OT: Ozzie Guillen suspended for 5 games

Submitted by Moleskyn on April 10th, 2012 at 11:03 AM

He just had his press conference where (speaking in Spanish) he apologized to the Latin-American community for his comments. Here's a link to ESPN's summary of things.

"I feel like I betrayed my Latin community," Guillen said, according to ESPN's translation of his comments in Spanish. "I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands and I want to say I'm sorry to all those people who are hurt indirectly or directly."

I say good for him for owning up to it and apologizing; this isn't an attitude he's adopted in the past with other comments he's made. But I feel like the Marlins suspending him is, I don't know, inadequate? I don't think that he should be fired, but it just seems odd. As an organization, you've got to send the message that you don't tolerate this, don't agree, etc., and I suppose they accomplished that by suspending him; but it just seems odd to go "Hey, you just complimented a dictator, you can't do that, we're going to suspend you 5 games." Maybe arbitrary is the word I'm looking for.

Comments

Erik_in_Dayton

April 10th, 2012 at 11:13 AM ^

My problem with this is that it's a slipperly slope.  There are Venezuelans in MLB who have expressed support for Chavez.  Do you suspend them?  I'm not saying I like Castro or Chavez - I just think you get into very muddy water when you start suspending people for their politics (though I don't think Guilen's comment had anything to do with ideology). 

MI Expat NY

April 10th, 2012 at 11:25 AM ^

See below... it's not MLB it's the Marlins.  The NBA wouldn't step in in your scenario.  However, I'd expect the Jazz would step in if the coach said "I think Mormonism is a cooky, made-up religion."  

It's not the content of the statement that matters to the Marlins, it's that the statement has the potential to reduce ticket sales.  

MI Expat NY

April 10th, 2012 at 2:22 PM ^

Honestly, if the Jazz felt a coaches statement on presidential politics would hurt ticket sales enough that a suspension was in order to fix the damage, they would do it.  It doesn't matter if you or I agree with the decision, though that would be part of the calculation.  If the cost-benefits associated with such a suspension favored a suspension for so mild a statement as "I prefer Obama over Romney," you bet your ass they'd do it.  

Coaches are paid to coach, represent the team and ultimately earn money for the team's owners.  If any action by the coach, from shitty strategy, to a drunk driving arrest, to controversial statements that are offensive to a key demographic, causes revenues to decrease, he faces a loss in job security.  This isn't difficult to understand.  Don't confuse the content of the action (or really the action itself) with the end result.  If you cost your employer money you will face consequences.   

jmblue

April 10th, 2012 at 9:54 PM ^

You're comparing apple seeds to oranges here.  The enmity between Cuban Americans and Castro goes way beyond your Utah analogy.  We're talking about a ruler who drove them out of their homeland and into this country.

BlueCE

April 10th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

Completely agree... screw Ozzie.  Just for those comments I would never go to a Marlins game.  I know the Venezuelan community in S. FL (I am Venezuelan) is completely outraged by this.  Freaking idiot, loves the commies but lives of the US system.  Hope he never comes back and I will certainly root against him as long as he remains around.

Magnus

April 10th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

Hitler wasn't universally reviled, either.  There were some people who liked or agreed with him about eugenics.  I'm not saying Castro and Hitler are the same; that's an analogy that was made on ESPN.  But either way, the point is that it doesn't take everyone hating Castro to make Guillen's comments inappropriate.

bacon1431

April 10th, 2012 at 12:10 PM ^

I agree with you 100%. The suspension is actually bogus in my mind. I wonder if he would have been suspended had he said he supported any US President that tolerated slavery and racial segregation?

death by trident

April 10th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

You are a public face of an organization.  As that public face anything you say that can be deemed offensive by your target audience could find you getting suspended.  I'm not saying it's right, it's just dollars and cents.  You are confusing the argument by thinking that it is politics.  It isn't, it was Ozzie saying something offensive to an audience that the Marlins are trying to encourage to come watch baseball.

MI Expat NY

April 10th, 2012 at 11:23 AM ^

It's not MLB, it's the Marlins.  They're suspending him because he said something that was very bad for business.  The content, whether it's political or not, doesn't really matter other than the fact that it hurt the bottom line.  When most people make statements that could seriously hurt their company's bottom line, they get fired.  He should (and probably does) consider himself lucky.

Mr Miggle

April 10th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

Imagine if the Tigers hired a new manager next season and in the first week he starts saying stuff like American cars are pieces of crap and he wouldn't be caught dead driving one. There would be repurcussions from the team, while there might not be if he coached anywhere else. It's the same for Guillen. Saying something guaranteed to inflame Cuban emigrees is a really big deal in Miami. If he were managing anywhere else, he probably would just have gotten a little bad publicity.

wolpherine2000

April 10th, 2012 at 2:30 PM ^

 

Mixing politics and sports is dangerous for individuals and organizations.  But to my mind, organizations have the higher responsibility than individuals, and should follow the Bruins lead after the Tim Thomas/White House affair: His actions/speech are puzzling, but his opinions are his own.  If it becomes a distraction for the team, the two parties should quietly part ways... it's not press conference material.

Players and coaches are going to say ridiculous things - they should be personally accountable to fans, but official sanction for  speech that is contentious, but not plainly inappropriate* is a bad precedent.

*in the manner of Nazis.  Nothing's worse than Nazis.

MGoblu8

April 10th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

That is like saying Hitler wasn't universally reviled in Europe. Yes there are people who support him. But I can assure you that the vast majority of people in Miami do not. Their stadium is in Little Havana. They were trying to market this team more to the Latin American people in south Florida. What he said, while I think I understand where he's coming from, was idiotic. I live in south Florida and lived in Miami until recently. People are really hurt by this. City Council members are calling for him to be fired. It was about the worst thing he could have done considering where he is. Just stupid. 5 games is about right, but I don't think it will be enough for a lot of people.

MGoblu8

April 10th, 2012 at 11:31 AM ^

That's not even the issue. A lot of the Cuban people I know really were oppressed in Cuba. A man I know was a political prisoner who was in jail for 18 months. He only got out after going on a hunger strike of 50+ days or something like that. They thought he was going to die, so they let him go. A lot of the Castro supporters you see on tv are high school kids who are forced to stand there with signs. They control the media (unfortunately like a lot of countries) so you'll never see everything. People have died for opposing him. Hitler and Castro may not be the same, but he's their Hitler. Ozzie can say what he wants. He just has to understand that there are consequences.

Erik_in_Dayton

April 10th, 2012 at 11:34 AM ^

I just get sick (getting away with a lot of politics here) with those Cuban ex-pats who would put themselves in the same category of the people you describe b/c they lost their really good means of exploiting people. 

Also, I just don't think the Hitler comparison holds up.  The fact that it's even used, I think, shows what a slippery slope this all is. 

MGoblu8

April 10th, 2012 at 11:50 AM ^

You're right. A lot of people do exploit the experiences (both real and otherwise). But remember that for those who did lose loved ones it is exactly the same. One of my mom's friends was killed in a plant explosion. The news reported it as "Only one person was killed, though several were injured." For them, it wasn't only one person. A lot of people who left Cuba were poor and were oppressed. They did lose a lot, including their families and it is a big deal. I just think he should know better. Most of my Cuban friends are saying that he made a mistake and he owned up to it. Move on.

Erik_in_Dayton

April 10th, 2012 at 12:26 PM ^

The problem - to the extent that there is a problem - is that it's pretty hard to say you support any world leader and not have that world leader be someone who at some other people consider to have wrongfully caused the deaths of others. 

I don't have a problem with the Marlins suspending him - or even firing him - as such.  I just want it to be recognized as a business decision, not part of some greater, coherent defense of the dispossessed. 

JBE

April 10th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

One: Every single country controls the media.

Two: America holds prisoners (political or otherwise) as well.

Three: Any comparsion of Castro to Hitler is so off base I don't know where to start.

Four: Americans have also died opposing the American government.

Maximinus Thrax

April 10th, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

As a daily (reluctant) WSJ reader, I am regaled weekly with stories about Cuba's oppression of dissidents, Cuba's communist foolishness, and Cuba's meddling in the affairs of other Latin American nations.

 

However, I seldom read in the WSJ about the people sentenced to die in courts across America, the disparity in criminal sentences handed out to minorities, or the tragedy of those without health insurance struggling to afford a basic human right in our own country (except to be told that all of these things really aren't problems, and even if they were, the supermen who can really fix them are being hamstrung by paying taxes on their dividends).

 

The point is, the domestic media likes to point fingers and point out the bad things that people are doing far away as if to say "Look how bad they are.  We are nothing like that.", in the hopes that we will say "Gee, I'm glad I don't live there.  People can't go door to door preaching religion there like they can here.  Aren't we lucky.  I don't even care that I have to pay $400 out of a $2,000 paycheck for a healthcare policy that is so riddled with insurer favoring loopholes as to be almost useless except in the case of an extreme emergency.  GO Murrica!!"

His Dudeness

April 10th, 2012 at 4:02 PM ^

Very well put. I would also add that some socialist and communist nations have done quite well once they get past America trying to knock the legs out from the regime in the early stages. Hell Reagan (his policies) killed far more Central Americans than Catsro ever did  Cubans.

I like living here and am not complaining, but the truth is the truth.

/Murrica.

PatrickBateman

April 10th, 2012 at 12:26 PM ^

Forget about the ~120,000 "undesirable" Cubans who were expelled to southern Florida in 1980?  Or the tens of thousands who have fled on boats and rafts during his rule?  I'm willing to bet that a significant portion of those who protest against Castro are the more recent variety who certainly don't meet the "evil capitalist" criteria, chances are those people passed away years ago and it is their relatives who are keeping up the fight.   

Maximinus Thrax

April 10th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

Please remember that our most recent presidents, through wars or by drones, have been responsible for thousands of innocent deaths and displacements, collateral damage, destabilization, etc.  Should the Marlins have suspended Ozzie for saying he admires Bush II/Obama?  Doubtless there are thousands of people who would be offended by that too.