The most dangerous thing these days seems to be words. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and social media, if you’re famous, your words will live on forever. Anything controversial or contradictory you say will spread like wildfire throughout the Twitterverse and blogosphere. Just ask Ozzie Guillen.
Is Ozzie Guillen a victim of English being his second language or did he bring this upon himself?
The quote that got Ozzie in trouble with Miami’s Cuban-American community and suspended for five games by the Miami Marlins was this one from a Time Magazine article:
“I love Fidel Castro… I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that (SOB) is still here.”
Of course, the media has shortened the quote to four words: “I love Fidel Castro.”
Back in 2008, Ozzie talked about Castro as well. The quote went a little like this:
And I asked him this: “Who’s the toughest man you know?’’
His response, which took me by surprise: “Fidel Castro.’’
“He’s a bull—- dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power. Still has a country behind him,’’ Ozzie replied. “Everywhere he goes, they roll out the red carpet. I don’t admire his philosophy; I admire him.’’
So we have two quotes that are and yet aren’t similar. Both are in the vein of Castro being able to survive despite all that is being done to oust him. The problem is that Guillen dropped an L-bomb in the most recent quote. It’s a sound bite so tempting that everyone has shortened his quote to that. In the ongoing spin of this story, I heard ESPN Radio host (and wannabe NCAA basketball coach) Doug Gottlieb shorten the 2008 quote to “I love Castro” as well.
The difference between the 2008 and 2012 quotes makes me think of a few different possibilities. Since I don’t have a Time Magazine subscription, I can’t confirm that other media outlets have quoted the article accurately or Ozzie’s quote in the article in its entirety. That’s not to say that the Time Magazine reporter might have omitted part of what Ozzie said in order to make for a more interesting story.
The (hopefully) more likely scenario is that Guillen’s lack of command over the English language has done him in. In 2008, he’s said that he didn’t agree with Castro’s policies but respected the fact that he’s kept fighting and hasn’t died yet. In 2012, that last part about disagreeing with Fidel’s politics and tactics isn’t there. The quote could be misinterpreted sarcasm. Ozzie could have assumed that the writer asked a question where he’s already on record as saying he doesn’t like Castro so the writer should know his opinion already.
Ozzie has to shoulder some of the blame here as well. Saying anything that could be remotely interpreted as pro-Castro or spun as pro-Castro when managing a team whose stadium is in Little Havana isn’t terribly bright. While Ozzie likes being Ozzie which involves telling jokes and saying the first thing to come to mind, sometimes being boring pays off. Hindsight being 20/20, he probably should have been a bit more careful with what he said. But dealing in his second language and with a reporter who probably didn’t want to do a sports story anyway didn’t help his cause in this instance.
Okay, I understand why Cuban-Americans are angry with Ozzie. So why are the non-Cuban American sports writers trying to crucify Guillen as well?
The first is that they’re American. If you look at any major country in the world, they’re capable of cordial relations with Cuba and Fidel Castro. Apart from some European Unions members, America is the only country that can’t and doesn’t even try to have cordial international relations with Cuba.
This won’t be a popular opinion but, America, this is how most of the world thinks of you. America has this attitude that anything that isn’t keeping with American ideals is evil and needs to be fixed. Cuba is a socialist dictatorship. America hates Cuba because it isn’t a capitalist democracy. They also hate Cuba because it has universal health care which is something a good number of Americans are against… Okay, just idiot Republicans. It makes sense that American sports writers would be anti-Guillen because any pro-Castro comment could be spun as anti-American in the us versus them American way of thinking.
By the way, do you see any non-Cuban Canadian sports writers (or non-Cuban sports writers of any nationality) writing about Guillen’s comments about Castro? NO! It’s not their business because they have no personal or family history with Castro. So either the non-Cuban (and notice how I don’t say non-Hispanic because this issue is smaller than even the general Hispanic population of American) is wading into this issue because they hate what Cuba stands for or we move on to reason #2.
The second reason why everyone and their dog is after Guillen is much easier to grasp (especially if you’re American and can’t get past Cuba’s whole socialism thing). You may think that analysts are on TV or on radio or on the internet to analyse but they’re trying to sell their and their employer’s brands. Basically, the job of any decent analyst is to move the needle, whether it’s to draw TV viewers, radio listeners or page views.
The thing is that you can’t move the needle with a fair and balanced opinion and analysis. You need to make a splash. Think of it this way: Skip Bayless is talked about by media watchers not because of any eloquent analysis or opinions he has (because he doesn’t know what anything I just wrote means). No, he’s talked about because he provokes people into making him the story.
Similarly, that what analysts who have no business talking about baseball or Cuban politics or Cuban immigration are doing. They’re inserting themselves into a story they have no business getting involved in. These writers/commentators/useless talking heads who say Ozzie should be suspended or fired are doing so to provoke a reaction. If they get people talking, they become the story and increase their brand awareness. At the end of the day, selling themselves is the most important thing they can do. Being a troll is a far easier way to get your name out there than to compose a well-written piece of prose.
Speaking of people putting their foot in their mouth, Mitt Romney is the Republican Presidential candidate. There’s no way he can beat Obama, right?
The long and short of it is that Romney will probably run on a typical Republican agenda: Lower taxes for the wealthy, cut social spending, eliminate “Obama Care,” increase defence spending, crack down on petty crime and immigration and generally be a laughing-stock as a head of state outside the USA.
Sure, Obama should absolutely demolish Romney. If he doesn’t question Romney conviction under pressure or mention his hypocrisy over ObamaCare (Romney implemented a similar quasi-universal health care initiative while the governor of Massachusetts), he can always unleash the power of the 99% on Romney’s unabashedly one-percenter ass.
Still, you’ve got to remember that the Republican base is entirely based on religious/social beliefs rather than any economic benefits from voting for one party over another. It would make sense for the generally middle-class and lower, deeply Christian Republican voters from the deep south to vote Democrat/Obama. Instead, they vote anti-immigration and anti-homosexual and anti-abortion. It doesn’t make any sense why they’d Republican but I guess religion trumps the ability to put food on the table.
So from here we’ve got almost seven months until people actually vote on the President. All that we with common sense can do is tell Romney subliminally, liminally and superliminally to pick Sarah Palin as his VP candidate. Or maybe we can convince Palin to hijack everything and run for President. That would help Obama too.