Big League Stew

Ozzie Guillen will fly to Miami for personal apology after cries for firing and suspension grow

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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(US Presswire)

It doesn't look like the controversy over Ozzie Guillen's Fidel Castro comments will be disappearing anytime soon.

The Miami Marlins motormouthed manager tried to make further amends on Sunday by personally apologizing to the team's Spanish-language broadcasters — both men were born in Cuba — but it doesn't seem to have calmed the uproar any. Guillen reportedly will now fly to Miami during the Marlins' off day on Tuesday to apologize for the comments at a news conference.

That news comes in the wake of a group of Cuban-Americans announcing plans to march on Marlins Park on Tuesday. The group is calling for a boycott of the team until Guillen steps down for saying in a Time Magazine interview that he loved and respected Castro, the former Cuban leader.

In the meantime, Guillen is still drawing plenty of criticism in the media. Columnist George Diaz, a Cuban native, said that Guillen's apology meant little to Cuban-Americans (even though Miami first baseman Gaby Sanchez, the son of Cuban exiles, says he thinks a lot is being made out of nothing.)

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, meanwhile, is calling for a month-long suspension for Guillen:

[Guillen is] alienating the very community that the Marlins are desperate to embrace. If the Marlins don't punish him now, when will they? Ask the Chicago White Sox, who allowed Guillen to get away with one indiscretion after another before finally deciding that the relationship needed to end.

The Marlins probably had pre-written apologies ready to cut and paste the day they hired Guillen, but his remarks on Castro were beyond the pale  ... Castro is a flashpoint for a community in which he has lived for 12 years.

With all respect to Rosenthal, a 30-day sitdown is ridiculous. Not only because it'd be a longer punishment than transgressions in baseball history that were much worse, but because it's not as if he directly endorsed the despicable methods (including obstruction of free speech) that Castro used to rule over the island country for more than half a century.

When I read Guillen's comments, I interpret them as the product of a rambling idiot unable to draw a distinction between the reality of Castro and the weird admiration our society has built up for fictional rogues who gave the middle finger to those who wanted them dead (i.e., Scarface, Tony Soprano). One day we're reading how Guillen says he gets drunk every night, win or lose, and the next we're expecting him to be well-versed on the societal implications of talking about Castro in Miami?

[RelatedMiami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen apologizes for Fidel Castro comment]

What's more, I'm willing to bet that Guillen's thoughts on Castro were likely one of 500 off-the-cuff  observations he made that day, whether it was  to a relief pitcher on his way to get treatment or in front of reporters with notepads and recorders. Serious question here: If Guillen doesn't have an adequate filter to judge what should and shouldn't come out of his mouth — if he's freely flowing from thoughts about dictators to the yacht he wants to buy — why are we assigning any value or judgment to his ramblings?

I don't want to be seen as condoning Guillen's comments here. And I don't want to praise the Marlins for acting like they had nothing to do with it either. When the two sides agreed to a four-year deal, the first bullet point should have been that Castro's name does not leave Guillen's lips for any reason the entire time he wears a Marlins uniform.

[Video: Miami Marlins have fish tanks behind home plate and much more]

But with Guillen exposing himself as completely ignorant to the issues involved less than a week into his first season, I think the immediate loss of respect at his new workplace is a worse punishment than any suspension could possibly bring. Taking away his Marlins hat and replacing it with a dunce cap until the All-Star break seems perfectly fitting.

Make sure you're ready for the season ahead ...
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