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Let’s ignore for a moment that Guillen amended the statement to “I respect Fidel Castro.” Let’s ignore for a moment that Guillen apologized time and time again for his comments.
Let’s even ignore, technically, that Guillen did not break any laws, cause anyone physical harm, or cheat the game of baseball.
Let’s look at this for what it really is: an opinion that is best reserved for private – not public – conversations.
While what Guillen said was insensitive, inconsiderate, and inappropriate, this is not an Ozzie Guillen problem. Guillen should not have been suspended those five games without pay for an opinion. If Guillen made the same statement about an African dictator, or a Russian dictator, or a German dictator, the Marlins would barely even have noticed. The only reason this has become national news, and the only reason I am writing about this, is because Castro was a dictator in Cuba – and many residents of Miami are Cuban, and more generally Latino. This is not an Ozzie Guillen problem.
This is a Miami Marlins problem.
Just a few weeks ago, it was reported that Marlins President David Samson called the Miami taxpayers “stupid” for approving the construction of a new stadium for the team, alluding to the fact that the Marlins got away with what some might call highway robbery.
During the offseason, the Marlins gave obscene amounts of money to oft-injured Jose Reyes, pitcher Mark Buehrle, reliever Heath Bell, and the forever volatile Carlos Zambrano. They also made an offer to Albert Pujols that would set them back right around $200 million (an offer Pujols declined).
It was clear, even months ago, that the Miami Marlins are far more interested in filling their shiny new stadium with the “stupid” taxpayers who live there than they are with winning baseball games. Their off-season acquisitions, while impressive monetarily speaking, were impractical and unnecessary.
And then there was Guillen, a Latino manager hired in a town with a massive Latino population.
Guillen, a manager with a reputation for saying what he wants when he wants, did exactly what the baseball world expected him to do: put his foot in his mouth.
While the Marlins continue to act appalled at the Castro comments, their act is becoming more and more transparent. They knew the manager they hired was liable to say something inappropriate, they knew he was a lightning rod, and they knew he was anything but afraid to speak his mind regardless of the topic.
Now, Francis Suarez, Chairman of the Miami City Commission, has called for Guillen to lose his job. Suarez claims to be speaking in defense of the very same “stupid” citizens of Miami that he allowed the Marlins organization to rip off.
While Suarez looks to secure his favorable position with the citizens of Miami, the Marlins continue to promote the three ring circus that is their “professional” baseball team. It appears as if everything is going exactly to plan.
Are Guillen’s Castro comments inappropriate? Yes. But are the Marlins going to lose any serious business because of it? No, and as a matter of fact, they haven’t gotten this much national coverage since they won the World Series in 2003.
Are Guillen’s Castro comments inappropriate? Yes. And Francis Suarez will continue to demand the Marlins take further action against Guillen because, well, it quite simply makes him look good to the Latino population of Miami.
The Marlins are in the news, and Miami’s political figures have an unexpected platform. As both parties laugh all the way to the bank, Marlins fans (the ones everyone are “looking out for”) are left to wonder whether or not the Marlins are really a team they can root for, or a team they should turn on.