Well, that didn't take long.
By now you know that Ozzie Guillen, new Miami Marlins manager and foot-in-mouth connoisseur, made some remarks in an interview about "loving" Fidel Castro and "respecting" him for staying in power for so long. Such comments are unsettling in most parts of this country, but in Miami, any use of endearing terms regarding Castro may cause people to burn that person in effigy.
And so, in an attempt at repentance, Guillen flew back down to Miami from Philadelphia, where the Marlins are in the middle of a three-game series against the Phillies, to apologize to everyone for his comments, specifically the Latin community. As a punishment, the Marlins suspended him for five games, without pay, effective immediately. He began his address to the media in Spanish, attempting to connect first with the people most offended by his remarks. "I am here on my knees," Ozzie Guillen said, in Spanish, teary-eyed. "I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands..."
Understandably, some members of the community do not see this as enough. Some have called for his firing, including Carlos Giminez, the Mayor of Miami-Dade County. But I think his punishment will turn out to be a good thing for just about everybody in the long run.
Perhaps now Guillen will learn that sometimes he needs to keep his mouth shut. That there are lines he just can't cross. The media loves talking to him and getting quotes from Guillen, because he stirs and creates controversy, leading to more readers. But Guillen should learn that not everybody in the media is his friend. He shouldn't allow himself to be baited into saying things like this. He needs to regain control of his image. If he wants to trash talk an opponent like he is a WWE wrestler, that's fine. But he needs to confine his remarks to matters on the baseball field.
Ozzie can't help but cause trouble with his mouth sometimes. It's in his blood. You can't change a person's core personality. But if he is truly sorry for these comments, they won't happen again. He will learn what his boundaries are now that he has been held accountable.
The Marlins had to know that something like this would happen at some point. Perhaps not this soon, and definitely not this alienating to its customer base. But maybe they will tread lightly with such explosive personalities in the future and maybe, just maybe, be able to keep Guillen in line from now on. And if Guillen is successful and the Marlins want to extend his contract, management might want to add a personal conduct provision protecting themselves in case something like this happens in the future and they decide a change in clubhouse leadership is in order.
As for the Latin community--particularly the Cuban community--some will forgive him, and some won't, which is completely understandable. For the uninitiated, and without ranking which atrocities were worse, Castro is to the Cuban community what Hitler was to the Jewish community, Stalin was to Russians, and Hussein was to the Kurds. The anger towards Guillen many have been experiencing is perfectly reasonable. And it will be up to each individual whether they want to forgive or not. But nobody will forget. Guillen will always be the guy who said what he did. But you can bet that he will try hard to make it up to people in Miami for at least as long as he is the Marlins' manager.
Maybe going too far is what Guillen needed to be able to stay in line in the future.