Updated at 3:30 p.m. with further Guillen comments
Less than a week into his first season as the Miami Marlins’ manager, Ozzie Guillen is in trouble for praising Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
In what the Miami Herald calls Guillen’s “welcome-to-Miami moment” involving the “most reviled man in Miami,” protesters are calling for his firing and he said Monday that he will spend the team’s off-day Tuesday making an official apology in Miami.
“I want to make everything clear what's going on. Then people can see me and know what I think,” Guillen said in Philadelphia, where the Marlins are playing. “I think it's the proper thing so people can see my eyes and ask every question they want to ask.
It won’t be easy, but Guillen doesn’t want the session limited to the media. “I want the people there. Whoever feels about it, ask me any questions,” he said. “I want you to ask what you ask, because I feel bad? Yes. I feel embarrassed? Yes.”
Guillen stumbled into the political storm in a Time.com interview in which he said: “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? Many people have tried to kill Fidel Castro in the last 60 years, yet that [SOB] is still there.”
The team had sought to distance itself from its manager’s words Saturday, issuing a statement that said: “We are aware of the article. There is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro. He is a brutal dictator who has caused unimaginable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community full of victims of that dictatorship and people in Cuba are still suffering.”
Guillen, who has for years lived in Miami in the offseason, apologized to the team’s Cuban-born broadcasters Sunday and called reporters who cover the Marlins to his office Sunday and apologized.
“I’m against the way he [Castro] treats people and the way [he has treated] his country for a long time,” he said. “I’m against that 100 percent,” he said. “…The way this man [has been] treating people for the last 60 years.”
During his years managing the White Sox, Guillen often found himself in trouble for things he said. In 2006, he was fined and ordered by Major League Baseball to undergo sensitivity training after he described a Chicago columnist with a homophobic slur. The year before, Guillen, who is from Venezuela, said he liked Hugo Chavez, although he has been critical of Chavez since. As for this gaffe, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal thinks it merits a suspension; Guillen’s initial apology wasn’t going over well with the Herald’s George Diaz, who wrote:
“Guillen's hastily-called apology Saturday night reeks of someone who knew the heat was coming big-time, and figured that spin mode was his only way out. And I'm not entirely sure he was being flip, since he is from Venezuela, home to another [expletive] dictator and one of Castro's BFFs, Hugo Chavez.
“I don't know if it will be enough. It won't be enough because people like me will never forget the courage it took for my parents to leave all of their possessions behind, except for a couple of suitcases, and catch a flight out of Cuba with their three children in 1961.
“Both of them died here. Although they became citizens and loved this country, they were never able to return to their home and the land they loved.
“So no, I don't 'love' Fidel Castro, Ozzie.”
Diaz stopped short of calling for Guillen’s job, although Vigilia Mambisa did not. It told Miami’s NBC affiliate it will boycott the team and demostrate until Guillen resigns or is fired.
Guillen made another apology Sunday, for saying he gets drunk after games, but the Castro comments got far more attention. Guillen said he was done talking politics, but the issue wasn’t going away, with #ozziemisquotes trending on Twitter. “When you talk politics in Miami, especially that man [Castro], you've got a chance to put yourself in [this] position,” Guillen said Sunday. “Everybody is upset and kind of sad at what I said. I'm a grown man. I can take it. I want to let them know I apologize.”