In the Miami area, the Cuban American community is the most coveted voting bloc. Many of its members hold prominent positions throughout local government. It’s the wrong group to offend.
Talk about not understanding your audience. Guillen might as well have extolled the virtues of dogfighting to the Humane Society.
During Guillen’s playing days, I interviewed him several times. I never thought there was malice behind his wrongheaded comments – just a total lack of understanding about most subjects away from the baseball field. Being baseball smart isn’t good enough for someone who likes to talk as much as Guillen.
Some in the media don’t understand all the fuss. Guillen was only exercising free speech, they say, and who really cares about some manager’s off-the-cuff remarks on geopolitics? After all, Guillen doesn’t dictate public policy. He fills out lineup cards. Guillen’s rights, however, haven’t been infringed on. He isn’t under investigation by the U.S. government for expressing his opinion. He’s facing the consequences of his actions in the workplace.
As a high-profile Marlins employee, Guillen should be held accountable for his conduct representing the organization. Also, he can’t go into a crowded theater and yell, “Fire!” That’s essentially what many of Miami’s Cuban Americans believe he did in fawning over Castro. In those parts, that’s still the quickest way to incite a riot. Although the Marlins opted for a five-game scolding, 50 may have been more appropriate for the latest mess Guillen created by making thoughtless comments about a topic that requires more sophistication than understanding when to double-switch.
At his best, Guillen is a fiery, engaging storyteller. He’s a real character.
About 15 years ago, a young baseball writer sheepishly approached Guillen, then a member of the Atlanta Braves, to interview him about playing shortstop (Guillen was a three-time all-star).
Guillen pulled over a chair, told me to sit down next to him and spent approximately 30 minutes sharing anecdotes about growing up in his native Venezuela, life in the big leagues and what made certain foods better than others. Really.
We never got around to discussing the shortstop position. Still, I considered it time well spent.
That’s the guy Loria was expecting. He wanted Ozzie to be Ozzie to help pack ’em in at Marlins Park. But buyer beware.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns go to washingtonpost.com/reid.