Let’s be clear about this. Ozzie Guillen, beloved manager of the White Sox in 2005 and maligned villain of Miami, stands by his comments he made about Fidel Castro in 2012. On Monday, a teaser for the first episode of The Book of Ozzie was released by La Vida Baseball and Guillen keeps ripping into his defense.
But first, a little context. He had only managed the Fish for seven days before he made headlines for saying:
“I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? Because many people have tried to kill Fidel Castro in the last 60 years, yet that [SOB] is still there.”
There is not a worse place to whisper a pro-Castro sentiment than Miami where a section of town is named “Little Havana.” Generations of Cuban refugees settled in Miami after washing ashore and escaping Castro’s heavy hand. Many ballplayers know the dangers associated with defecting from the island. In fact, Yasiel Puig’s story is rumored to be in production for a Hollywood movie. And the White Sox’s own Jose Abreu scarfed down a phony Haitian passport — washed down with a Heineken — to escape Castro’s dictatorship.
Guillen is known for his irreverence, something every White Sox fan fell in love with. He broadcasts every thought that crosses his mind without filtering it through a vetting process of any kind. It just blasts its way into the world. And doing so amplifies the consequences.
Next, Ozzie stumbled through an apology:
“I’m against the way he [Castro] treats people and the way [he has treated] his country for a long time. I’m against that 100 percent,” he said. “…The way this man [has been] treating people for the last 60 years.”
Ozzie echoes that statement in his most recent video and tries to explain what he meant by his comments.
— La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseball) June 4, 2018
He certainly says a lot in this snippet, but what most people will take from this trailer is that he admires a man that presided over evil for 60 years for his unalloyed arrogance. What Guillan praises most is Castro’s unflappable ignorance towards self-awareness.
Look, coaches try to inspire their teams in many ways. Relating the confidence to ignore the haters in pursuit of greatness in athletics is not analogous to staging a coup, committing human atrocities, but still jumping in photos with fans and haters alike. Ozzie could have found myriad other ways to send that message and he would probably still have a job (although I don’t think he could’ve saved the Marlins from Derek Jeter).
Time heals all wounds and Guillen deserves a helping of forgiveness. I mean, he wasn’t beating the drum for Castro — merely using him as a prop in a story.