The Miami Marlins manager was suspended after his controversial remarks angered Miami's Cuban population.Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has been let out of his contract after resigning from the team. Guillen’s contract was set to expire at the end of the 2012 season although last month he said he wouldn’t return for his final year if a contract extension was given.
“We certainly cannot thank Ozzie enough for all he has done during his eight seasons as manager of the Chicago White Sox, highlighted by an unforgettable 2005 World Series championship.” Reinsdorf went on to add,”I personally appreciate everything he has done for this organization, our fans and the city of Chicago. We shared the greatest moments together and wish him nothing but future success in baseball and in life.”
Now that he’s leaving the White Sox Guillen will join the Florida Marlins in a managerial position.
The Chicago White Sox will likely benefit from Guillen’s decision, under terms of his contract the team is to be compensated if he takes a managerial job with another club before the end of the 2012 season. According to various reports the Marlins will send two minor league players to Chicago in exchange for cash.
The decision to leave the club comes after Reinsdorf and Guillen held a meeting on Monday in which Guillen said “nothing” was decided, he later added:
“We talked about different things, my future here, how we’re going to do it and what we think about the ballclub, what we want, and I left the meeting with nothing,” adding, “We have to wait.
“I showed him how I feel, the way I always do. He talked to me about how he feels about me, myself, my family, the team and the organization. But I left there — I’m not going to say empty-handed — because I left there with my ideas. I left there with what I want (to say), what I should do, and that’s it.”
In a piece that will appear in the upcoming issue of Time Magazine, Guillen is quoted as saying: “I love Fidel Castro.” He later amended his comment, saying: “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 there.”
That’s true, not that truth has any place in public utterances in this country. The United States Government has for decades wanted Fidel Castro dead, tried to kill him repeatedly under JFK, tried to strangle his country with economic embargo, and the son of a bitch won’t die!
Before Saturday’s game against the Reds, Guillen summoned South Florida media members to his office and apologized for the comments. he also went on Spanish radio in Miami to explain himself.
“If [people] are disappointed or upset with what I said, I don’t blame them, but I’m with them,” Guillen said. “I lived in Miami for 12 years. I know exactly what [Castro] means to the town…Everybody is upset and kind of sad with what I said. I’m a grown man. I can take it. I want to let them know I apologize, but in the meanwhile I was not talking about politics.
And that, of course, is the problem – he’s in Miami. The original Cuban expatriates from the 1960′s were the hustlers, mafioso, landed gentry and upper crust supported by the US. They are still a powerful force there – they and their descendents and fellow travelers want their land, money and power back. Even as Cuba offered to settle with them for expropriated property, as international law requires, they wanted no part of it. They wanted their island back, and Castro dead.
“The reason I say I admire him is because a lot of people want to get rid of this guy and they couldn’t yet. That was personal, not politics. If you don’t read the article, it sounds ugly. The first time I read it I was like, ‘Wow, that’s going to get me in trouble.’ I understand that. I’m not hiding from anybody, especially people in Miami.”
Guillen added he is “100 percent” against the way Castro treats people and his country. He’s also cognizant that his statement hurt plenty of people, Venezuelans included, not just members of Miami’s Cuban community.
In polite American society, it’s not polite to talk about Castro without mentioning what a murderer he is, and how oppressed the people on his island are. And even though it is so easily demonstrated that the US government does not care a whit about human rights and democracy anywhere on the globe, even here, we all have to bow before that icon.
What are Castro’s crimes? Who knows, really. We know he “stole” from wealthy people, and that’s enough for a death sentence. But as to crimes against humanity, against his own people, there is no standard of proof or evidence. The empire says he is evil, so that is the end of the story. He’s evil. Angolans don’t think so – Castro sent troops there to support their revolution against US-backed invasions by South Africa and Zaire in 1975. Venezuelans don’t think so – Castro has sent thousands of doctors to care for that country’s impoverished population in exchange for oil – in fact, Cuba has sent doctors all over the globe in every disaster, and even offered to send help to the US in 2005 as Katrina ravaged New Orleans.
Here’s how it works: The US exports weaponry, runs secret torture prisons, arms terrorists and invades and bombs countries all over the globe, evidence that its intentions are good. Cuba sends doctors everywhere, evidence of evil intentions. Do you have your mind right?
Team President David Samson contacted Guillen about his comments. The team issued the following statement: “We are aware of the article. There is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro. He is a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today.”
In an all-encompassing rant, the White Sox manager slammed MLB for paying too much attention to his comments to the media and his criticism of umpires and not enough to his work trying to keep young Latino ballplayers from taking performance-enhancing drugs.
"I'm the only one to teach the Latinos about not to use," he told reporters Sunday. "I'm the only one and Major League Baseball doesn't [care]. All they care about -- how many times I argue with the umpires, what I say to the media. But I'm the only one in baseball to come up to the Latino kids and say not to use this and I don't get any credit for that.
"They look at you and they say, 'Good for you Ozzie,'" he said. "Ozzie said it, don't worry about it. If somebody else said it they would be playing that [stuff] every day on the jumbotron. ... I'm the only one that came up with that idea. I did it for the Latino kids. ... I want to help those kids."
Guillen, a native of Venezuela, decried the pressure on Latino players -- most of whom are younger than Americans who are drafted, come from poor backgrounds and are getting advice from middlemen who arrange deals with big-league clubs -- to use PEDs.
"It's somebody behind the scene making money out of those kids and telling them to take something they're not supposed to," he said. "If you tell me, you take this ... you're going to be Vladimir Guerrero, you're going to be Miguel Cabrera, you're going to be this guy ... I'll do it. Because I have seven brothers that sleep in the same room. I have to take care of my mother, my dad. ... Out of this I'm going to make money to make them better."Guillen also expressed his frustration with the way Latino players are treated relative to those from other countries, recalling a trip to visit his son, Oney, in Single-A a few years back and the discovery of a translator for a Korean prospect.
"Very bad. I say, why do we have Japanese interpreters and we don't have a Spanish one? I always say that. Why do they have that privilege and we don't?" Guillen said. "Don't take this wrong, but they take advantage of us. We bring a Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid ... go to the minor leagues, good luck. Good luck. And it's always going to be like that. It's never going to change. But that's the way it is.
"And we had 17 Latinos and you know who the interpreter was? Oney. Why is that? Because we have Latino coaches? Because here he is? Why? I don't have the answer," Guillen said. "We're in the United States, we don't have to bring any coaches that speak Spanish to help anybody. You choose to come to this country and you better speak English.
"It's just not the White Sox, it's baseball," he added. "We have a pitching coach that is Latino, but the pitching coach can't talk about hitting with a Latino guy and that's the way it is and we have to overcome all those [obstacles]. You know why? Because we're hungry, we grow up the right way, we come here to compete."
Guillen may face some discipline from Major League Baseball -- he'll certainly get a slap on the wrist, at least -- and many will dismiss his comments because he is so outspoken and such a lightning rod.But this isn't your typical Ozzie-being-Ozzie tirade. He's trying to bring to light a dark underside -- underclass, some would say -- of the baseball world.
Latino players possess a rapidly growing share of the population playing professional baseball in America. They become pros at a younger age. There is tremendous pressure on them to succeed.
A healthy portion of that pressure is generated because they aren't given any real fallback option -- any skills that aren't baseball-related -- if they aren't among the miniscule fraction of players that actually makes it to the major leagues.
The plan may sound crazy, but say this for the Marlins: They've become harder to ignore.
Their latest offseason move was approved Thursday, when they acquired Zambrano from the Chicago Cubs for underachieving right-hander Chris Volstad. The Marlins believe Zambrano's career can be resuscitated by pairing him with fellow Venezuelan and good friend Guillen, the team's new manager."Ozzie has a long and close relationship with Carlos," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "We went with Ozzie on this one. The bottom line was Ozzie just really, really felt confident about this deal."
In Chicago, Zambrano was a three-time All-Star, but he also feuded with teammates, management and umpires. The final straw came Aug. 12, when he was ejected from a game, cleaned out his locker and was suspended without pay.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein "realized Zambrano could never regain 'trust' in the clubhouse after his August walkout left players and management feeling "burned" again."
Epstein polled a number of players to get their take on Zambrano.
"I was skeptical," he said, adding "Every player I talked to articulated to me that Carlos really violated their trust. When you're talking about physical altercations with players repeatedly, when you're talking about physically walking out on the team, it's very hard to then have that player come back into the clubhouse and be trusted. In order to be a good teammate, there has to be a certain degree of trust and accountability."
In Miami, Beinfest hopes for the best but will be braced for a repeat.
"It would hard for me to say everything is going to be perfect and incident-free, given the guy's history," Beinfest said. "It may happen that he has a blowup or two. But Ozzie is very confident he can help him."
Those meetings on the mound should be entertaining. While managing the Chicago White Sox, Guillen underwent sensitivity training. On the north side of town, Zambrano attended anger management sessions. In 2010, Zambrano had a verbal altercation with then-teammate Derrek Lee, then dined that night with Guillen.
As part of the trade, the Marlins will pay $2.55 million of Zambrano's $18 million salary this year. The Cubs are responsible for the rest.
Volstad has a career record of 32-39 with a 4.59 ERA in 11 big league seasons. He was originally the Marlins' first-round pick in 2005.
"We've all been a little bit baffled by some of Chris' inconsistencies," Beinfest said.
If the Marlins can get Zambrano to settle down, the deal might be a steal. He went only 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA last year, but he's just 30 and could benefit from the change in scenery. His career record is 125-81, all with the Cubs from 2001 to 2011, and three times he finished in the top five in NL Cy Young balloting.
Beinfest said Zambrano lost a few miles per hour off his fastball last season, but Marlins scouts were impressed when they watched the right-hander pitch in winter ball in Venezuela.
"We're confident his competitiveness and experience will help carry him if the stuff is down a little bit," Beinfest said.
Zambrano joins a rotation that also includes left-hander Mark Buehrle, former NL ERA champion Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez.
Johnson, whose 2011 season was curtailed by right shoulder inflammation, is expected to begin throwing off a mound this mouth.
Buehrle was one of three All-Star acquired during a December spending spree that significantly upgraded the perennially overlooked Marlins. They also signed shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell.
"Our expectations are high," Beinfest said. "We want to play in October, and we think we have the ballclub to do it. The pieces we've added have really transformed this team."
The Marlins might not be done shopping. Beinfest said they remain interested in outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a 25-year-old Cuban defector who has yet to be granted free-agent status.
Zambrano waived his no-trade provision along with a conditional $19.25 million player option for 2013 that could have been exercised only if he finished among the top four in this year's Cy Young Award voting. As part of the trade, he gets a $100,000 bonus added to his salary this year if he wins comeback player of the year. The Marlins would be responsible for the bonus.
In addition, the players' association and Major League Baseball settled a grievance filed after the Cubs placed Zambrano on the disqualified list for 30 days without pay in August. Instead of losing $2,946,429, Zambrano will lose six days pay, or $589,286, which gains him an additional $2,357,143.
Zambrano cleaned out his locker and talked about retiring after giving up five homers and being ejected during a loss to Atlanta on Aug. 12. His ejection followed two inside pitches to Chipper Jones.