Best Political Miscalculation (2012)

Ozzie Hearts Fidel

For years, Ozzie Guillen has gotten away with saying drivel simply because he reminds everyone of their crazy uncle who made everyone laugh until he drank himself to death in his trailer. He has called journalists homophobic names, labeled Sean Penn a Chávez-loving loser, and even dubbed himself the MLB version of Charlie Sheen, "minus the drugs and the prostitutes." But when Guillen took over as manager of the Miami Marlins this winter, he seriously overestimated the tolerance of his team's target audience: baseball-loving Cuban-Americans. Just a few days after opening day, when the Marlins were supposed to be basking in baseball glory, Time magazine published an interview in which 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, yet that motherf***er is still there." The fallout was quicker and nastier than Guillen's barbed tongue. Hundreds of mostly Cuban protesters swarmed the Marlins' brand-new stadium in Little Havana. Sponsors threatened to boycott. Guillen promptly apologized, but the ball club suspended him for five games anyway. The controversy has soured what promised to be a sweet relationship between our bizarre city and its boisterous new manager. Polls from late April showed that only 7 percent of Floridians liked Guillen, putting him slightly ahead of Fidel Castro himself (4 percent). A recent winning streak, however, has lifted the loudmouthed manager's likability once again — at least until the next time he endorses El Comandante.


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