There’s nothing disingenuous about Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. For years, Guillen has been honest to a fault and he hasn’t limited that trait to issues surrounding baseball. He has spoken his mind about political and cultural issues, and most recently, in an interview with Time Magazine, Guillen touched on the subject of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which, of course, is a faux pas in Miami on the level with Holocaust jokes in Israel.
It’s not the first time Ozzie Guillen has started a political dumpster fire, having touched on volatile Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez several times in the past. However, having lived in Miami before, even Guillen, as prone to verbal diarrhea as he is, knows better than to talk Castro with an estimated one million Cuban-Americans in the Miami area alone.
Yet, as is most often the case, in further analysis of Guillen’s comments, it’s difficult to see how you could view his comments as political support of a tyrant like Fidel Castro. Ozzie claimed the following in the Time Magazine interview:
“I respect Fidel Castro,” he said. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [guy] is still here.”
I understand the sentiment of what Guillen was saying. Fidel Castro has remained in power for parts of the last seven decades, and he’s done so having made an endless list of enemies. However, Guillen’s folly comes from the word respect, and also in his precursor to that statement, when he claimed, “I love Fidel Castro.”
In an ideal world, Ozzie Guillen would allow his goatee to grow out and braid his mustache to his chin hair so that he could no longer open his mouth, but having dealt with Ozzie in Chicago for the past eight years, I find it hard to believe that he’s as bigoted and stupid as those comments might indicate.
That being said, Guillen’s suspension is called for and the repercussions of his actions will likely extend well beyond five games at home. The Marlins are making a concerted effort to tap into the Latin-American market in Miami, specifically the Cuban portion of that demographic, having built their new stadium in Little Havana.
During the Ozzie Guillen Press Conference, held in Miami today, a statement Guillen made in Spanish was translated to, “The wind can take the words.” Meaning, the things Guillen has said were capable of being misinterpreted.
Guillen tried to both own and defer the statements he has made, and that is perhaps his biggest mistake yet. Ozzie Guillen may not be disingenuous, and I do believe that he felt bad about what he said, but allowing Guillen to ramble on about geopolitics is stupid. Especially, when you consider the fact that he still used words like “admire” in reference to Fidel Castro.
Cuban-Americans have every right to be upset with Ozzie Guillen, and it is hard to believe that a press conference will do much to change that. However, even though we can’t argue the context, we can argue the sincerity. Of course Ozzie doesn’t “love” Fidel Castro any more than he “loves” cheese or gardening, love being an operative word that we seem to use all too liberally.
Ozzie Guillen has been a windbag, and will likely continue to be a windbag, which is why giving him the pulpit of a press conference to explain himself is like giving a child a blowtorch, and the mixture between contrition and stupidity is extremely flammable.
Now, we’re all just standing around waiting for the fire brigade and Ozzie’s apology was just a handheld fire extinguisher. I hope it made a dent and Ozzie Guillen isn’t engulfed in the flames of his own lunacy, but I doubt it.