Ozzie Guillen, Fidel Castro and Why No One Cares

[On Hugo Chavez]
What I say about Chavez, I don’t say I like his ideas, I don’t say I like the way he is. I just said I like the man because he works hard and he says what he thinks. Some people don’t like it, but I don’t say I like the man, he’s a governor. I don’t say I like the man, he do great things in the world, in my country. I said I like the man because he loves his country.
— 2005, press conference before second game of ALCS

[Asked to name the toughest person he knows]
Fidel Castro. He’s a bullshit dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power. Still has a country behind him. Everywhere he goes they roll out the red carpet.
I don’t admire his philosophy. I admire him.
— 2008, interview, Men’s Journal

[While talking to a reporter in his office]
I love Fidel Castro… I respect Fidel Castro.
You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here.
— 2012, interview, Time Magazine

One month ago today, Ozzie Guillen returned from a five-game suspension for saying “I love Fidel Castro.” And no one cares. The Marlins have gone 16-11 since he got back; they were just 2-3 under interim manager Joey Cora. The entire controversy, which seemed to suck all the oxygen out of sports television and radio for the week between the publication of his comments and the end of his suspension, appears to have dissipated.

(Well, just about. A little over a week ago, when the Marlins were in Houston for a series, Ozzie cursed out a radio host who asked him about the backlash , and the Astros kicked out a group of fans who chose to lampoon Ozzie by dressing up as Castro by wearing matching beards and cigars.)

The controversy even seems to have dissipated in Miami. “That’s a fact,” says Dr. Andy Gomez, the assistant provost at the University of Miami who is also a senior fellow in the university’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. “The Cuban-American community, we’re going to judge him based on how many games he wins, not on how he feels about Fidel Castro.”

That’s a good thing for Guillen, who was badly misunderstood. It’s also a good thing for the Miami community, which has come a long way since the 1970s and 1980s, when paramilitary elements had a habit of bombing people they perceived as pro-Castro. Max Lesnik, a pro-Castro journalist, had his Miami offices bombed 11 times, as Wright Thompson wrote for ESPN.

Guillen was clearly misunderstood. Considering that he refers to him as a “motherfucker” and a “bullshit dictator,” it’s fair to conclude that he doesn’t actually “love” Castro. Rather, I think that what happened in this case is an instance of the severe misuse of the common ironic usage of the phrase “I love,” which actually implies, “I love the fact that” rather than “I love the thing itself,” and is commonly is used to mean, “I find it amazing,” or, “I find it perversely amusing.”

In other words, when Guillen said “I love Fidel Castro,” I think he meant that he finds it remarkable that a guy who was Public Enemy No. 1 for a while — whom the United States has tried to assassinate countless times — is still alive. In fact, a source on the Marlins gave a similar interpretation to the Miami Herald after the Time interview came to light.

It isn’t surprising that Guillen was misunderstood. Ozzie Guillen is famous for having a profane mouth that gets him in a great deal of trouble. It has already gotten him in a modest amount of trouble regarding Hugo Chavez, as you can tell from the 2005 quote I gave at the beginning of this article: “I don’t say I like the way he is. I just said I like the man.” In a video that appeared on Youtube taken from the celebration after the 2005 World Series championship, Guillen was seen to shout, “Chavez!”

Indeed, Guillen, a Venezuelan, has talked about Chavez for years. In 2007, the Palm Beach Post reported that Guillen, then-manager of the White Sox, often talked to pitcher Jose Contreras about politics, “comparing Chavez and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and their effects on their respective countries.” The odds are pretty good that Guillen feels about the same way about Chavez as he does about Castro, because Contreras famously has no love lost for Castro, after having defected from Cuba to the U.S. But it would probably be best if Guillen simply stopped talking about politics. Which, to his credit, he has. At least for the past month.

Guillen, obviously, has gotten in trouble for talking about things other than politics too. Back in 2006, he was fined and ordered to undergo sensitivity training for calling columnist Jay Mariotti a “fag.” And he went right on managing the team for the next five seasons. Chicago got used to Guillen’s occasional outbursts; as long as he kept winning, nothing he said could threaten his job. It wasn’t a question of if he would get in trouble for something he said in Miami, it was a question of when.

Ozzie’s charm is tremendous. And in this case, his timing was impeccable. If he had made the same offhanded comment 20 years ago, the Marlins would have been picketed by thousands of fans; if he had made it 30 years ago, he might have had to fear for his life. But in the past several decades, the Cuban-American community has changed.

Gomez, the University of Miami scholar, opined that the change in the Cuban-American community may have had two primary catalysts. First, the Elian Gonzalez case — which demonstrated to many within the community that knee-jerk, anti-Castro sentiment didn’t necessarily lead to a good outcome. And second, the illness that caused Fidel Castro to turn power over to his younger brother Raul: despite great hope that Cuban freedom was imminent, only continuity came.

Miami Cubans didn’t exactly stop hating Castro. They just started caring about other things more. Like a winning baseball team. “I’m a season ticket holder and I wasn’t going to turn back my tickets,” Gomez said. “Now, if this son of a bitch doesn’t win ballgames, let’s see what we do at the end of the season.”




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Alex is a writer for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.


61 Responses to “Ozzie Guillen, Fidel Castro and Why No One Cares”

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  1. GotHeem says:

    I come to Fangraphs to read analysis on the game of baseball. This article feels like it would be on Yahoo’s baseball page.

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    • Eric says:

      So don’t read it. They post about a dozen articles a day.

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    • Simon says:

      I don’t believe that you saw the title of the article and expected deep baseball analysis inside. I also think that you were aware that not every article on Fangraphs consists of detailed sabermetric analysis.

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    • chuckb says:

      This, coming from a guy whose moniker is named after a term coined by the legendary Kevin Millar!

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    • kozilla says:

      I had not seen those quotes from Ozzie. They really re-frame the whole controversy and I think that alone make the article a worthwhile read.

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  2. Rick B says:

    I liked it, good work.

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  3. novaether says:

    I’m confused. What position does Fidel Castro play?

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    • Pitcher. But he’s retired. He’s even older than Jamie Moyer.

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      • jorgath says:

        This is actually true, I think. Right?

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      • He clearly is a baseball fan. His actual skill at the game is open to slightly more debate. Here’s a newsreel from 1959 that shows him pitching a bit: http://archive.org/details/1959-07-27_Havana_Rally

        Snopes debunks the rumor that he was actually a good enough pitcher to merit a major league tryout, quoting a book called “The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball” by Yale professor Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria.

        Let it be known here that Fidel Castro was never scouted by any major-league team, and is not known to have enjoyed the kind of success in baseball that could have brought a scout’s attention to him. In a country where sports coverage was broad and thorough, in a city such as Havana with a half-dozen major newspapers (plus dozens of minor ones) and with organized leagues at all levels, there is no record that Fidel Castro ever played, much less starred, on any team. No one has produced even one team picture with Fidel Castro in it. I have found the box score of an intramural game played between the Law and the Business Schools at the University of Havana where a certain F. Castro pitched and lost, 5-4, in late November 1946; this is likely to be the only published box score in which the future dictator appears (El Mundo, November 28, 1946). Cubans know that Fidel Castro was no ballplayer, though he dressed himself in the uniform of a spurious, tongue-in-cheek team called Barbudos (Bearded Ones) after he came to power in 1959 and played a few exhibition games. There was no doubt then about his making any team in Cuba. Given a whole country to toy with, Fidel Castro realized the dream of most middle-aged Cuban men by pulling on a uniform and “playing” a few innings.

        http://www.snopes.com/sports/baseball/castro.asp
        http://books.google.com/books?id=vSXRd4C3ihEC&pg=PA6

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      • Oliver says:

        I seem to recall a story about him giving Jim Abbott an autographed ball which read, “from one lefty to another”. Can’t remember if that was after the Orioles visited Cuba or not, nor which team Abbott pitched for at the time.

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      • That story actually comes from an SI article, but it didn’t quite happen that way.

        Rarely has there been so much clamor over the debut of a rookie who wasn’t on his organization’s major league roster. Before lefthander Jim Abbott, a California Angel prospect, took the mound on Friday in Yuma, Ariz., for a B game against the San Diego Padres and threw his first pitch as a pro, he had already turned down three book offers and a movie deal. He did agree, however, to sign a baseball for Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro, who was scouted by the Washington Senators in the late 1940s. Abbott resisted the temptation to inscribe the ball, FROM ONE LEFTY TO ANOTHER.

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1126614/index.htm

        It’s unclear from the story whether that particular joke was Abbott’s idea, or the writer’s. I’d guess it was the writer’s.

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      • STEALTH says:

        No, I think the unbelievable part was that he’s older than Jamie Moyer… are we totally sure on that part of it?

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  4. Adam says:

    This is absolutely true. Fidel is about four years older than Jamie Moyer. They did room together in the minors, though.

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  5. Table says:

    Good analysis, I wonder how many people actually read that quote in full. They probably just heard that Guillen said he loved him. The context changes everything.

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  6. MikeS says:

    The whole thing, from start to now, is a product of the way news is reported these days. Sound bites, about a thousand outlets looking to scoop the competition by 5 seconds and needing sensationalism to get attention and the short news cycle.

    1) Snip a quote to get it to fit in the 3 seconds allotted
    2) Turn it into a controversy by asking uninformed people with a political agenda to comment on it.
    3) Pile on
    4) Move on to the next manufactured controversy

    The reason people don’t care is not because it is 2012 or because they took the time to read the whole quote. The reason is that it happened a month ago. That puts it in the same category as the civil war for a lot of Americans these days – it’s now history, not news.

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    • I very much disagree. The Cuban community in South Florida has changed a great deal over the past 53 years. This is not simply an artifact of the news cycle. Miami Cubans never would have let Ozzie get away with saying that 20 years ago.

      As Wright Thompson wrote in the story I linked above:

      The night before the Marlins’ first home game since Guillen’s comments, I met a Cuban-American friend in the back of a trendy restaurant. He slipped me a list of names from the past: moderate and liberal Cuban exiles who’d been attacked and threatened over the years for even appearing to support Castro.

      “This is a very, very faint echo of what used to be,” my friend said. “Back in the ’70s, they would have blown up Marlins Park. If you understand that the Watergate burglars were trying to overthrow Fidel, and that people used to blow each other up in the ’70s and ’80s, then the Guillen thing gets more interesting, both because of what he said — and because of what didn’t happen.”

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      • Tim says:

        Oh please. Anyone with a brain (i.e. the majority of Cuban-Americans) understand exactly what Guillen was saying and that he wasn’t promoting Castro at all.

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      • Richie says:

        MikeS isn’t saying that the Cuban community hasn’t changed. He’s just saying the story and its treatment fit exactly the profile of a thousand other teapot tempests. No reason at all his and your observations can’t coexist.

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      • In that case, I do agree with you and MikeS. I think the hyperbaric echo chamber of the media has the effect of hyping up soundbites that are easily retweetable. And the Time magazine writer didn’t do Ozzie any favors by separating Ozzie’s statement “I love Fidel Castro” from everything else he said.

        Ozzie had to know that Fidel Castro is a sensitive topic when you live and work in a community of people whose families have been devastated by him. The fact that the controversy went away immediately is a testament to the changing nature of the Miami Cuban community. It may also be a testament to the fact that the hype machine has a short attention span.

        The latter effect is undoubtedly there. But the former is, to me, much more interesting.

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    • Kirkwood says:

      Aaaaaaaand bingo.

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  7. Rich Mahogany says:

    Maybe Guillen is fascinated with Chavez and Castro because he sees himself in a similar light, staying “in power” despite frequently being attacked for his views and personality.

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  8. Paul says:

    I agree that he was misquoted, and I’m not remotely surprised by it.

    But I think the larger context of his support for Castro and Chavez is something that we miss here in the U.S. We like to talk about our partisan politics in this country, but in South America and Cuba, it simply is not possible to support those guys based on things like machismo, but disagree with their philosophy or methods. I have talked with quite a few people on both sides in S. America and I have never met a single person who felt some kind of admiration for a personal characteristic of an opposition leader. This is particularly true of the people Guillen himself refers to as dictators. People who oppose these guys (or women, see Argentina 2012) do so at a fundamental level. Because they have imprisoned family members, nationalized their businesses, etc.

    So my point is that I think Guillen knows that Americans will fall for his lame excuse of saying he supports some macho characteristics of these guys, but is either unaware or oblivious to their deeds. None of his countrymen feel that way. And the truth is, if you are able to feel any personal admiration for those men while knowing who they are and what they’ve done, you must support their policies and methods. In S. America it is simply so much more extreme than here that compartmentalism is not possible. And Guillen knows that.

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    • chel says:

      I’m a venezuelan and I believe this is absolutly true, Ozzie has said in the past that he supports Chavez and by transitivity that means he supports Castro. I say to Ozzie f**k a million times! It must be really easy supporting Chavez when you are living in USA and your work pays you in $, did you know I can’t pay mlb.tv because our credit cards are blocked to buy anything outside Venezuela? F**k you Chavez!

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  9. Marver says:

    Respect (v): to hold in esteem or honor

    If Ozzie “respects” him just because he has existed for more time than expected, it means that he values that quality more than he devalues all the negative things — which are extensive and well-documented — that Castro has done over the same time span.

    Anyone with that sort of valuation system is a ****ing idiot and deserves a whole lot of criticism, however misconstrued other parts of his statement may be.

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    • Paul says:

      You said it much better than I could.

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    • Marver, of all the comments you have made on my posts, I think that the statement that Ozzie Guillen is an idiot is one that I disagree with least.

      That said, it’s worth remembering: he’s uneducated. He was signed as a free agent when he was 16, and he’s been playing baseball ever since. He had a very respectable playing career and has been a very effective manager.

      But he’s also a very, very demonstrable idiot. And I bet even he would agree with you about that.

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  10. Bip says:

    1. I can’t believe that anyone cared about this at any point ever. 5-game suspension? Are you kidding me? Even if he pledged his undying support for Castro, that wouldn’t justify it. What is the MLB doing making punitive decisions based on politics?

    2. The irony is that I probably like Fidel more than Juan Castro, because one of the two has not hurt the Dodgers.

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    • Ozzie was not suspended by Major League Baseball. He was suspended by his employer, the Miami Marlins.

      After that, Bud Selig issued a statement that said that he supported the suspension:

      Major League Baseball supports today’s decision by the Marlins to suspend Ozzie Guillen. As I have often said, baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities. All of our 30 clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve.

      “Mr. Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game.

      http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120410&content_id=28317734

      Also… you ARE aware that Fidel Castro is a brutal dictator who ruled his nation for a half-century, right?

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      • Keystone Heavy says:

        Should it ever be okay to punish employees based on their political beliefs/affiliations? If Carson Cistulli walked into the Fangraphs office with an “I <3 Mao Zedong" shirt on, would you guys suspend him because his views are unpopular with Chinese readers? Seriously, who cares if people were "offended" by his beliefs?

        Maybe its just me, but I think Communist, Neo Nazis, Wiccan Theocrats, or any other political group should be able to publically express their political views without being punished by their employer.

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      • Fangraphs doesn’t exactly have an “office” in the way you describe. The writers are pretty much all over the country and nearly all of us have day jobs.

        But Ozzie wasn’t punished for his thoughts as a private citizen. He was punished for something he did in his role as a public spokesman for his employer. He was interviewed as the new manager of the Miami Marlins, and the Marlins have the right to hold him accountable for what he says as their representative.

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      • kozilla says:

        They probably wouldn’t care about a shirt but if Carson started posting comments extolling the need for re-segregation I am confident some swift action would be taken.

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  11. deadhead says:

    Isn’t the fact that Ozzie was raised and educated in Venezuela a mitigating factor here? I thought those two countries were pretty tight and I imagined that he was probably force fed some serious propaganda growing up. But I suppose taking the “American” side of issues is just inherent in good people.

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    • Venezuela hasn’t ALWAYS been a dictatorship. Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1999 through a democratic election.

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      • RL says:

        He has actually been re-elected several times in free and democratic elections monitored and approved by international agencies such as Jimmy Carter’s organization. The whole “dictatorship” label is a longtime US propaganda tactic to attempt to vilify any leader that threatens US dominance and/or the profits of US corporations.

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      • Scott Nova says:

        Alex: You believe it is self-evident that Hugh Chavez is a bad man, someone no reasonable person would support or defend. It is disappointing that a person writing on a website whose contributors are devoted to reasoned analysis of their subject matter, someone who, when it comes to baseball, takes a jaundiced view of arguments based on received wisdom and unquestioned assumptions, suspends his critical faculties when veering into the political realm.

        As RL notes, Hugh Chavez is the democratically elected (and re-elected) leader of Venezuela. Personally, I have problems with his leadership style. However, he has done a great deal to address poverty, reduce grievous inequalities, and help ordinary people in his country, something that is a rarity in modern Latin American history. His transgressions in terms of democratic norms and press freedoms should not be ignored, but two things must be noted: 1) Venezuela remains a political democracy in which there is substantial respect for free speech and significant electoral competition, 2) Violations of democratic norms in many other countries in the region, past and present, have been vastly more severe than anything Chavez’s government has produced.

        Chavez has been relentlessly pilloried by political leaders in the US and by our subservient media. This is not because he is undemocratic; the US vigorously supports a veritable rogues gallery of brutal dictators — note, among numerous examples, our current love affair with the murderous dictatorship in Bahrain. It is because he openly and aggressively challenges US political and economic prescriptions, has sought to organize other countries to do the same, and is a harsh and vocal critic of US actions in the region.

        The fact that the US government loathes Chavez, and that media echoes the attacks, doesn’t make Chavez a dictator. It also doesn’t make him a democrat. Conclusions about those questions can only be reached through a serious analysis of the facts. If you are going to write on this subject matter, you should inform your writing with the same rigorous analysis you apply to the topics you normally address.

        It is a sad comment on the state of our intellectual culture that a buffoon like Guillen is one of the only people in American public life who you will ever hear contradicting the conventional portrait of one of our official enemies.

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      • My thoughts on Chavez are mostly immaterial to the piece, and I’m not well-informed enough to offer a lengthy disquisition. However, whatever you think Ozzie Guillen has said about Hugo Chavez, he has almost certainly contradicted it.

        After all, Bill O’Reilly literally called Ozzie Guillen a “patriot” when Guillen criticized Sean Penn for being overly sympathetic to Hugo Chavez.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq1VTikMkgg

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      • Trollin Powell says:

        Alex,

        Guillen didn’t criticize Penn for being buddies with Chavez. Guillen more or less said that Penn has no idea what he’s talking about. He was shown what the government wanted him to see and that was it.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQDePpREDDg

        Don’t take anything Bill O’Reilly says seriously.

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      • I don’t take O’Reilly seriously. But the point is, Guillen has not been exactly consistent with his views on Hugo Chavez.

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  12. sox2727 says:

    “it would probably be best if Guillen simply stopped talking about politics”

    It would probably be best if Guillen simply stopped talking…

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  13. Keystone Heavy says:

    The lesson here: don’t have unpopular political opinions, or else your employer will punish you as a public relations move.

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    • Johnny Come Lately says:

      The lesson is don’t piss off your customer base. If he was managing the Mariners, no one would have batted an eye.

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  14. MattM says:

    Just glad to see an article that doesn’t mention Zone Percentage, or Win Expectancy.

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  15. Tim says:

    Given that this is the first I’ve heard some of these contextual details, I’m not sure it’s Ozzie’s mouth getting him in trouble so much as the mainstream media’s unwillingness to report that he called Castro “bullshit dictator” and “motherfucker.”

    Which also makes it partly the FCC’s fault, and partly the Supreme Court’s fault, I guess.

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    • Wobatus says:

      I think the “bullshit dictator” and “motherfucker” we’re tossed out to soften what he knows is an unpopular opinion.

      And sure, Chavez was elected. So was Hitler. And Jimmy Carter isn’t the sole judge of fair elections. That said, I have no problem with Ozzie Guillen expressing his views. I don’t have much of an opinion of him as a manager. I could take him or leave him. He’s a bullshit manager. I guess I admire the fact he’s lasted this long.

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      • Scott Nova says:

        Wobatus, You make two arguments:

        #1: “Sure Chavez was elected. So was Hitler.”

        #2: Any idea that contains some degree of nuance, and therefore requires more than a sentence or two to explain, should be discarded, presumably in favor of pithy and insightful formulations like point #1 above.

        All very compelling.

        I would offer a more substantive response, but I have go and epater les bourgeoisie.

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      • Actually, according to Chris Jaffe’s book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers,” Ozzie has been a pretty effective manager throughout his career, not just the ’05 World Series. Jaffe considers him a modern version of Billy Martin, who was also a very effective manager, albeit similarly combustible.

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    • Wobatus says:

      Scott Nova, articles would be too long if any mention of Chavez would require a lot of in-depth analysis or equivocations about his not-a-dictator, not-a-democrat, helps the poor like Huey long demagogue pals around with Iranian mullahs just to epater les bourgeoisie U.S., yada yada.

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      • Shauntell says:

        Well, you have to educate people to some degree, put some doubt in their mind so they don’t believe everything the corporate media says is true.

        Too many people in the Western World believe in the concept of good vs. evil that the media tries to sell us.

        The USA just shouldn’t be trying to teach lessons to everyone. Especially when it has done everything in its power so that Chavez and Castro would fail.

        Unfortunately I doubt Guillen is the right person to address the situation as nobody takes him seriously anyhow.

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      • When you’re talking about corporate media, Shauntell, to whom exactly are you referring? Is Fangraphs “corporate media”? Is it NPR? Is it The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or Miami Herald? Is it CNN, or ESPN, or Newsweek? They all have different owners. They don’t coordinate their message or their coverage. And they certainly don’t speak for the “USA” or try to “teach lessons” on the United States’ behalf.

        Remember, “media” is a plural noun. The singular is “medium.”

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      • Trollin Powell says:

        Alex,

        Look up Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model and see why media outlets don’t have to officially coordinate content to match government policy.

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      • When access is controlled by a single source with a legal monopoly on power — i.e. government — then it sets the relational context for all reporting, whether the perpective of the reporter is antagonistic, supportive, or neutral.

        But intent is obviously separate from effect. Shauntell said that the media “tries to sell us” a message and that the United States, through the media, is “trying to teach lessons” to the rest of the world. The word “try” imputes a collective intent to all media sources which simply isn’t there, even if, as an emergent epiphenomenon, the collective effect is similar.

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  16. chuckb says:

    The real problem, then as now, wasn’t (or shouldn’t have been) Guillen’s professed love for Castro. It should have been his declaration that he gets drunk after every game. Still, his admitted alcoholism has been ignored not only by MLB and the Marlins, but also by the media b/c they’re infatuated with this ridiculous Castro BS.

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  17. Hank G. says:

    The Astro’s management obviously has no sense of humor. I think it would have been awesome to see a bunch of fans dressed as Castro on ESPN.

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  18. Robert Dudek says:

    What seems to be lost in all this is that the Marlins, with the blessing of MLB, suspended an employee for making an innocuous political statement, solely because they and some of their fans disagreed with it.

    Land of the free indeed.

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  19. Robert Dudek says:

    #1: “Sure Chavez was elected. So was Hitler.”

    False. As I recall, Hitler was appointed Chancellor.

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  20. Robert Dudek says:

    Also… you ARE aware that Fidel Castro is a brutal dictator who ruled his nation for a half-century, right?

    Are you aware that he was a lot less brutal than a lot of other dictators, many of whom were at one point or another allied with the US?

    As baseball analysts, we know that everything has to be judged in context.

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    • The United States briefly supported Castro, too.

      Trying to measure the relative badness of evils is rarely particularly conclusive or helpful. Nor does the existence of a military alliance with the United States generally offer any useful information about the morality of policy within a given state. I prefer to think of oppression as generally a bad thing and worth opposing.

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    • Candlestick Parker says:

      A lot less brutal than WHICH “other dictators”?

      Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have fled Castro’s hellish island over the past 5 decades — many of them braving shark-infested waters on primitive rafts in their desperation.

      Name one of those US-backed dictators who sparked a similar mass exodus from their country. Not Pinochet in Chile, not Somoza in Nicaragua, not the Shah of Iran. All of them were Mr Rogers compared to the psychopaths running Cuba.

      And by the way, I don’t even think Ozzie should have been punished for his comments. But I have nothing but contempt for people who try the “hey, Castro’s not really that bad” defense.

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      • Trollin Powell says:

        The amount of refugees a country has produced is not a great way to measure the brutality of a regime. Especially with a US-backed regime, the people who are going to want to leave are those who have means to do so. For most of Castro’s rule, the majority of exiles were wealthy Cubans. People in Chile and Nicaragua didn’t have the means to escape their brutal repressions since Pinochet and Somoza targeted the poor and were allied to the US. As far as comparing dictators, I don’t know. I would consider the genocidal US backed occupation of East Timor worse than anything Castro has done.

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