In a recent interview with Time magazine, Guillen said, “I love Fidel Castro.” During Tuesday’s news conference, Guillen called his comments “the biggest mistake I made in my life so far.” In reality, they were just another notch into an abyss he began plunging down long ago while others looked the other way.
Before Guillen apologized to Cuban Americans on Tuesday, and apologized to women four years ago and to the gay community six years ago, baseball needed to apologize for letting Ozzie be Ozzie. And afterward, it needed to send him away, perhaps into an alcohol treatment program.
Baseball managers are allowed to have potty mouths — otherwise, Earl Weaver and Tommy Lasorda never would have never gotten jobs — but Guillen always took filthy to the nth power.
In 2006, Guillen used a gay slur to describe a Chicago columnist. In 2008, in an attempt to motivate themselves out of a slump, the White Sox decorated their clubhouse with two inflatable dolls, inserted a bat into one to prop it up and then hung a sign over the display that read, “You’ve Got to Push.” When some questioned whether such behavior was appropriate, Guillen never understood why anyone would be offended.
“I’m not going to say I’m sorry,” Guillen said of the inflatable dolls. “I don’t know what to say. I can’t come up with the words, because as soon as I say that, that means I’m guilty of something. I’m not. I’m not guilty. . . . We just had a plastic thing sitting on a table and, wow, we’re bad people.”
Lost in the Fidel furor were these Guillen comments to a CBS reporter last Thursday, regarding what he does in his managerial down time: “I go to the hotel bar, get drunk, sleep,” he said. “I don’t do anything else. I get drunk because I’m happy we win or I get drunk because I’m very sad and disturbed because we lose. Same routine, it never changes.”
Who knows whether Ozzie embellishment is at play or whether or not Guillen actually has a problem with alcohol, which routinely gets a pass in sports circles, where it’s assumed everyone can have a shot and a beer and stop there. But at its face, the statement should tell the Marlins they might have a bigger problem on their hands than merely a Venezuelan-born manager who just massively offended most of their Latin fan base.
Major League Baseball does so much homework with its Juggs guns and scouting departments. Teams scour the nooks and crannies of the Americas to find the best young prospects. So how can teams be so tone-deaf when giving managerial jobs to loose cannons, who at best are high-stakes gambles and at worst clownish embarrassments?