So, Ozzie Guillen says something stupid about Fidel Castro and gets suspended by his team for five days. And we’re all supposed to be … satisfied? Outraged? Non-plussed?
The Marlins reaction was as predictable as Guillen saying something stupid to start with. This whole story has been a cliffhanger without a “cliff” or a “hang.” Anyone who has followed sports or politics or, well, anything in the last 20 years already knows the script: talk; apologize; boycott; apologize again; suspend or fire or rehab, or all three.
This isn’t a sports thing, obviously. This is the way these sort of things are dealt with today. They weren’t handled this way 30 years ago, but to be fair, 30 years ago, you could say a lot of things and people wouldn’t find out. As soon as we invented message boards and call-in sports shows and 24-hour sports news networks and Twitter, it was all over. The beast has helped create a billion dollar industry, but it needs to be fed. Ozzie is its latest meal.
We are conditioned to be outraged because that is what the talking TV box has told us we are supposed to be. It’s what that dude wrote on that site we go to occasionally. It’s what Bob from Sarasota said on the “Icky and the Bean” radio show. Every word must have a consequence, because every word has a meaning and an intended target. Every person that speaks those words are treated equally, no matter they be governor or former mediocre shortstop.
But here’s a small sprinkle of reality that will (certainly) be ineffectual in dousing the roaring fire of our latest National Controversy: Ozzie Guillen is a dope. He’s the manager of a freaking baseball team! Let’s all take a step back and realize what that means before we lose our shit, totally.
I love baseball, and I think it can be a complicated game with lots of nuances, but the entire world knows that, as far as coaches of big league sports go — in terms of brain-power needed — it’s football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, water polo, diving, boxing, lacrosse, water polo, polo, horse racing, figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics, bowling, dog-sled racing, beer pong, spelling bee, checkers, Angry Birds, softball (given the alcohol consumption), then baseball.
The greatest manager in the history of baseball movies is Pop Fisher from The Natural — and HE WAS TOO STUPID TO PLAY ROY HOBBS FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE MOVIE!?! Once you fill out the lineup in the afternoon, you’ve “managed” 85 percent of your workload. You know who makes the tough calls? The third base coach, who has to decide — in a matter of seconds — if Prince Fielder’s fat ass can make it to home before the relay throw. The pitching coach also has it tough. He’s the one who says, “Skip, I don’t think he has it today.” Then the manager pulls that pitcher and puts in the guy whose job it is to replace the starter. And when that guy can’t pitch anymore, he moves on to the next guy whose job it is to replace that guy. And when the fast guy gets on first base, the manager tells him to steal. And when the slow guy gets on first base, the manager tells him not to steal. And when the guy who can’t hit is up to bat with less than two outs and a runner on first, the manager tells him to bunt. And when the guy who CAN hit is up to bat — in almost any situation — the manager tells him to swing really hard and try to hit the ball far. Master those simple instructions and you, too, can be a manager of a baseball team!
You know what a manager is never, ever, ever asked to do? Comment on communist dictators. That literally NEVER comes up. Ever.
So when Ozzie Guillen was asked a question from Time magazine (and I’m assuming he was actually asked a question, but then again, Guillen is so bat-shit crazy, he might have just said, “Hey, let me tell you what I think about Fidel Castro”) he — to the surprise of no one except the truly easy to surprise — said something stupid: “I love Fidel Castro.”
This is the same guy who has said dumb things about gay people and Asians and sportswriters, to name just three. Now add “offending almost every Cuban American in the country” to his list.
And they’re allowed to be offended. The Marlins — who need to sell seats to their shiny new ballpark, and who just happened to live in a city that is full of Cubans — should suspend/fire/silence Guillen, if they want.
But let’s not be shocked. It’s not surprising that a baseball manager does not know what has been happening in Cuba the last 40 years. He’s not a politician. He’s not a businessman who runs a Fortune 500 company. He’s not an influential thinker or writer or talker. He’s not a decision maker or a policy maker or an opinion maker. He’s the manager of the fucking Miami Marlins, the second best team in Florida, which is the 47th best “baseball state.” Let’s not lose perspective.
It’s reminiscent of how we were all supposed to be outraged that the New Orleans Saints were willing to pay their defensive players to try and hurt the opposing team’s offensive stars. Or how we were supposed to be shocked that baseball players would shoot themselves up with illegal drugs “just” to make an extra $100 million. Or how we were supposed to boycott college football because poor kids would have the nerve to take money from oily boosters.
A famous golfer and one of the world’s most recognizable stars is caught having sex with someone(s) other than his wife? No! A block-headed NHL goalie goes on a Tea Party-fueled rant against the president? Outrage! The guy who won seven consecutive Tours of France AFTER he almost died from cancer might have had artificial help? Say it ain’t so!
Maybe I am getting cynical in my 30s, but I am not shocked or surprised about anything. I am certainly not outraged anymore, because it is all so predictable. It doesn’t mean I don’t love sports, or admire athletes, or root for the underdog, or get moved by sacrifice and dedication, or stand in awe when another human does something I did not think physically possible.
I am still a fan, because the actual game is the part of sports that IS unpredictable. That athletes or coaches or owners or refs or sportscasters or league presidents can be dumb, callous, offensive, narrow-minded, petty and greedy makes them no more or less different than the rest of us.
Look, in 1994, a former 2,000-yard rusher, star of The Naked Gun and NFL sideline reporter, famous TV pitchman, and (seemingly) all-around good guy was accused of brutally killing his ex-wife and another guy. I mean, after OJ happens, nothing should surprise you again. Ever.
Ozzie Guillen is not important enough for me to be outraged. He’s just another loud-mouth jerk. I am not suggesting we should ignore the loud mouths, but I am saying we should never elevate them to the point where they can let us down.