Baseball Morality: You Can Lie to the Taxpayers You Steal Money From, But Just Don't You Go Talking About Fidel Castro!


Crazy train, off the rails

Manager Ozzie Guillen of baseball's Miami (formerly Florida) Marlins has been suspended for five games and pushed into a humiliating public apology for saying these words to a Time magazine reporter:

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 son of a bitch is still there.

Now, saying the words "I love Fidel Castro" is ridonkulous in any context, let alone for one of the highest-profile human beings trying to sell a public product in South Florida. But there are three complicating caveats:

1) Ozzie Guillen is a famous crazy person, especially the way that he flaps his gums. I wish The New Yorker brought this recent Ben McGrath piece on Guillen and the Marlins out from behind the paywall, because Ozzie's quotes there are hilarious, profane, totally nonsensical, honest, self-contradicting, and generally unhelpful. As the Sun-Sentinel's Mike Berardino points out, "it was Ozzie's former boss, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who called him, 'The Hispanic Jackie Mason.'" Guillen calls sportswriters "fags" (for which he received fines and sensitivy training, then claimed he couldn't be homophobic because he likes Madonna and the WNBA), swears like a sailor's uncle, has questionable command of the English language, and is generally one of the most entertaining characters in modern sports.

The best your tax money can buy

2) Ozzie Guillen has also said that Fidel Castro is "a bullshit dictator," and criticized actor Sean Penn for being a Hugo Chavez apologist (Guillen hails from Venezuela). Here's Rick Telander in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Let me take you back to September 2008.

I interviewed Ozzie, then the White Sox' manager, for a back-page Q & A in the national magazine Men's Journal. […]

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."

Ozzie's not a fan

This isn't too hard to understand, right? Here is some of Ozzie's Penn-bashing:

"Sean Penn defended Chavez is easy when you have money, and no leave in out country. Shame on you, Mr. Penn." […]

"Sean Penn, if you love Venezuela please move to Venezuela for a year," […]

He also tweeted that Penn move specifically to an impoverished city such as Guarenas or Guatire "to see how long you last," and called him a "clown."

Ozzie being Ozzie, his Chavez statements have been all over the map:

Guillen bristled Wednesday at the suggestion he was a fan of the Venezuelan president Chavez.

"Don't tell my wife that, because she hates that man. She hates him to death," Guillen said. "I supported Chavez? If I was supporting Chavez, do you think I would be manager of the Marlins? I never supported Chavez." […]

Guillen said he has never spoken to Chavez, but in fact he appeared on the Venezuelan leader's national radio show twice in October 2005, when Guillen led the Chicago White Sox to the World Series title.

At the time, Guillen said: "Not too many people like the president. I do. My mom will kill me, but it's an honor to talk to the president."

Guillen became a U.S. citizen in 2006, and he has been more critical of Chavez in recent years.

"It's not my fault Chavez is the president," Guillen said Wednesday. "I didn't put him there. … We got what we deserved."

He has no idea where he is, does he?

3) The Miami Marlins, one of the very worst corporate welfare whores in the history of professional sports, were responding to overt public pressure from a series of local elected officials:

The Chairman of the Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners has called on Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to urge Guillen to resign.

In an open letter sent to the media on Monday, Joe A. Martinez said "there is no alternative that would be satisfactory"[.]

"To say you respect Fidel Castro, suggests he also respects dictators such as Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, Adolf Hitler and Sadam Hussein," the letter reads.

Francis Suarez, chairman of the City of Miami Commission, said: "Mr. Guillen's admiration for a dictator who has destroyed the lives of so many and who has violated the basic human rights of millions is shameful."

Suarez also targeted Guillen for his recent comments about getting drunk. The manager said he routinely gets drunk after games and has done so for many years.

"Mr. Guillen's cavalier attitude about the serious issue of alcohol abuse is reckless and not suitable for a public figure in a position of leadership in our community," Suarez said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement "condemning" Guillen's comments.

"I now challenge them to take decisive steps to bring this community back together," his statement read.

Any politician who cares more about loose Castro talk from a baseball manager than about hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars looted by a billionaire liar deserves to be dunk-tanked by Greg Maddux, for a year.

Keith Olbermann is right–this isn't, strictly speaking, a First Amendment issue. Congress didn't pass any law, and the Marlins are still a private company even after all those ill-gotten public gains. But like the L.A. City Council's rebuke of popular talk-radio figures John and Ken, the Miami political establishment's behavior in this case has been shameful and creepy. And like when Cumulus banned the Dixie Chicks from its airwaves over the country act's mildly intemperate words about George W. Bush, this private clampdown on an entertainer's political babble narrows the climate for practical free speech, and reinforces a bland sort of public conformity.

Read it!

Yes, but couldn't you say the same of National Review cutting loose John Derbyshire after his racist spasm over at Taki's Magazine? Indeed you could and arguably should, since opinion journalists will likely feel less inclined now to write about African-American crime rates. But here's an important difference: Derbyshire is an opinion journalist, and all publications in this category have (evolving) standards about its contributors involving constant political judgment calls. I defended The American Prospect's right to decide I wasn't the right media columnist for them, even if the episode felt a bit political at the time. If a Reason writer started talking constantly about loving Fidel Castro, he/she wouldn't be a Reason writer for long, and rightly so.

But Ozzie Guillen is grown man who wears pajamas to work. And one who felt compelled today to say: "This is the last time this person talks about politics."

NEXT: Space-Aged Whiskey and Russian Rockets

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  1. Guys! Salty ham tears girl is on TV right now! She’s holding it back…I don’t know how, considering how lame this speech is.

    1. Yup. Santorum is done.

      To be fair, spending Easter in the hospital as your 3-year-old daughter fights for life could rearrange anyone’s priorities.

      1. Does this mean I have to think of him as a human being?

        1. Yeah, no person should have to deal with the loss of a child, no matter how despicable they are.

        2. To me, that was always his biggest fault. Too human to do anything but fuck shit up and get them most basic concepts wrong.

          Hope his kid gets better. No three year old should even be aware of his own mortality.

          I showed the Apollo 11 lift off to my closing in on two year old on the 60 inch HD yesterday. His mouth was agape the entire time. soon as it was over, he grabbed a Reese’s Easter egg from his basket and was over it instantly.

      2. I don’t care for his politics, but I hope things work out with his daughter. That’s terrible.

        His other daughter seems to be Bristolly. I wonder if she’s a Palin-Santorum love child?

        1. That’s a very disturbing thought, Pro’L Dib.

          1. She’s more attractive than I expected, given her earlier appearance. My Palin detector is going off. Maybe a surrogacy?

            1. The RNC implanted some of Palin’s genes to try to create a political Frankenqueen.

              1. Cool. We need more, not less, of that sort of thing.

  2. The Ozzie Guillen story is kind of dumb. Either fire him or ignore him, but suspending him because he offended some fans with political talk?

    I’d much rather talk about Derb.

    1. Me too, but not enough to click a gawker link.

      1. As far as Gawker goes, it’s pretty fair and tolerable.

    2. I wonder what kind of clause is in Ozzie’s contract that allows the team to suspend him for dumb statements? If it’s in there, he should fire his agent, because Ozzie’s gonna say dumb stuff.

  3. I’m assuming Guillen’s “questionable command of the English language” played a signigicant part in his comments, assuming the Time interview was in English.

    “We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.”

    1. played a signigicant part


      1. Good catch. To think I was afraid I was being too subtle.

        1. It’s worse than you thought:

          played a signigicant

    2. When Sam Bradford was at OU, I was against him and admired him all at the same time. He seemed like a decent guy with talent who I wanted to see fail spectacularly.

  4. Ozzie’s also the same guy who demands his players be on the top step of the dugout paying attention to the national anthem. So, he says some off the wall things; whoop-de-damn-do. When Casey Stengel did it, it was ‘colorful’. Yogi Berra had a whole book based on ridiculous things, including some he did not say. Ozzie didn’t sneak up on anyone; you know what you get with him. Besides, people in Miami have ignored the Marlins for years.

    1. Boycotting the Marlins is like boycotting Kmart. Nobody goes anyways, but this time we mean it!

  5. Guillen looks like Chief Tyrol in that picture.

  6. “We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.”

    This. I think Teddy Roosevelt had some really awful policies, but I still admire the man himself as a badass. Granted, I don’t really see much to admire in Castro as a man.

    1. I hate almost everything TR stood for, but any man who talks for 30 minutes after getting shot has got some stones.

      1. He’s a great historical figure. Inherently entertaining. Unfortunately, he helped unlimit our previously limited government.

        1. Speaking of unlimited government. How ’bout that Fidel? Ozzie is crazy. I am not a Marlins fan, anymore. But not because of this. I must say, it takes courage to manage the first openly gay team in baseball.

          I am now a Nats fan. The nats should hire Oz. he would fit right in in DC, what with their smelly Asians and such.

  7. “Indeed you could and arguably should, since opinion journalists will likely feel less inclined now to write about African-American crime writes.”

    s/writes/rates ? Otherwise I’m not sure what you’re saying in this sentence.

    1. Whoa, thanks.

  8. Oh, FFS, I yield to no one in my loathing of ol’ Busy Whiskers, but this is just stoopid. Tell Ozzie he’s a dipshit and play ball.

  9. Here’s my take on the situation. I am a lawyer who does most of his work defending a large pharmaceutical manufacturer. If I were quoted in a major newspaper or magazine arguing against tort reform or criticizing the pharmaceutical industry, I would probably be fired. Would it be wrong for my employer to do so? I’m sure you could make an argument that it would be, but at the same time it should be apparent that pissing off one of our largest clients could be bad for business.

    It’s the same thing here. It’s simply a matter of a high-profile employee pissing off a large segment of its customer base, and I don’t have a problem with it regardless of the Marlins’ assumption of the risk and/or unclean hands.

    1. I don’t think Welch was criticizing the financial soundness of the action, so much as criticizing the political elements that are demanding Guillen’s resignation juxtaposed with the corporate welfare those same political elements provided to Guillen’s team.

      1. Understood. I was simply offering my perspective, as opposed to refuting Welch.

    2. Do you have a contract or are you an at-will employee?

  10. Of course they should suspend him. It would be a PR disaster otherwise. His right to say these comments is irrelevant. He is a prominent public face of a business organization that desperately seeks to attract customers from a strongly anti-Castro region of the country.

    So anyone who is surprised he got suspended simply has no business sense whatsoever.

    1. Who said they were surprised? As said at the top, saying those words while trying to sell a very public product in South Florida is pure madness.

      1. It’s like praising Disneyland in Orlando.

        1. No one bad mouths the Mouse in O-town. They have “ears” everywhere.

          1. No, I meant Disneyland, not Disney World. Obviously, no sane person in the state says anything bad about Disney World.

            1. Six Flags or Busch Gardens would have been a better opponent for Disney World than Disneyland. Disneyland and Disney World don’t really compete, since they’re owned by the same company.

              1. Really, you shouldn’t be allowed out of your house alone with that sort of na?vete.

  11. A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there

    That’s pretty easy to do when you put everyone in the country who opposes you in jail or the morgue.

    1. or the morgue.

      The mafia puts people in the morgue, Communist dictators puts people in ditches.

  12. Baseball is so goddamn boring – at leas this guy injects a modicum of entertainment into it!

      1. Watching [b]aseball is so goddamn boring…

        Playing, OTOH, is much more satisfying.

        WRT to baseball needing more colourful characters, definitely.

      2. Watching [b]aseball is so goddamn boring…

        Playing, OTOH, is much more satisfying.

        WRT to baseball needing more colourful characters, definitely.

      3. Watching [b]aseball is so goddamn boring…

        Playing, OTOH, is much more satisfying.

        WRT to baseball needing more colourful characters, definitely.

        1. Physician, heal thyself.

        2. I hope you’re better at playing baseball than posting comments on H&R.

          1. Three strikes, I’m out.

            Curse you squirrelz.

        3. Da squirrels gotchya!

          But yes, I agree. I enjoyed my time playing little league and softball. And I kind of enjoy going to the ballpark, but that’s mostly for the peripheral activities like beer and people watching on a hot summer’s day (plus, it’s cheap – even the MLB).

          1. MLB is the only league that has been smart enough to give people a reason to go to the games beyond the games themselves.

            The NFL is headed for a huge fall. They fail to understand that in the day and age of 80 inch HD soon to be 3d TVs, you can’t charge people $80 to sit in the cheap seats anymore.

            1. The NFL has the advantage of only have 8 games a year in each city (maybe more if the team gets into the playoffs), and they’re always on a weekend or in the evenings. I think that might slow their slide a little bit.

              1. True. But most NFL fans are fantasy degenerates now. And it is hard to follow your fantasy team at a game. Much easier to sit in your house watching the Red Zone Channel.

                In many ways college football is better set up for the future than the NFL is. Their games are events. Students want to go to the game as a party and social event and alumni want to go to old home week. And since there are so many teams, there isn’t much fantasy college football. That means their fans actually watch the games and the commercials live.

                1. I really, really, really wish I had the Red Zone. And the NFL Sunday Ticket. I like my cable company* and all (yes, seriously, I do like them), but they’re too insignificant to make big deals with the likes of the NFL.

                  *Cox. I like Cox. Heh heh.

                2. My alma mater doesn’t even have a hoofball team.

                  And my home state’s university doesn’t have a hoofball team that would ever make anything of themselves on the national stage. Hockey, on the other hand….

                  1. That is just because you are not from America, or at least real America, Kristen. It is okay though, we accept Dangy, we can accept you.

              2. I went to a Jaguars game in 2003. Seat way up in heaven, expensive beer, bad team, but it “only” cost me $35.

                The TV works a lot better for me. If I want to go see a sporting event in person, I’ll go to a college / minor league game.

            2. MLB is the only league that has been smart enough to give people a reason to go to the games beyond the games themselves.

              They had to, otherwise you could get the same experience sitting out in your backyard with the game on the radio.

        4. I’m with Trey Parker and Matt Stone on this one:


          1. So. damn. funny. One of the best.

    1. I like watching baseball. My favorite sports to watch on TV are baseball, the winter Olympics (or other event with really fast skiing and sledding) and tennis. Does that make me weird?

      1. It makes you the Least Interesting Man in the World. Congrats.

        1. “I don’t always bore my houseguests to death, but when I do I prefer to do it opening-the-ark-face-melting style. Stay Melted, My Friends.”

          1. There are some female tennis players who are fun to watch.

  13. This was posted late in the AM links, so hey, here it comes again:

    More fun when politics and sports collide!

  14. I don’t understand what the big fat hairy deal about insulting Castro is.

    I mean, Cuba is the model of the world when it comes to health care, right?

    We should be looking to Castro for answers as to how to fix our health care system, not punishing people who invoke his name with anything other than derision.

    Michael Moore told me so.

    1. In pretty much any other city, that is probably exactly how it would work.

  15. I’m a lifelong White Sox fan so I am quite familiar with Ozzie’s rants. But now that I read the actual quote, I think this is a BS charge. If you say you “love” someone and then immediately call the person a son of a bitch, I think the “love” part is just poorly worded, and nothing more.

    1. Given that Ozzie has admitted to getting drunk and passing out after every game for the last 25 years, it may have just been the booze talking.

    2. The rest of it is pretty stupid.

      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

      First, he doesn’t have the country behind him anymore than a warden at a prison has the inmates behind him. Second, what is there to admire about a murderous piece of shit who enslaved an entire country and made them worship his cult of personality?

      What he said was pretty offensive and stupid. I can understand why the Cubans are pissed.

      1. This is just more pearl-clutching. He called him an asshole, for Galt’s sake.

        1. That is not pearl clutching at all.

          I love that Hitler guy. Sure he was an asshole. But he got all of Germany behind him. They tried to kill him and he still stayed in power. It took the whole world to bring him down. Wherever he went he got the red carpet.

          Yeah, that would go over well. What Chavez said was stupid and offensive. There is no defending it.

          1. I’m not going to defend the Third Reich, but you have to admire those SS uniforms. What style! What panache!

            1. And of course National Socialism is at least an ethos.

          2. What the fuck is pearl clutching?

      2. what is there to admire about a murderous piece of shit who enslaved an entire country and made them worship his cult of personality?

        I’m confused, are you talking about Castro or Obama? /sarc

    3. I don’t understand exactly what the Marlins expected when they hired him. He’s Ozzie Freakin’ Guillen. This isn’t even in the top 10 of questionable things he said.

      It’s like if they hired me and a month later complained that I kept talking to them about statistics. It’s what he does, suddenly they’re shocked to find that out?

  16. Matt,

    You make no sense at all. If Reason can decide that they don’t want a Fidel lover or NOR can decide that they don’t want someone who speaks a bit too frankly about race, then the Marlins can sure as hell decide they don’t want a manager who shoots his mouth off offending their customers.

    The Marlins are in the entertainment business not the opinion business. They have every right to tell their employees to refrain from saying political things that turn their customers away.

    1. Of course the Marlins sure as hell can do this, and have cause given their product. I didn’t say otherwise!

      1. It’s not your fault John can’t read.

      2. Then what did you mean by this

        And like when Cumulus banned the Dixie Chicks from its airwaves over the country act’s mildly intemperate words about George W. Bush, this private clampdown on an entertainer’s political babble narrows the climate for practical free speech, and reinforces a bland sort of public conformity.

        Isn’t that saying they shouldn’t do it?

        1. Doesn’t appear to say anything about what anyone should do. And it seems fairly accurate. The Marlins have no obligation to provide a venue for practical free speech.

    2. I think Matt was objecting to the public statements of Miami politicians demanding Guillen’s firing.

      Until we can get Lochner-type restrictions on the power of the states and municipalities to restrict economic freedom, I think we can adopt a clear rule of thumb that any statement by any state or local politician directing a business owner to take any action is per se coercion and extortion.

      1. If the Marlins didn’t have their nose in the public trough, those statements wouldn’t carry so much weight would they? Fuck the Marlins, they want the government to pay for their stadium, they can live with local politicians choosing their manager.

        1. I’m not judging the Marlins.

          I’m judging Joe A. Martinez.

          An extortionist doesn’t stop being an extortionist because his victim is a louse.

          1. If you take the mob’s money, you really can’t complain when they want something in return.

            1. No, but other people can complain that the whole racket is criminal and call out the worst offenders.

  17. WTF is this talk about the talk? What talk? The only “talk” I got as a kid was about sex (and my dad was so embarrassed he never even got to the part about penetration).

    Is Derbyshire’s class culture so insular that parents have to sit down with their kids to explain to them that there are people of different skins tones out in the big cruel world? You really think your responsibility not to send out a bigoted loin dropping into the world is fulfilled by a single sit-down talk?

    1. It was a rethorical device. He didn’t really mean he had that talk literally. He was responding to several thumb sucking columns about the “talk” that all black parents allegedly have to have with their sons about the evils of white society. So his response was “okay here is the “talk” white parents should have if they want to tell their kids the truth”.

    2. Oh… I finally got to page two where he stops being crypto-racist and lets rip with in-your-face vileness.

  18. I understand where Guillen is coming from completely, but at the same time the Marlins are a business, albeit a crappy one, and this is something you shouldn’t say when you represent Miami.

    Sportswriter Dan LeBatard put it this way: no matter the context of what he was trying to say, you live in and represent a community where a large portion of the population had their childhoods stolen by Castro and family members imprisoned or shot. He’s pretty much Hitler to the Cuban immigrant community.

    1. There is no pretty much to it. From their perspective he is. And they are right to view him that way.

      1. Aargh. The world needs a 10 year moratorium on comparing things to Hitler.

        Castro is Castro and Hitler is Hitler. They are both awful people, but in different ways. Yes, they are both totalitarian, murderous fuckheads, but there are so many types and grades of totalitarian murderous fuckheads that a bit more subtlety is called for, I think.

        1. At some point you hit so far on the evil scale, the difference is meaningless. Hitler did more damage, but that is only because he manage to get control of a better country. There is no way I can see to meaningfully say one is better than the other.

          1. Hello? “Final solution” mean anything to you?

    2. And LeBatard’s show with his father is hysterical.

  19. He and Jose Canseco should combine forces.
    I think Canseco said the other day that the US should invade Cuba and annex it, like they did Puerto Rico.

  20. Wow does Castro look like Charlie Manson in that photo.

    1. Looks like? Only when you understand that they are one and the same will you achieve true harmony with nature.

      1. Needs more forehead swastika. Separated at birth? Maybe.

  21. Well he gave the south Florida politicians a great opportunety to pander so they have to be happy. This is much to do about nothing.

  22. You know, about 90% of that “racist spasm” Derb was canned for is common sense.

    1. And the other 10%* was pure shit.

      * – taking your numbers as fact, which I don’t.

      1. Clutch your pearls elsewhere.

        1. Nice* try, John.

          * not really

    2. Yeah but you can’t just up and say that stuff out loud. It’s cool if you’re black and talking about how to deal with whites in the world but it’s horribly insensitive and racist if you’re white talking about how to deal with blacks in the world. If you’re white you must have no preconceived notions and must deal with every person you meet as an individual regardless of skin color. If you’re black, it’s perfectly normal to first take skin color into consideration, apply already known black cultural rules for dealing with said skin color, then proceed from there.

    3. I don’t know about that. I don’t trust the common sense of a person who thought writing that article was a good idea.

      But Derbyshire’s great sin was stating openly what a whole lot of white people (and not just conservatives) think in private, or at least the guiding principles by which they act. They’re going to attack him to protect themselves and shore up their not-a-racist cred.

      1. When faced with a crowd of young black males wearing their pants around their knees and bandanas on their heads, most white folks, myself included, would not feel safe walking past them. That is NOT racism, that is an rational response to the signals the individuals in that group are making. Maybe they don’t mean to be sending out such threatening signals, but the signals are sent nonetheless. The same black males dressed in mom jeans and polo shirts, however, would not seem the least bit threatening.

        Derbyshit’s sin was conflating all black people into a nebulous threat to warn his children against.

  23. Well, Jackie Mason is both funny and coherent. Two traits Guillen apparently lacks. Jackie Mason is very anti-statism, but since he supports Israel and the US War Machine (whatever that is), it’s okay to disparage him.

    Oh, and as for Derb. You know the mainstream press will not touch it with a 10-foot pole.

    I mean, do you actually think Nancy Pelosi sent dear daughter Alexandra into the ghetto recently to uncover Taxpayer-Funded Welfare abuse? Breitbart was great at calling out the hypocrisy of the limo libs.

    Oh, and I love the registration system. It feels so Arizona-y in here now.

    1. Ozzie Guillen is funny – in a laughing -at-him, not with-him way. It’s like watching Wipeout.

  24. If you are a spokesman for a sports team in Miami and say “I love Castro” then you are too dumb to be a spokesman for a sports team in Miami.

  25. So, I went to Gawker, and Derbyshire is correct about the meaning of race4 in our society and how full of shit we are. Bu then I took this Harvard IAT test. Wow! It is so full of shit, it’s hard to see how anyone uses it of any purpose other than giggles. Before they give you the results, they ASK you, do you prefer white Europeans over blacks. Then, the result of your “test” tells you what you just told them. Crazy man.

  26. “If a Reason writer started talking constantly about loving Fidel Castro, he/she wouldn’t be a Reason writer for long, and rightly so.”

    So that’s what happened to Ratfucker.

  27. Seems like he should just clarify that he feels about Castro like many people feel about cockroaches.

  28. I wish I had a National Review subscription I could cancel.

  29. Now, saying the words “I love Fidel Castro” is ridonkulous in any context…

    Nice going Matt. You pissed off all the high school jocks of the aughts by using their word.

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