Ozzie Guillen’s remarks about Fidel Castro may have been misinterpreted, as Guillen has suggested. Or they may have just been witless. In either case, he blames himself. As he said in his press conference, “I had one thing in mind, and I said something else.” Certainly what he said about Fidel Castro was ill-considered, or, more likely, given Guillen’s history, not considered. What a furor his words have caused.
Various Miami officials and outraged others want Guillen fired. In Tuesday’s press conference, the Miami Marlins manager was questioned not only about his recent remarks, but about various past politically-charged statements and activities, including his appearance on a radio program with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez several years ago. Guillen could legitimately have wondered what one incident had to do with the other. Instead he said “I prefer to die before voting for Hugo Chavez,” which seems a tad extreme.
Guillen characterized himself as “bad,” “guilty,” “embarrassed” and “stupid,” although not dumb. “You can’t do the job I do if you’re dumb,” he said.
I hope the mea culpa will be sufficient, even for the members of the Cuban-American community with the most compelling reasons for resenting anybody who says anything even vaguely positive about Fidel Castro. I hope the cries for Ozzie Guillen’s head will subside, and that he will be able to reassume his duties as manager of the Marlins.
Beyond that, wouldn’t it be great if more people shrugged off Guillen’s comments as the consequence of the convergence of a guy inclined to speak before he thinks in either of his languages with a country in which free speech carries no penalty, but in which employers do not gladly suffer embarrassment that might cost them at the gate?
At a gigantic Easter service, Tim Tebow of the New York Jets took issue with pro athletes who say they aren’t role models.
“Yes, you are,” Tebow said. “You’re just not good ones.”
But not everybody agrees with that. Some of us are content to watch players play and coaches coach and managers manage without endowing them with any gifts or powers other than the ones specifically associated with their work. Ozzie Guillen has acknowledged his mistake. If the acknowledgement sometimes sounded awkward, hey, so did the remarks that generated the controversy. Did his detractors expect contrition to mysteriously beget eloquence?
May mercy and forgiveness prevail in Miami and beyond.