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MLB is looking into Ozzie’s comments? How intellectually inconsistent of them.

Apr 10, 2012, 9:25 AM EDT

According to Buster Olney, Major League Baseball is now “reviewing the Ozzie Guillen situation.”  Hurm.

While I disagree with it all, I at least understand where the local outrage in Miami is coming from. While I would hope that it all blows over, I get that whatever happens it will be the local dynamics — put in motion by the community, the local politicians and the Miami Marlins brass — that are going to determine how it all plays out.

But MLB’s official involvement is another thing altogether and should be viewed even more skeptically in this instance. No, not because it has no business in policing players’ and managers’ speech — it has done that in the past, most notably in the John Rocker case — but because it doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to being outraged at pro-Castro sentiment.

Remember when Peter Angelos did this?

source: AP

That was from back in 1999, when the Orioles went down to Havana and played the Cuban national team in an exhibition. A move which did far more to bolster and support Fidel Castro than anything Ozzie Guillen said. This is especially true when, later, Angelos went on record saying that he would never sign a Cuban refugee ballplayer. Rather than simply admire Castro’s ability to not be assassinated, Angelos took it upon himself to enforce a key part of Fidel Castro’s policy and propaganda apparatus on our very shores.

At the time — and to this day, I presume — the Cuban-American community was outraged at Angelos and MLB for making this trip. The “I won’t sign Cuban ballpayers” thing led to even more anger.  Yet Major League Baseball didn’t feel the need to “review the Peter Angelos situation.”  MLB was part of it.

All of which shows quite clearly that, to MLB, this is about public relations and damage control, not about the substance of what Ozzie Guillen said or the anger felt by people in Miami. If Guillen’s comments — or worse comments by anyone — were ignored, the league wouldn’t care.  If this continues to be a big deal, the league will throw Guillen aside with a quickness.

In response to which many would say “hey, MLB has to protect its brand.”  And in response to which I would say, hey, I wish our institutions — and I consider Major League Baseball an institution — actually stood for someone other than its bottom line an public image on occasion.

  1. nategearhart - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    But on the other hand, money.

    • cur68 - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:44 AM

      Sadly, yes. Lots and lots of filthy $$$$$…

  2. drakosm - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    This is an about face but the Angelos visit was 13 years ago. If all that MLB is interested in is protecting their public image then wouldn’t they have done something to mitigate the anger the last time around? I know that it’s popular to call anyone who changes their opinion on something a flip flopper but shouldn’t intellectual growth something that should be applauded? Maybe MLB is just guilty of intellectual inconsistencies in this case but it would be nice to see more evidence than just the fact that their position is different than it was 13 years ago.

  3. pisano - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Intellectually and Ozzie? that’s like mixing water and oil.

    • Old Gator - Apr 10, 2012 at 9:57 AM

      Water and sodium, really.

  4. bobdira - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    The question I would ask YOU Craig is “what should they do?” If you accept that to Cuban Americans Castro is their equivalent of Hitler and Ozzie, a man in position of authority and celebrity discusses his “admiration” of the man in the most heavily Cuban American city, what should mlb do? There are some options. Ignore it. Not likely and not appropriate. Support it? That’s insane. So they are left with some form of involvement that mitigates the damage done to the Marlins, MLB, Baseball and the MLB brand as well as Ozzie himself. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do whether it’s consistent with the past practices or not.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      ” If you accept that to Cuban Americans Castro is their equivalent of Hitler”

      I find this rather hard to accept, and I would be curious what a Jewish person thought of the equivalence. That aside:

      Why does Major League Baseball have to do anything? The Marlins issued a statement distancing themselves from his statements. MLB could do that too and let it all fall where it may.

      • 4letterman - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:28 AM

        As a latin american, yes Castro is equivalent to Hitler, but at a smaller scale. Verify your facts on what he has done, religious persecution, murdering and so one. He is the major reason, hundreds if not thousands come to the US every year as refugees. I say ask a cuban about the Hitler statement.

      • hittfamily - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:29 AM

        Perhaps he meant Pre WWII anglo Germans, and not their Jewish counterparts. Both are men loved by many inside their country, and feared/hated by dissidents inside and outside of it.

      • bobdira - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM

        That’s a bit naive Craig. I agree that HItler’s impact, expecially to the Jewish people is more widely known and severe on a macro scale, but what Castro has done to the people in Cuba cannot be minimized.

        That aside, MLB has a duty to the Cuban community and the population in general to police its representatives and what they say and do. This isn’t a court of Law man, it’s the public perception of the American pastime and what it will and will not allow.

        Personally I’m a big Ozzie Guillen fan. But I understand the rancor and the response. My hope is that the suspension just levied will suffice and Ozzie can go on being Ozzie.

      • hittfamily - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:38 AM

        I was fishing in the Keys when a call to the coast guard came over the radio. People were floating inside an above ground swimming pool. Things have to be really, really bad to attempt to travel 60 miles of open ocean to escape.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

        I’m not minimizing anything simply by saying that Hitler = Castro is a false equivalency.

        Of course the victim of a crime cannot be blamed for believing that his assailant is the worst thing ever. But those of us who were not victims of that crime, it’s quite possible to draw distinctions between the aggregate evils of Hitler compared to the aggregate evils of Castro.

      • smorris793 - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        As a Jew, yea I have to agree with Craig. I am fairly well-versed in Cuban history and as bad as Castro has been, there is really no rational comparison between the two.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Apr 10, 2012 at 4:18 PM

        Wow. I think that analogy sucks.

        Hitler systematically destroyed the Jewish population. Not through war, but through a machine, built entirely to fund his war state and to turn the Jewish people into, literally, ash and bars of soap.

        No matter how many people the Castros killed, they did not put them in camps to work on the machines that were used to maintain a war that was supposed to lead them to world domination.

        And alongside 6 million Jews were another 4 million Gypsies, gays, Lib’rals, and other folks not deemed Masterly enough to survive.

        And this only touches on the evils of the Nazi machine. Lest we forget about the constant propaganda dished out about the non-Masterly folk, the hate mongering that was aimed towards future generations with mind controlling lies, that was supposed to lead to a complete and utter annihilation.

        To finish my thought as to why Castro is no Hitler, the Nazis, while they disenfrachised the Jews, destroying their villages, synagogues, and livelihoods, kept artifacts of them so that they could show the world, after their domination, the relics of the dead race.

        This all comes out of Hitler’s demented mind and hatred. Let’s get real.

    • paperlions - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

      What should MLB do? Roll their eyes and do nothing, because nothing is required to be done and nothing should be done.

      • bobdira - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:53 AM

        Not in this day and age. Unless you’ve been under a rock for 30 years these statements when they are made are all over the world in minutes and insite millions. It has to be addressed even if the only comment is to say we (mlb) don’t agree.

      • cur68 - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        MLB has a track record of being fine with far more egregious pro-Castro sentiments by a living and current owner of a pro-ball club. Ozzie said he admired Castro’s longevity and is now about to be fed to sharks with MLB complicit in it. Angelos went to Cuba, hugged Castro, played ball with Castro and upheld Castro’s political agenda by publicly declaring he wouldn’t hire Cuban refugee ballplayers. MLB DID NOTHING. This inconsistency does not bother you?

  5. yankeesfanlen - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Consistancy is the hobgoblin of small minds.
    That’s what Bud says when he doesn’t know what to do.

    • spudchukar - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      Somewhere, probably in Mass. RWE is rolling over in his grave.

  6. spudchukar - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Where was MLB’s outrage when Luke Scott inanely questioned the President’s birth certificate, thus claiming the U.S. had an illegitimate Commander-in-Chief. Fortunately, for vapid, Neanderthal types like Scott, America still allows speech to be free, even when that speech is moronic.

    Plus, if baseball were to punish Ozzie for his comments, then he would become some kind of hero to some, and that is much more troubling than anything he will ever say.

    • cur68 - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Well, Luke has pig spears, y’see. Ozzie only got incoherence and swear words. The difference here is sticks and stones vs. words…um…er…I seem to be lost in my own semantics here….er…right, MLB is scared of the pig-spears but not the swear words…right? That explains their 2-step boogie to avoid more egregious stuff and serve up Ozzie on a platter over trivia, right? Ozzie needs to get some spears offa Luke. He’ll be safe then.

  7. hittfamily - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    He is from Venezuela, another communist country. If I moved to another country, I wouldn’t denounce my former government either. I wonder how much authority MLB can actually have over a situation like this. I hate when people say “freedom of speach” in this situation, because that applys to governments, not corporations. However, shouldn’t it also count towards corporations with congressional anti-trust exemptions?

    When someone says something stupid at work, and gets disciplined, they have the choice to find employment elsewhere. Ozzie doesn’t, so for the first time, I think freedom of speach applies to employees of a business.

  8. yankeesgameday - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    A major difference is that the internet and the 24 hour news cycle didn’t exist in 1999 the way it does now. Outrage can now be personal and global all at the same time now

  9. manifunk - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Cool so say something ambiguously positive about Castro you get a 5 game suspension, but get drunk and drive and endanger the lives of those around you and you don’t even get a slap on the wrist.

    Glad the MLB has their priorities straight

    • jimbo1949 - Apr 10, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      Priorities:1) Budweiser, Coors, etc. = Big revenue
      2) Castro = restricted access to Cuban ballplayers

      “I see no hypocrisy,” Bud Lite.

  10. Jonny 5 - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Wow 12 years really took it’s toll on Angelos and Castro.

  11. daisycutter1 - Apr 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    It wasn’t just Angelos. Looks to me like Bud is paying as much attention to this game as he does to most things baseball that don’t involve money.

    http://i.usatoday.net/sports/_photos/2008/02/19/castrox.jpg

  12. boh930 - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Actually, MLB did punish Angelos. They gave him a lifetime ban from the playoffs.

    • DJ MC - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      The sad part is, that would be an easier explanation for most Orioles fans.

  13. largebill - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    By suspending Guillen baseball has taken a silly public relations issue and made it worse as now they’ve set an ill defined precedent. Other employees (players, coaches, GM’s etc) will screw up and Selig will have to explain why their punishment is not in line with Ozzie’s. Some in this thread and elsewhere are already making the comparison between drunk driving (LaRussa BTW works for MLB management now) and this action. A reporter will at some point ask about Angelos’ Castro actions/comments. What can Selig say in response?
    The best course of action for baseball was to say “Wow, Ozzie can say some outrageous stuff. We, of course, disagree with him but it is up to the Marlins ownership as to whether he can still represent their organization.”

  14. southcapitolstreet - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    All Olney says is “MLB is reviewing the Ozzie Guillen situation.” Maybe this is about the “¿tetas o culo?” situation.

  15. winkandthegun - Apr 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    I understand your point, but I guess I would argue the opposite: that the MLB SHOULD have done something about Peter Angelos, much like they did with John Rocker and Marge Schott. I would even argue that Angelos’s actions were worse than Rocker’s, because Rocker was merely pointing out that he disliked various sorts of people (still offensive), while Angelos was openly supporting an oppressive dictator and discriminating against any refuge who opposed him.

    Simply because the MLB dropped the ball in the past does not mean they are precluded from doing so in the future. Selig is authorized to take action “in the best interests of baseball” by the MLB constitution, and imposing a punishment on somebody for openly supporting a dictator who has oppressed a large number fans and/or their families falls into that.

    That being said, I think the punishment should be relatively minor.

  16. thehypercritic - Apr 10, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Baseball DOES stand, inexplicably, for something more than the bottomline sometimes.

    Witness how they attempted to smear one of the game’s few homegrown superstars with PEDs after the agreed upon system exonerated him — heck, they attempted to suspend him before the system even played out. It was absolutely against the league’s financial interests to do so, yet their official response… It sickened me.

    Also not sure how Ozzie gets “looked into” when Luke Scott’s birther comments — not simply unpopular, ugly opinions but outright and malicious lies — didn’t get the treatment from the league.

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