Ozzie Guillen, the new manager of the new Miami Marlins, is in some Cold War trouble. Guillen was recently quoted in an interview with Time magazine that he loves and respects Fidel Castro because he has been able to survive all this time with such a large number of people trying to kill Castro. Of all the people that deserve love and respect from a manger of a Major League Baseball club (or anyone for that matter), Fidel Castro, one of the last surviving Cold War era dictators, should be at the bottom of the list.
These comments did not go unnoticed. Guillen is the face of a team that resides outside Little Havana in Miami. Therefore, when he makes these comments, the large Cuban fan base in south Florida was listening. The interview unleashed a firestorm of criticism in the city and across the nation. The anger at Guillen was buttressed by MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s five-game suspension of Guillen.
One doesn’t need to know much about baseball to realize that it is a long season. One hundred sixty-two games, in fact, make up a typical season. It doesn’t make sense when the remedy for talking favorably about an oppressive dictator is to suspend Guillen for roughly three percent of the regular season. I think it should have been more.Suspending Guillen for a month’s worth of games would have sent a strong message to the usually loose-lipped Guillen and to the rest of Major League Baseball. As a sports fan, I know that the MLB is not supportive of Castro in any way. I fear that, to the outsider, the meager five-game suspension of Guillen may appear as a feeble attempt to condemn comments about the man that starved his country for almost fifty years.
The saddest part about the whole story is what the implications will be for the Marlins. What some called a last-ditch effort to save the team, the Marlins just changed names, uniforms, colors, managers and have a brand new stadium to play in. The usually stingy Marlins also opened some deep pockets this off-season, nailing big name free agents like Jose Reyes. When Guillen’s suspension is through, there will still be people in Miami outraged at his comments and the fans may take it out on the Marlins, just as Miami is working on remaking its image. Let’s hope, for the Marlins’ sake, they don’t.