outhwest Airlines has a “Wanna Get Away” slogan they advertise throughout their commercials. For a certain ballclub in the downtown Miami area, that may not have seemed like a bad idea this weekend.
One week into the new season, the Miami Marlins have found themselves as the topic of conversation for all the wrong reasons. Just days after the regular-season opening of their brand new ballpark and new team name, the team has fallen under a PR nightmare following comments made by head coach Ozzie Guillen regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
The comments, originally published by Time Magazine, stated “I love Fidel Castro. A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherf****r is still alive.”
Ever since the comments have been made public, Guillen – and to some extent, the Marlins – have come under a great deal of scrutiny.
The fanbase is outraged, local organizations and supporters of the team have called for Guillen’s firing, and national media looks on, trying to understand what the big deal is.
It’s never a good situation when a public figurehead, one whose day-to-day activities don’t involve political involvement, decides to dabble in it a little bit and give his or her opinion. In any normal situation, the cons outweigh the pros.
Among a fan base in a city made up of Cuban-Americans, any mention of Castro not damning him would be catastrophic.
I can appreciate and understand the reason our community would be this upset. Though I have not experienced the pain and strife that many go through to make their way out of Cuba firsthand, I’ve grown up hearing enough about it, be it from direct family to close friends to the older, cigar smoking, laughing gentlemen at the barbershop to understand the pain they have been through.
This is a man who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Cuba, whether through the sights of a firing line or those lost attempting to cross the 90 miles of ocean between there and Florida. He has caused suffering amongst generations of Cubans and Cuban-Americans, and their right to be outraged is just and well deserved.
That being said, I don’t think the calls to fire Guillen and exile him from here are warranted. Reading and re-reading the original quote, it seems to me his message was lost in translation. I first took it as being in awe that a man who has caused that much suffering could, not only still be alive, but also be in the position that he’s in.
Whatever the reasoning for his saying it, Guillen has gone through leaps and bounds to explain his thoughts, and more importantly, apologize to the city.
This is an apology coming from a man who does not make a habit of asking for forgiveness. A man who once called himself the “Charlie Sheen of baseball without the drugs and a prostitute” came back to Miami in the middle of a road trip to apologize “on his knees.”
The damage has been done. Guillen was suspended for five games by the Marlins (the first game being served during their 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday) but more importantly, he has to work to regain the trust of a community he has wounded.
Some may never forgive him. That would be a shame. We’ve all had that moment where we wish we could take back and erase something we said. Guillen just has more microphones around him.