Free Ozzie Guillen!

Free Ozzie Guillen!

The newly revamped Miami Marlins just announced that they are suspending their new manager, Ozzie Guillen, for five games because of this comment made in a recent Time magazine interview:

"I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen said in the article. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there."

Obviously, praising Fidel Castro in Miami is not really a great way to endear yourself to the hometown crowd. But in partial defense of Guillen, he didn’t say Castro was a great leader, just that it’s impressive that he’s still alive and — somewhat — in power. That’s as undeniably true as the statement was undeniably insensitive to Castro’s victims. 

I’m not really sure what the Marlins were expecting from their manager. Guillen has appeared on Hugo Chavez’s radio program in his native Venezuela and said of the Castro ally,  "Not too many people like the president. I do." His statements about Chavez are a little confusing. In September, he denied ever supporting Chavez, saying that his wife hates the president and asking "If I was supporting Chavez, do you think I would be manager of the Marlins?" But this week he said: "I respect (President) Obama, I respect (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez because I always respect people."

More importantly, Guillen is a famous loudmouth, who basically told Ben McGrath of the New Yorker last week that he believes part of his job as manager is to suck up as much media attention as possible so players can focus on the game. Mission accomplished!

(Notably, Guillen was not suspended in 2006 when he called sportswriter Jay Mariotti a "fag" then told the media that he’s obviously not homophobic because he goes to Madonna concerts and WNBA games.)

Guillen became a U.S. citizen in 2006 and has a legal right to express his stupid opinions. If the Marlins management expected that he would understand that certain topics were off-limits, that’s a bigger miscalculation than that ugly home run statue.