Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ozzie Guillen garners the wrong kind of attention

 If you're not following Ozzie Guillen on Twitter, you should be.

Whatever problems you might already be having with the new manager (and trust me, I understand if you have concerns), you can at least rest assured that it could be much worse. The Red Sox could have gone the route of Marlins owners Jeffrey Loria and David Samson and hired the one and only Ozzie Guillen.

In case you haven't heard, Guillen recently did an interview with Time Magazine, and, as usual, he had some questionable things to say, most infamously, "I love Fidel Castro."

What Guillen was trying to get across is that he admires the Cuban dictator's survival and longevity, not his philosophy of governing, but the intent doesn't matter.  The Marlins are at the beginning of a new era: they just spent huge amounts of money in the offseason for the biggest name free agents (and for Guillen himself), and opened up the season on national television with the unveiling of their new $500 million ballpark in the Little Havana section of Miami.

Yes, that's correct, Little Havana. New manager Ozzie Guillen just announced his love for despised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the city with the largest concentration of Cuban refugees in the country, just as the Marlins are trying to recruit them into the fanbase.  It would be like walking into the Upper West Side Jewish Center and announcing to a group of Holocaust survivors that you loved Hitler, then asking them to please support your business.

Needless to say, the fallout has been immediate and messy. Marlins ownership has suspended Guillen for five games for his comments, and the Cuban population in Miami is livid and calling for a termination of Guillen's contract.

It's a safe bet that the Marlins ownership brought Guillen in to garner them some much-needed publicity in a state that is mostly apathetic about baseball.  It's an even safer bet that this was not what they had in mind.

So I understand the frustrations with Bobby V.'s bullpen handling, or the angst about his radio show gig in New York - but at least he hasn't professed his love and admiration for any evil, murderous dictators lately.

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