The Miami Marlins have suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games for comments made in which he expressed respect for Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Miami has a very large Cuban population and the majority of the population detests Castro. It could be the worst thing that Guillen could have said, since this is his first year on the job and the Marlins recently opened up a new ballpark. They need the locals to come out and support the team. The Cuban population will not back a manager that supports a dictator that has suppressed their families for decades. Is five games enough to quench the fans’ anger? Will Guillen finally learn from his mistake?
This is not the first time that Guillen has been caught in a scandal that involved his mouth. He is extremely blunt and his opinions are usually a tough pill to swallow. His personality is the reason why he is no longer the manager of the Chicago White Sox. He lead them to their first World Series win since the “Black Sox scandal.” GM Kenny Williams finally had enough and had to let his former teammate go to another team. He had a couple sub-par seasons, but nothing that would be deemed as bad. If he kept his mouth shut, Guillen would have been entrenched as the manager of the White Sox. Keeping one’s mouth shut isn’t in Guillen’s instruction manual, so he landed in Miami as their skipper.
ESPN’s Dan LeBatard said it best, “Fidel Castro is our Adolph Hitler,” in reference to the Cuban population in South Florida. He added, “even a pro-Castro music act cannot play in Miami,” which sums up the community’s united front against the Cuban dictator. Guillen’s comments sting much harder in that area than anywhere else in America. Immigrants from Cuba float on rafts and risk their lives to make it to Florida. If you hate a man enough to risk your life and float on a piece of rubber for hundreds of miles, you’re not a huge fan of Guillen at this moment.
The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games and bench coach Joey Cora will take over during that period. We have seen authority figures come down on Guillen for his comments, but nothing has changed. He started his managerial career with the Marlins and he was making stupid comments during that time. Dan Patrick admitted that he interviewed Guillen during that time. He had to omit part of the interview, because he said something very derogatory about a player on his team. After the interview, the Marlins public relations representative came over and said that he didn’t mean that last part and that Patrick should leave it out. The quote didn’t make it into ESPN magazine, because Patrick thought that it was off-the-record and he didn’t want to take advantage of Guillen. This was only the beginning of his miscues as a team’s public figure.
Guillen publicly apologized, in English & Spanish, for his latest miscue during a nationally televised press conference. He admitted that this has really bothered him and he couldn’t sleep for the last few days. Guillen said, “I feel like I betrayed my Latin community,” which considering the circumstances, is an accurate statement. He looked defeated and physically bothered by the public backlash.
Miami Marlins fans will have to walk a very thin line over the next few years. Guillen will turn the franchise around, but he’ll say a few dumb things along the way. You’ll have to learn to push the mute button when he addresses the media. Marlins fans may need to confide in a few White Sox fans over the next few years. What Guillen said was extremely offensive and ignorant, but as a fan, you need to decide if you will be okay if he messes up again…because it will happen.