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C'mon, Ozzie Guillen's a baseball manager, not a diplomat

April 10, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen is in hot water over remarks about Fidel Castro.
Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen is in hot water over remarks about Fidel… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

For such a small country, Cuba sure can cause a lot of angst in the United States. Just ask Ozzie Guillen.

Guillen expressed admiration for Cuban leader Fidel Castro in a recent Time magazine article.  For that, he was suspended from his job.

Who is Guillen? A diplomat? An elected official?

Naw, he’s a baseball manager, of the Miami Marlins.  And for his sins, he was suspended five games by his own team.

And you thought Al Gore got jobbed in Florida.

On Tuesday, Guillen walked the plank at a news conference:

"I was thinking in Spanish and I said it wrong in English," said Guillen, who answered questions in both his native Spanish and English during the press conference.

Guillen, from Venezuela, said repeatedly that he does not admire Castro -- "a person who has caused a lot of damage, a lot of pain," he said -- even if that's how his comments came out.

"I don't want to make any excuses," he said. "What I wanted to say was I was surprised Fidel Castro stayed in power so long."

Yeah, sure, Ozzie. 

I don’t speak Spanish, but apparently it’s a tricky language, so much so that when you mean to say “I hate Fidel Castro” it can come out “I love Fidel Castro.” (Even in English, there’s often little distance between love and hate, they say.)

Of course, Guillen has lots of company when it comes to Cuba and Castro.  JFK brought us to the brink of war over the island.  Presidential candidates must walk -- and talk -- a fine line with Cuban refugees because the state is electoral gold (see Al Gore, above).

Social Security may be the third rail of American politics, but apparently Cuba is the rail right next to it -- for politicians and baseball managers.

But really, let’s cut Guillen some slack.  At least he knows who Fidel Castro is.  Most baseball managers would’ve probably scratched their heads if asked about him and said something like “Castro?  Left-handed hitter, good power, right?  Used to be with the Dodgers?

“Is he available?”

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