Miami Marlins Suspend Ozzie Guillen over Fidel Castro Comments: Will He Survive?

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 05:  Ozzie Guillen the manager of the Miami Marlins talks to the media before the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 5, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ozzie Guillen finds himself in hot water. In a Time Magazine interview given in the offseason, Guillen raised eyebrows when he made a statement about Fidel Castro. Guillen stated, “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****r is still here.”

The Miami Marlins front office denounced Guillen’s comments by issuing the following statement. Via “There is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro. He 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.”

This morning the Marlins announced Guillen would be suspended for five games as a result of the comments he made

Guillen held a widely anticipated press conference. He stated, “I am very embarrassed, I am very sad.”

He continued, “I feel like I embarrassed my Latin community. I have hurt a lot of people and I’m aware of that.”

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Even though he came off very contrite it is enough to keep his job long-term?

With respect to American tragedies, Guillen’s reminds me of the rise of American slavery.  The atrocities that were committed over a series of centuries have left a scar on American culture and sport.  Many African-Americans still suffer from the residue of slavery’s ugly past.

German dictator Adolf Hitler was one of the most despicable human beings who ever graced this earth. Under Hitler’s leadership he slaughtered millions of Jews were under the banner of Aryan Supremacy. Without question his acts were utterly disgusting.

In the realm of American sports the Guillen episode reminds me of the late Marge Schott. Schott, who was the former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, made reference to several of her players (Eric Davis and Dave Parker) as “million-dollar ni*g*rs” in 1992.

Schott also made positive references to Hitler. Following her comments Schott was ultimately fined and suspended.  She was not allowed to run the day-to-day operations of the club as well.

Before I continue folks the latter are events that have actually occurred and perhaps they stir some uncomfortable feelings.  While some resist feeling such uneasiness instead of ignoring issues such as race and culture embrace the negativity and learn from it.

Moving on, it is very plausible Guillen should have been fired for what he said about Castro. He’s a Latin manger leading a team in Miami who just built a new stadium in the heart of “Little Havana.” 

There have been a lot of people who have horrific experiences that’s transpired within their culture under the banner of oppression. Castro was a horrid dictator who has a lot of blood on his hands from those he’s killed, jailed, and forced to leave their homeland of Cuba. Any time one references the likes of a Hitler, Osama bin Laden or a Fidel Castro, one has to take the comments seriously.

Guillen suggested during his lengthy press conference that he was thinking in Spanish but speaking in English and his comments did not come out the way he intended. 

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 10:  Protesters rally outside a press conference held by Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen for comments made about Fidel Castro at Marlins Park on April 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins suspended Guillen for five games over his
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In being fair Guillen is Venezuelan and English is not his first language. If you have heard him speak it becomes clear his English still needs some work.

Having said that, isn’t it possible that Guillen was not embracing Fidel Castro but merely trying to make a point about his longevity?

Is it possible that Guillen was trying to suggest—even though this person has done some despicable things under his regime—this guy somehow keeps on breathing?  

Two years ago Guillen was very vocal the new immigration law in Arizona.  Major League Baseball held it’s All-Star in Arizona where the controversial legislation was passed that was deemed racist against the Latino community. 

Guillen boycotted the Midsummer Classic. When still the Chicago White Sox manager he stated, "I’m not going. I have to support my people, people I believe in. If those people were bad people, hell no I wouldn’t support them; but they’re good people,"  

Guillen also addressed how Latin players are often treated unfairly when compared to the Japanese players: "Don't take this wrong, but they take advantage of us. We bring a Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid...go to the minor leagues, (expletive.) Good luck. And it's always going to be like that. It's never going to change. But that's the way it is."

Based on the fact Guillen has typically been outspoken during his career as a player and manager, he has more leeway to address certain topics than most. But as it was stated earlier Guillen, I don’t believe he was praising Castro for the type of leader he was.

He was trying to use Castro as an analogy of someone who—despite his obvious shortcomings and being hated by many—has found a way to persevere. 

From listening to the vast majority of the press conference, I find Guillen to be remorseful for his mistake. Now time will tell how the Miami community responds to determine whether the storm will grow bigger or begin to subside.

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