10 April 2012
Thoughtcrime in Major League Baseball
A Major League baseball manager with a world championship to his credit has been suspended without pay for something he said in a magazine interview. Did he insult women? Did he insult homosexuals? Did he advocate beaning opposing batters? None of the above. Instead, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen put his job in jeopardy by saying, "I love Fidel Castro....I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have tried to kill Fidel Castro for 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here." It's a self-styled tough guy respecting another supposed tough guy. The problem is that Miami is thick with Cuban exiles and their descendants. The Marlins' stadium is located in "Little Havana." For many of its denizens, and for many of their representatives in city government, unconditional hatred for Castro is mandatory. Castro's survival is something to be regretted rather than admired on any level. Guillen's apologies and excuses (he claims to have been thinking in Spanish without translating himself into English properly) seem insufficient to politicians and rabble rousers who want him fired for a virtually apolitical comment. A Miami sportswriter considers those comments equivalent to the manager of the New York Yankees showing any sort of respect to Osama bin Laden. I concede the point, if only to observe that neither the theoretically obnoxious New Yorker nor the actually obnoxious Miami manager (who has insulted women and homosexuals in the past) deserves to lose a job coaching baseball for comments that are neither relevant to baseball nor capable of being characterized as bigoted or harassing. This country goes sixty years backwards if Guillen gets fired over this idiocy -- it's already backslid if he can get suspended for it. I should make clear quickly that everyone else has every right to slam him for saying what he did about Castro, but those who dish it out should be prepared to take it, too. Let's start with: if Guillen gets fired, I hope Miami loses 100 games this year, at least. I curse the Marlins if they can Guillen: may they go as long as the Cubs without a title if they give in to this Red-baiting garbage. Baseball fans believe in curses, so I hope they take this seriously. Let's call them the Miami Batistas or Miami Mafia if it happens -- because if people don't like Castro that must be what they stand for, right? Do I jump to conclusions? Then as Ernest Hemingway, another friend of Cuba, used to say, "How do you like it now, gentlemen?"