Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ozzie's Marge Schott Moment

As a Twins fan, I always enjoyed it when Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox were on the schedule. The games were usually a lot of fun and Ozzie was liable to say and do anything. In a world with a lot of vanilla managers -- quick, give me a memorable Trey Hillman quote -- Ozzie was always a hoot. And since the Twins usually beat the Whities like a drum, it was all good.

Over the offseason Ozzie left Chicago for Miami, taking the helm of the new-look Miami Marlins, who have big plans these days. They have left the mausoleum of a football stadium where they had played in their earlier history, moving to a somewhat garish new stadium in downtown Miami. They also now have a Yankees-sized payroll. Ozzie, who won a World Series for the Whities in 2005, would be the ringmaster of this South Florida circus.

And of course, since Ozzie Guillen is Ozzie, he remains liable to say anything. Only this time, he's said something that's far more problematic than criticizing the umpires or calling Nick Punto a [expletive] pirahna:

 "I love Fidel Castro ... I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last sixty years but that [expletive] is still there.''

Now, if you are the manager of the San Francisco Giants, and you say something nice about, say, Che Guevara, you might get by with it. But praising Castro, even in a backhanded way, is about as big a no-no as any public figure can muster, especially in Miami, a city where hundreds of thousands of people whose families have suffered at the hands of Castro reside.

For their part, the Marlins were having none of it:

The Marlins issued this statement: "We are aware of the article. There is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro. He is a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than fifty years. We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today."
And you would think that Ozzie would understand all this, even from his own experiences. When he was with the White Sox, he managed a number of Cuban defectors, including Jose Contreras, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo, just within the last few years. I would imagine these individuals probably had a story or two to share. And given that Ozzie himself is from Venezuela, where one of Castro's acolytes, Hugo Chavez, has been driving his nation to ruin for over a decade, it's really hard to understand.

I'm reminded of what happened to Marge Schott, the crackpot who used to own the Cincinnati Reds, when she told an astonished ESPN reporter the following about Adolf Hitler:

"Everything you read, when he came in [to power] he was good...They built tremendous highways and got all the factories going...Everybody knows he was good at the beginning but he just went too far."
Baseball quickly ran Marge Schott off after that incident, mostly because she was bad for business. Praising Castro is pretty bad for business, too. Ozzie may survive this episode, but if he does, he's going to be on a very short tether for the rest of his career.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

Praising Castro isn't beyond the pale everywhere; it's pretty normal in certain circles. Perhaps Ozzie just lost track of where he was.

W.B. Picklesworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I think that Ozzie was really talking about Bill Castro the former Brewer who was also one tough hombre.

Joey said...

And a 5-game suspension has now been handed down.

I think he's fun for baseball ("fun" and "good" aren't necessarily the same...I don't know if I think he's good or not) but he definitely gets the best of himself sometimes.

Night Writer said...

I thought he was referring to the ever-resilient Juan Castro.

Night Writer said...

Joey, MLB isn't up for a lot of fun, good or not. That's why another notable Cuban - Mark, that is - is still on the outside looking in, despite his billions and desire to buy a team.

CousinDan 54915 said...

Castro is Miam's Hitler, and somewhere in there is the reason that Mark Cuban does not own a team yet. I hope Dale Sveum doesn't get asked about Palestine this summer.

Brian said...

The more stories like this I read, the less I ever want to have being the public face of anything or anyone ever be part of my job.

Gino said...

no fan of castro here, but i always enjoy watching the agitation of cubans in miami when ever his name pops up.

Brian said...

the agitation of cubans

How can you tell?