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The Gun Show || Freedom of Speech or Lack Thereof?

Another Issue in the Unfiltered World of Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen

default article imageIn an average baseball conversation, do you normally discuss terms like riots, communism, dictators, misinterpretation and oppression? Well this is not out of the ordinary in today’s baseball world after Ozzie Guillen, the new Miami Marlins manager made extremely controversial statements to Time magazine.

“I love Fidel Castro,” he said. “A lot of people have wanted to kill [him] for the last 60 years, but that (SOB) is still here.”

Immediately, the Cuban and Cuban-American communities went into mayhem. Prominent figures in all walks of life have called for his resignation. Riots were scheduled to appear outside of the Marlins’ new stadium in the Little Havana section of Miami.

MLB officials were also disgusted with the statements, handing Guillen a five game suspension.

“Major League Baseball supports the decision by the Marlins to suspend Ozzie Guillen. As I have often said, Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities. All of our 30 Clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve. Mr. Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game,” said Bud Selig in a prepared statement on the issue.

Upon learning about his suspension and the devastating effects his comments had on the baseball community, Guillen issued a disheartened apology. Many even came to question the authenticity of the apology.

He blamed the controversy on a Spanish to English translation failure. “I don’t want to make excuses, but I meant that I was surprised Fidel Castro stayed in power so long. That’s what was missing in the translation. … I’m not saying the journalist was wrong. I was wrong. I was thinking in Spanish and I said it wrong in English,” said Guillen.

In further hopes of clearing out the air, Guillen also said, “Be assured that I’m against [the way] that [Fidel Castro] thinks, the way he treats [the Cuban] people and how he has treated their country for a long time. I’m against it 100 percent. I’m not crazy or stupid or ignorant to say that I love anybody. Not only has he hurt the Cuban people, but many others, including Venezuela. To those who were hurt or misunderstood or [took] it the way they want to take it, to those people I will apologize. I will apologize if I’ve hurt someone’s feelings. I am 100 percent against the way this man has treated people for the past 60 years.”

Trying to cover Guillen’s tracks, the Marlins organization also issued a statement on the issue, hoping to diffuse the situation and lessen the negative media attention on the team, especially as they take part in their inaugural season at their new stadium.

“Castro is a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship, and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today,” they said.

Joe Martinez, who is running for the mayor of Miami, called for Guillen’s job. According to him, Guillen’s apology was not heart-felt and seemed forced because the organization pushed it. Many feel the same way.
After apologizing, and hopefully recognizing the scope of his statements, Ozzie said that the hardest part about the situation was apologizing to “Felo” Ramirez, the Marlins’ Spanish radio play-by-play announcer. Ramirez, born in 1921, has been the announcer in Florida since 1993. Also in his time, he’s seen the oppression in Cuba and lived through its hardships. So to him, the comments made by the Venezuelan native were quite uncalled for. He told a Yahoo! Sports reporter that they were really “not pleasant to hear.” He also said he’d like to see some remorse from Guillen and for him to take action on the situation.

Albeit, Ozzie Guillen has always been controversial, using homophobic words to describe journalists and admitting to getting drunk after every game. But this time around, controversy was taken to a whole new (unnecessary) level.

These days, no matter the subject, there is probably a controversial Ozzie Guillen comment out there about it. Personally, I would not expect things to change much in the future. Ozzie will always be Ozzie. Whether he remains a Miami Marlin, well lets just say that this was a big ‘strike-one.’