Do you remember back when Dallas Cowboy’s head coach Bill Parcells referred to surprise/trick plays as “Jap plays”? Odds are that many of you forgot about that or don’t even remember the incident at all.
It was a stupid, kinda racist, insensitive comment—and many people found it funny. While the media beat Parcells up over the comment afterwards, those beat reporters that were in front of Parcells laughed out loud.
There are two reasons why Parcells was forgiven. One, and most importantly, he’s a winner. When you win, fans quickly forget about the stupid things you say.
The second reason is that if you’re going to make fun of someone, make sure to aim those comments at a group of people that won’t put up too much of a stink about it. Since there wasn’t much of a Japanese contingent in Dallas, and since his team had won 10 games for the first time in several years, the comment was eventually swept under the rug.
That brings us to Ozzie Guillen.
The Miami Marlins manager is one of the most insane coaches in the history of professional American athletics. The dude can’t help but put his foot in his mouth with idiotic comment after idiotic comment.
His latest gem came in a Time magazine interview, where he said that he “loved” and “respected” Cuban dictator Fidel Castro because the man had been dodging assassination attempts for a half century. Mind you, Guillen, a Venezuelan, has also had positive things to say about Hugo Chavez, before flip-flopping on those statements.
Now if Guillen was the manager of the, say, Houston Astros or Seattle Mariners, this wouldn’t have been as big a deal; it would’ve just been Ozzie being Ozzie and the bigger question would be why the hell anyone is asking Guillen about his opinions on Castro.
The problem for Guillen is that he made those comments while the manager of the South Florida-based Marlins, home to largest population of Cubans outside of the Caribbean island itself. Not only that, but the Marlins had just opened a new ballpark that was specifically designed to entice those Cuban defectors and Cuban-Americans to come watch the Los Marlins play ball.
As a result, Guillen was suspended for five games while others are calling for his head. Cuban-Americans have been holding protests and are demanding the firing of Guillen.
Fact of the matter is that for the rest of the country, Fidel Castro is not held in as high of contempt as those who have had to suffer under his regime. So it’s impossible for someone like me to have the same venom toward the dictator as that of someone who escaped the island prison.
Proof of this can actually be seen by examining the Marlins two Twitter feeds. As noted by one of my friends who covers online marketing and branding, the team’s Spanish-language account, @LosMarlins, ran several of Guillen’s comments from his press conference, where stated how sorry and embarrassed he was. Those same comments were not posted on @Marlins, the English account, until an hour-and-a-half later, and not all of his apologies were included. Fact is, non-Cuban Americans look at Castro as a joke; not as an evil tyrant.
To be honest, it’s actually Guillen who I feel bad for. Is he a dumbass who says idiotic things? Yes. Should we not expect more stupid things like this? Oh yeah we should. Were his comments taken a bit out of place? Yeah, a bit. (Mind you, he is a native Spanish speaker and while he has a good grasp of English, it’s not his preferred language; it sounded to me more like Guillen was showing some Latino-machismo love for Castro, the bullet-dodging head of state.)
When you hire Guillen you know what you’re getting. When Rex Ryan eventually falls out of favor in New York, the next team that hires him will have to know what they are getting into, or else they are clueless. The Marlins knew what they were getting; he’s been this way his entire career.
So fair enough, Guillen has to miss five games. But to fire the man for non-baseball reasons would be just plain silly. Let me ask you this: Was what Guillen did worse than what Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino did?
As Fox News Latino points out, the married Petrino was having an affair with a coworker that he hired and tried to cover-up that fact up after getting into a motorcycle accident while the woman was riding with him. Also, he’s the coach of college kids, not grown adults. Guillen made a somewhat misconstrued, poorly worded comment about a heartless dictator; but it’s not as if the Venezuelan is a thought leader when it comes to politics.
Again, Guillen has come out and apologized profusely; let him serve his sentence and let’s move on.
But honestly, I just don’t know if that’s going to happen. I almost see this being a case similar to the one faced by former-Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, who was all but castrated by the school’s athletic department before being fired for a rather tame incident. Knight had one massive blowup, but rather than fire him right then and there, they said he could stay on under probation. Well—Knight is Knight and it was only a matter of time until the next incident came rolling down the pike.
Guillen is going to eventually say something else insane. If the team isn’t in first place—and this is one of the toughest divisions in baseball with a team that needs to learn how to gel together—then he’s going to get the ax.
It’s a no-win situation; unless he wins big.
Mind you, this team may have to answer some embarrassing questions from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the financing of the new Marlins Park. If the team even remotely struggles and the fans stop showing up—and they will, because baseball is simply not an attraction in South Florida and the draw of the new park will eventually subside—then owner Jeffrey Loria is going to look for a scapegoat.
Enter Guillen’s mouth.—Anthony Malakian