks around for a while. Again, some like him, and some don't -- but his antics sure are fun to watch.


  1. Ozzie always seems to be getting himself into hot water. However, I am not quite sure he deserves what he is getting right now. His statement sounded awful and heartless, but I keep thinking that English is his second language, and did his choice of words actually reflect his thoughts or did the word love come out because he couldn't quickly come up with the correct word? I guess only he knows, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

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