What, you thought you were getting Henry Kissinger?
This is Ozzie Guillen, folks. He's an ex-baseball player. Now he stands in a dugout for a living.
The first time I ever talked to him, back when he was still a player, his face was smeared in postgame-spread barbecue sauce. He was sucking on a grape Popsicle. He was still in his underwear.
He's that guy.
If everything goes right for him all day long, the Miami Marlins will win a baseball game. Sometimes, if everything goes wrong for him all day long, the Marlins will still win a baseball game.
And that's it. That's his job. That's the best you could have hoped for.
Ever see a Little League coach who had season tickets to the local professional ballclub, a guy who almost played a little JV ball in high school, who by middle age acquired the notion he was the Tony La Russa of 9-and-under coaches?
Yeah, the guy who knows just enough baseball to be idiotically dangerous to the hardball development of your sons and daughters?
Well, that's Ozzie on most things outside of baseball.
So, and I say this with all respect to Cuban-Americans, Ozzie Guillen, Marlins fans, the First Amendment, the pitchfork-and-torch crowd and anyone else calling for Ozzie Guillen's head: Why do we care what Ozzie Guillen thinks – or says – about anything beyond his lineup card? The man wears pajamas for a living and possesses no authority on the subject of Fidel Castro or the people Castro abused. None.
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He doesn't speak for you. He does not represent Miami, no matter how large the M on his cap (and it is quite large). He does not shape opinions or change history or even, apparently, know anything about history. He is, bluntly, beneath the real pain suffered by Cubans and Cuban-Americans at the hands of Castro and his regime.
And that's sort of the beauty of living here. Guillen, like all of us, has the right to be a misinformed blockhead. The Marlins have the right to fire him. The fans have the right to stay home. And the rest of us have the right to identify him as a misinformed blockhead.
Be outraged. But, shocked?
Again, let's remember about whom we're talking. He's the, um, crazy guy from Chicago, the guy who'd say anything about anything, the guy Marlins fans absolutely had to have. The guy who manages a stinkin' baseball team. Outside a few hours every night, and certainly on this subject, he's the lost soul on the corner with the bullhorn. Walk around him. Keep moving. Avoid eye contact.
According to Time Magazine, Guillen said, "I love Fidel Castro."
Pathetic. Really pathetic.
"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."
We admire cockroaches for surviving a nuclear holocaust, too. We probably don't want them running our country.
You can hate Ozzie's opinion, if you like. You can even hate Ozzie. Have at it.
But do you hate his freedom to love what he loves?
Or to apologize for loving what he said he loves, which he claims he doesn't really love anymore, or never loved, or whatever he's saying today?
The Marlins released a statement that called Castro "a brutal dictator" and pointed out, "We live in a community filled with victims of his dictatorship, and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today."
Guillen will travel to Miami, meet the Cuban-American public, and ask for forgiveness.
He will stand out in front of the people, receive their scorn, confirm what a horrible human being Castro is, and say he was wrong, wrong, wrong.
When it is necessary, Guillen can be very good at the apology, too. He messed up. He'll say so.
"I want them to know I'm against everything 100 percent – I repeat it again – the way this man [has been] treating people for the last 60 years," he told reporters in Philadelphia on Monday.
Then, my guess is, this passes, however painfully and slowly, ending quite a first week for the Marlins. They lost some games. They subjected Muhammad Ali to that horrifying trip to the mound. They alienated everything their neighborhood believes in.
Maybe Guillen walks away a more sensitive person, a more aware man and a better neighbor to the folks in Miami. Maybe he'll also be seen for what he is, and we can all stop glorifying sports figures whose only qualifications for such regard is that they are sports figures.
Guillen should have known better. That he didn't, well, we should have known that.
No, he'll never be Hammerin' Hank Kissinger.
Kissinger, however, probably couldn't handle a bullpen. But, then, that was beneath him.
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