When former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen took over as manager of the Miami Marlins, many thought that it was a perfect fit, considering his Latin background in a city known for its diverse community and deep ties to Cuba.
On Tuesday, Miami suspended Guillen for 5 games for remarks he made regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro during an interview with Time magazine that was published last week.
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"I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill him the last 60 years, but he is still there."
As soon as the article was published, the backlash began.
Latin organizations called for the Marlins to fire Guillen for his thoughtless comments, and at least one Cuban-American advocacy group, Vigilia Mambisa, stated they would boycott Miami games and stage protests at Marlins Park until Guillen was canned.
Oh, and by the way, this is actually the second time that Guillen has shown some form of admiration for Castro. In an interview with Men's Journal back in 2008, he called Castro the toughest man he's ever known:
"Fidel Castro. He's a BS dictator and everybody's against him, and he still survives, has power. Still has a country behind him. Everywhere he goes they roll out the red carpet. I don't admire his philosophy. I admire him."
At a press conference Tuesday, Guillen repeatedly apologized, saying that what he intended to say didn't come out the right way.
"The interpretation didn't come out as I wanted," he said. "I was thinking in Spanish and I said the wrong thing in English."
Is it just me, or does something stupid come out of Guillen's mouth every time he opens it?
With that, let me get to my point.
Now, I'm not a political guy, but you don't have to be to know that Guillen's comments were extremely stupid considering he currently represents the team in a community where Cuban-Americans have settled after escaping from the oppressive Castro regime. There's no doubt that Guillen's words left an indelible sting in the hearts of Cuban-Americans throughout the country that have sought to put their past behind them.
Having said all that, they, and everyone else, just need to consider the source. And also, remember what country his remarks took place in.
This isn't the first, nor will it be the last time that Guillen makes an asinine statement. He consistently comes off as a guy with about a fifth grade education, and that's never going to change. For better or worse, it's who he is.
Were his statements out of line? Possibly. But be that as it may, the man is entitled to his opinion. And since we are in America, you know, the supposed land of freedom of speech, he has every right to publicly state said opinion. In the grand scheme of things, they're just words, and the only thing they really did was make Guillen look like what the majority of us already knew him to be. Foolish.
The man apologized. His apology seemed sincere. That should be enough. Should he be fired? No. As a matter of fact, if the Marlins deemed what he said only worthy of a slap on the wrist 5-game suspension, in all actuality, he shouldn't have been suspended either. A lousy 5-games out of a 162-game schedule is so minuscule, that it was more of an insult to the act of discipline itself as opposed to being a legitimate punishment for someone.
I'm sure some people will take offense to what I've written here, and that's their right. They'll assume that I love me some Ozzie, which couldn't be further from the truth. They'll assume that I'm half-ass uneducated, or that I'm racist, or that I'm just not up to speed with what's going on in the real world.
None of which would be accurate.
What I am, is a person that still recognizes the fact that this is a free country. A country in which you can say what is on your mind. Speak freely. Where regardless of how ignorant your point of view may be, you still have the right to express it.
Anyone who is offended by this article has the right to feel that way, just like I have the right to invoke my freedom of speech.
I'll say any damn thing I want. After all, this is still America.
So props to Ozzie Guillen. Not because you made some sort of ground-breaking statement or because I agree with your extremely narrow-minded beliefs, but because you're one of the few remaining people left out there that still has the guts to speak his or her mind.
Asinine or not.