Recently hired Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended by the team for five games following his comments on Fidel Castro. In an interview for TIME magazine that took place last week, Guillen expressed admiration for former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. In the interview, Guillen said he “respect[ed]” Castro for remaining in power so long.
Guillen left the team in Philadelphia last night to fly back to Miami for Tuesday’s press conference. At the news conference, which was aired live on ESPN, Guillen apologized for his remarks and called them “the greatest mistake of [his] life.”
While Guillen’s comments are could certainly be deemed deplorable by many, the Marlins skipper is facing increased scrutiny due to the large number of Cuban-Americans that live in Miami. After breaking the bank to sign several high priced free agents in the offseason and constructing a new $515 million stadium, the Marlins were hoping to spark a baseball revival in south Florida. Hired in the offseason by the Marlins to be the voice of Miami’s Latin community, Guillen’s commentscould represent the worst possible scenario for the Marlins. Even with the suspension, it remains unclear whether Guillen will be able to keep his job in the midst of the media firestorm he has created.
This isn’t the first time Major League Baseball has had to deal with remarks that alienated some of its fans. In the late 1990s, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott made comments in which she expressed a fond recollection of Adolf Hitler. Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Schott from her ownership duties for the entire 1997 season as a result of her comments.
While the Marlins have been quick in their discipline of Guillen, it remains to be seen how his comments will affect the future of the franchise. Guillen will rejoin the team next Tuesday when the Marlins are in Miami facing the Cubs.