The Miami Marlins have a new stadium, a new logo and a brand new bag of flaming poop on their doorstep to stomp out.
The Marlins should have expected it. And suspending Ozzie Guillen for five games, which the team did Tuesday, isn’t likely to make much of a difference. Guillen has never been a stranger to controversy and he just can’t keep his mouth shut. He’s like Yogi Berra with a horrible hangover. Or Bad Santa at the Ballpark.
“I’m the Charlie Sheen of baseball minus the drugs and the prostitutes,” he once said.
Below are some of his best (or worst) verbal stinkbombs.
He might have to take a refresher.
He’s been with the Marlins barely six months and he’s neck deep in his second political firestorm. The first came when he was first named skipper and local radio stations roasted him for supporting Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
In his very first press conference as the team’s manager, back in September, Ozzie fired back with a sizzling line drive.
“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.”
That would have been a great play, if it were true. Problem is, it wasn’t. Ozzie was on Chavez’s radio show twice in 2005 and later said, “Not too many people like the president. I do.”
This time, just a few games into the season, Ozzie has incensed South Florida’s Cuban exile community. In an interview that appeared on Time Magazine’s website this week, Guillen said “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 [expletive] is still here.”
Tuesday, in a 50-minute press conference in Miami, Ozzie said he has been crying over the pain his comments caused. He said he hasn’t slept well for three days thinking about it.
“The interpretation didn’t come out as I wanted. I was thinking in Spanish and I said the wrong thing in English,” he said. He later expanded to say that “everybody in the world hates Fidel Castro, including myself. I was surprised that he’s still in power. That’s what I was trying to say to the journalist. And that’s the first thing that came out of my mouth. I admit it. It was the wrong words.”
This is exactly what the Marlins did not need. They’re already one of baseball’s worst-drawing teams — 29th out of 30 in total attendance last year. And their controversial new $634 million stadium is a major sore spot with the taxpayers who had to foot the bill.
Guillen and some big-ticket players they added to the roster were supposed to turn things around. Now they’ve got local politicians denouncing Ozzie, Cuban exile groups threatening a boycott and protesters marching outside the new facility carrying signs calling Guillen a “jerk” and telling him to “go back to Venezuela.” That’s not going to help the team fill the stands.
Of course, Ozzie says he gets it this time. He promised never to speak of politics again. “This is the biggest mistake of my life. When you make a mistake this big … I will learn from this.”
He also promised that if he slips and does it again, he won’t wait for the team to fire him — he’ll quit.
At least that shows he may not know when to keep his mouth shut, but he understands the most basic rule of baseball — in any city: Three strikes and you’re out.