This is the United States, and your First Amendment right says that you have the freedom to say whatever you want.
But that doesn’t mean you should.
Ozzie Guillen has been the manager of the Miami Marlins for five games. Only one of those games has been at the new Marlins Stadium. The Marlins actually traded for the manager, who coached the Chicago White Sox last season.
They gave up draft picks to land Guillen on top of paying him millions, making a statement that this is the direction they wanted to go with the image of a revamped franchise.
And then, Ozzie said something on-the-record that just can’t be said.
“I love Fidel Castro … I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still there.” (Source: Time Magazine)
“He said the worst possible thing he can say,” sportswriter Dan Le Batard (a Cuban-American) said on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
So the Marlins, who now play their baseball games in Little Havana, have an entire chunk of the fanbase that feels alienated. It’s a piece of the fanbase whose backyard they moved into.
With that in mind, the Marlins moved quickly to punish Guillen for his comments.
#Marlins announce five-game suspension for Guillen.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 10, 2012
The Marlins have two more games in Philadelphia, and then they will return home to play the Houston Astros. Guillen will not coach in either series, and that’s a good idea. The franchise needs to give their fans a chance to cool off and decide whether or not to accept the apology Guillen issued.
Of course, the apology itself probably didn’t do much to smooth things over — rather than saying he was wrong to say what he said, Guillen said his comments were taken out of context.
A franchise like the Marlins, known as one of the handful of baseball teams that routinely pulls comically-small crowds for their home games, can’t afford to have a group of people protesting the team.
Especially when it’s a people that makes up the majority in the areas surrounding the stadium.
I’m not a Cuban-American, so I’m not even going to try to understand how hurtful Guillen’s comments were. I can’t say whether the suspension was too strict or too lenient because I don’t have family members that fled the tyrannic rule of Fidel Castro.
But I will say this — the Marlins knew what they were getting in their new manager. They might not have seen this coming, but could they have really ruled it out?
Not if you know Guillen’s track record with speaking before thinking.
“I was hired to manage the ballclub, not talk politics,” Guillen said.
And that’s what their skipper needs to do.