As DailySkew Baseball predicted, Ozzie Guillen said something controversial. The only shocking thing was that it occurred during Opening Week. The new Miami Marlins manager told Time Magazine the following:
“I love Fidel Castro. I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherf- is still here.”
I read the entire original Time article; the context is fair- it wasn’t a hack job- it was a small piece about the new stadium and the controversial manager, which is exactly why owner Jeffrey Loria and his stepson President David Samson acquired Guillen: publicity, which equals buzz, sales, website hits, ratings, and newspaper coverage.
As far as Ozzie saying those comments: he was projecting his persecution complex. Ozzie loves attention, loves saying stupid things, and loves the fallout. It always somehow increases his checking account. Ozzie believes in unrestricted freedom of speech, and goes through the apology phase like clockwork. So many members of the media and fans had tried to “knock” him off by getting him fired with the White Sox for his comments about gays, dictators, and players, but to no avail. So he respects Castro for surviving so long, too. Skewed, right?
The irony is that Guillen would probably already have been shot in Cuba if he was a manager or player there. Characters are NOT welcome there, and neither is freedom of speech. Michael Moore doesn’t get it, either. Moore couldn’t do his documentaries there if he was a native, unless they were pure socialist propaganda films. [Wait a minute, maybe Moore WOULD be the same there.]
But Guillen’s comments were too much for South Florida, home of Cuban exiles and immigrants who are affected by Castro’s reign of terror each and every day. You wouldn’t see that by watching a Michael Moore documentary, but if you actually knew the Cuban community in South Florida, you would know that Guillen will never be forgiven, and boycotts may ensue. At worst, riots may occur and Guillen may be physically harmed by certain groups. Can any good come out of this? Well, the Marlins generally believe any publicity is good publicity, although they did come down hard on Logan Morrison last season, and fired manager Joe Girardi years ago for expressing his anger at Loria.
Guillen has since apologized and the Marlins released a press release apologizing as well.
My take: the Marlins knew what they were getting with Ozzie and encouraged him to be himself. The Marlins will only take action if they believe money will be lost. Many Cubans already knew about Ozzie’s positive comments about Venezuelan strongman Chavez, and they believed Ozzie was a closet communist and not a conservative Republican like he claims.
Here’s what DailySkew co-founder Tony Vahl said:
“Another example of: “Who cares what athletes say about topics outside of sports?”
The Marlins love the WWE-style heat. They are hoping riled up Cubans will buy tickets to boo Guillen. I’m looking forward to their desire backfiring; the protesters will line the street, calling for Guillen’s head.
I drive by a giant picture of Castro on a coffin every so often. I think it’s on Flagler or Calle Ocho, west of downtown. Guillen would have been better off saying he’s a fan of Satan in that magazine.”
I also spoke with two Cuban men in Miami, one was in his 50s and the other in his 70s. Both lived in Castro’s Cuba; the older man spent 30 years there.
“People are killed every day in Cuba, or are arrested. People still die on the rafts to escape Castro. This is not something out of a history book, and not something that is thousands of miles away. It’s right here.
Cubans in the U.S. send money back to Cuba…Castro takes a commission from it. Family is left behind. It’s painful.
The only way someone can defend Castro is if they selectively ignore what happens in Cuba: Castro created and maintained a system to keep himself in power. It’s not about text book socialism; communism just happens to be the easiest form of government to keep everyone dependent on him. If capitalism worked for him to keep the people down, he’d do it. That’s why he flirted with the U.S. when he started out. But he was it wouldn’t work for his selfish goals.
The police will arrest you if you speak out. You can be accused of anything. You have no property; the State owns it. They own you. This is not voluntary. The celebrities and others who support Castro ignore this. They blame it on the boycott.
Every country can trade with Cuba, except the U.S. They ignore that, too. The economy has always been in ruins since he took over- much worse than native born Americans could conceive in terms of day to day existence. If you went there, you would think you are in 1955 in a third world country. Really- the building, cars, and technology are so old.
You can be a libertarian and say that the U.S. has no right to interfere with another country, yet time and time again the U.S. does invade and overthrow countries.
You can be an anti-government person and blame the U.S.’s foreign policy for supporting Batista, and that Castro is the U.S.’s fault. Yet time and time again the U.S. will “clean up” its mess.
You can say that socialism in theory is a fair and just system. But you would be hard pressed to show me a country where communism doesn’t hurt the people much worse than capitalism/democracy.
There are pro-Castro businesses and groups in Miami. If you follow the money trail you can see that their very business and existence is dependent on Castro remaining in power, from selling phone cards to wiring money. You need to be very intelligent to filter through all the things you hear in Florida when it comes from pro-Castro Cubans. They do that so they can earn a living. The Hollywood people that support Castro just don’t know any better.
The bottom line is that when Guillen said he loves Castro, that is equivalent to a public figure in Israel saying that he loves Hitler.
Guillen can say what he wants, but so can his critics. They, too, have the right to boycott.
The Marlins are very sensitive about the area when the stadium is, and had told local police to crack down and ticket the residents who park their cars in front of their own apartments or homes during game days to prevent fans from skipping paying the official parking lot. (It has been a tradition for fans to pay residents to park in their drive way.) The Marlins told the police to move away the vendors in the streets as well.
So if certain people use the Guillen incident to cause a riot near the stadium, national TV crews and social media will cover it, and it will scare people from visiting Miami to see the Marlins. This will result in decreased ticket sales.
We’ve seen people’s offices get firebombed for a lot less down here when it comes to Castro comments. More than likely this will get filed as “Ozzie being Ozzie” and the fans and media will focus on the ballgames, but mixing politics and sports is not good for the people. Cubans in Florida don’t want to think about Castro while watching baseball.
Ultimately it will blow over because baseball is a daily sport, but his statements have justifiably offended many people here, and we have the right to express that with our words as well.”
Current TV’s Vanguard journalists went to Cuba and created this short documentary with exclusive footage about Cuba’s youth: