Ozzie Guillen

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.