Ozzie Guillen, the controversial new manager of the Miami Marlins, did not take long to stick his foot in his mouth in Miami. During an interview with Time Magazine Guillen expressed his respect for Cuban President Fidel Castro and his routine of drinking after every single game.
On Fidel Castro, Guillen explained that he loves and respects the communist dictator for staying in power for so long. This is a major problem in Miami, which is loaded with ex-Cubans, and is probably the most anti-Castro place on planet earth. Vigilia Mambisa, a Miami-based Cuban-American advocacy group, says they will boycott and demonstrate against Guillen until he is fired by the Marlins.
Guillen then dug himself a deeper hole, when he explained his post game tradition of getting loaded.
“I go to a hotel bar, get drunk, sleep. I don’t do anything else. I get drunk, because I’m happy we win or I get drunk, because I’m very sad and disturbed because we lose. Same routine, it never changes, it’s been the same routine for 25…28 years. It doesn’t change. I don’t like to go out.”
Guillen then discussed how being drunk the night before affects him on game day:
“I don’t have time, I’ve got to be here early, and I go to sleep so drunk that I have to recover in time to go to the park.”
Since his statement, Guillen has released an apologetic statement denouncing Castro and his treatment of Cubans. He is also leaving a road trip (likely following today’s daytime win over the Phillies in Philadelphia) to apologize in person to Miami fans. Guillen said that the article was a “cheap shot” and that his comments were taken out of context.
You pay for what you get when you hire Ozzie Guillen. He is wacky, loud and outspoken, but he has won a World Series and players and fanbases love him. I think Ozzie is good for baseball, I love the sport, but it can be a slow moving and dull game, especially to the casual fan. Ozzie gets people talking about baseball, stirs the pot, and that’s what baseball needs.
Look, he should not have said he “Loves” Fidel Castro. That is idiotic. Ozzie is a brash baseball manager, not a politician, and I think he is saying that he respects anyone who can stay in power for 60 years. When you look at it that way, he’s right it’s impressive. Castro, a communist dictator, has managed to stay in power in Cuba for 60 years just miles away from the United States, the biggest capitalist super power in the history of the human race. He has survived multiple assassination attempts and efforts to overthrow his power, which is damn impressive, hate him or not. I think this is what Ozzie was trying to say, but he has to choose his words more carefully, being that he now manages the biggest sport in Cuba in the most Cuban (and anti-Castro) city in the United States.
I have even more of a problem with the people upset with Ozzie’s drinking after every game. These are the same people who were upset by Boston Red Sox pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey drinking beer in the club house during games on their off days. This lead to new manager Bobby Valentine banning beer in the Red Sox club house, dealing a serious blow to a tradition that has been a part of baseball for well over 100 years.
We here at Sportsmasher.com love nothing more than a cold beer (or vodka) and a sporting event of any kind after a long day at the office. Alcohol and sports go together like peanut butter and jelly or Red Bull and vodka, they are simply better together. Of course we are not professional athletes, but alcohol is legal in the United States, and if Ozzie wants to get drunk after games more power to him.
Baseball is the last American sport where you can be an average sized person who is not an absolute freak athlete and still succeed or even excel, although this is getting rarer and rarer. Austin Kearns went yard for the Marlins today, that guy’s body looks like a burlap sack full of mashed potatoes, and he could probably drink most of us under the table. If a guy wants to have a couple of beers, let him, as long as it’s not hurting his performance.
Most of the All-Time Greats in Major League Baseball were drinkers, from Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle to Wade Boggs, who once drank 64 beers on a cross country road trip to Seattle (I’ll write about him soon.)
Hall-of-Fame first baseman Ed Delahanty got so drunk, he was thrown off of a train, fell into the Niagara River, and was swept to his death over Niagara Falls at age 35 in 1903. Okay maybe that’s not the best example, but the story is part of baseball lore to this day.
I get it, athletes are paid millions of dollars to be in top physical condition at all times, and drinking will make that tougher to do. However booze is as much a part of the game of baseball as the suicide squeeze. It makes for great stories, and if managers like Ozzie or players like Boggs want to have a couple (or a ton) of beers and can still get the job done, don’t take that away from them.