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Marlins Ballpark - Sans Guillen
April 24, 2012 - Al Stephenson
When I took in a game at my 55th major league baseball stadium, I did so without getting to view one of the more colorful managers in the game. Ozzie Guillen was hired by the Marlins to lead them into their new state of the art facility and most people thought it was a perfect fit.
Guillen is from Venezuela, speaks both Spanish and English and in a city where the first language is at least as common as the second, everyone thought he would be a very popular manager.
Some are not so sure now.
One thing that has always been known as far as Ozzie Guillen is concerned is the fact that he will speak his mind. He doesn't always think first, never backs away from a question and is considered great copy by members of the press. He may not be so apt to speak any longer as he stuck his proverbial foot in his mouth. His comments caused the Marlins to suspend him for five games and considering the controversy has virtually nothing to do with baseball, you will understand if Guillen is a little more reticent in the future.
So what did he say that had everyone up in arms in Miami? Simply put he said he loved Fidel Castro. It's not what he meant, at least not in my opinion, but the words were spoken and the Cuban-American community in this city was aghast. If you listen to the whole of his comments, it is obvious that he didn't mean what he said. In my humble opinion he was saying how remarkable it was that the man stayed in power so long considering what kind of tyrant he is. Ozzie used a bad choice for his thoughts on the man. He could have said impressed, which would have taken some of he sting out of his comments or he could have used the word amazed - that one would have not got him in trouble at all. Alas, the word he used was love and Miamians were quick to use antonyms of that word to let their feelings be known.
When we went to Marlins Park, it was the first home game of his suspension. We did not personally see any protestors outside the stadium, but they were present. We saw them on the news the next day. They were calling for the firing of Guillen as his comments were the biggest insult they had ever heard.
Perhaps the most interesting defense of Guillen's comments came from the man himself. Guillen reportedly said that he was thinking in Spanish, but speaking in English and his thoughts did not translate well. You think? My first impression was to laugh that off as ridiculous, but the more I thought about it, the more it did seem plausible.
My wife and I spent three days in Miami Beach. We felt like foreigners as most of the locals seem to be speaking Spanish and most of the guests at the hotel were speaking a variety of European tongues. We could not have eavesdropped on a conversation if we had wanted to. I suppose if a person is bilingual thoughts and words could become entangled. All I can say is that Ozzie Guillen created a tangled web indeed.
The view from my seat suggests that in this instance Ozzie Guillen did not mean what he obviously said. Having said that, I would suggest that Guillen hopes the Marlins win a lot of games. Winning covers up a multitude of sins and Guillen has put a big one on his resume.
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