Ozzie Guillen has outdone himself this time. The outspoken manager of the Miami Marlins recently found himself in hot water for making another absurd, off-the-wall and offensive comment. This time, Guillen felt the need to express his opinions on Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
To paraphrase, Guillen praised the Cuban dictator for his avoidance of being overthrown during his 60-year reign over the country.
At last count, Miami happens to be the location of over 850,000 Cuban-Americans, the most of any city in America. Not surprisingly, Guillen’s comment did not sit well with them.
Nice choice, Ozzie.
A contrite Guillen held a press conference to try to clear his name, claiming his quote was misconstrued and misunderstood.
“This is the worst mistake of my life,” Guillen said. “I’m here on my knees to apologize.”
Still, many Cuban-Americans in the city and others all over the country are still shocked and offended by the remark. Some called for Guillen to be suspended for the year, and many others called for him to be fired immediately.
The Marlins organization released a statement expressing their disapproval, publicly reprimanding Guillen for his carelessness and suspending him for five games.
Yet the remarks can’t come as too big of a shock. This is the same manager who routinely launched into profanity-laced tirades in postgame interviews with his former team, the Chicago White Sox. In 2006, he was fined $20,000 by the MLB for directing a homosexual slur toward a Chicago newspaper reporter. Miami officials knew who they were hiring. From the moment his managerial duties began at Miami, the question was not a matter of “if” he would say something controversial, but “when.”
Now the debate begins over whether or not the punishment fits the crime. Some cry foul, saying that his liberties of free speech are being infringed upon.
This argument doesn’t hold water, though. Private organizations have the right to punish employees if they judge their conduct to be detrimental to their image. As long as the offender isn’t being reprimanded solely because of their religion, culture or gender, the company has the power to discipline how they feel necessary. Guillen said something offensive, the Marlins realized that, and they took action how they saw fit. That’s their right, and they used it accordingly.
Others say the punishment was too lenient and that Guillen should have been fired. I see it this way: if the organization wants to risk alienating a large portion of their fan base and is comfortable going forward with a manager who has the potential to launch into another offensive tirade in the near future, then more power to them. Perhaps keeping Guillen as manager is punishment enough.
For now, the Marlins are hoping a situation such as this doesn’t happen again. If it does, Guillen will be gone, and he knows it.
Guillen praised Castro’s longevity, but he probably should be more focused on his own.