Yesterday, Ozzie Guillen backtracked quicker than Emilio Bonifacio evading a pickoff after Time magazine quoted him admitting he kinda respects Fidel Castro for not falling for the CIA's best exploding cigar tricks. Guillen now says he didn't mean to come off as a Fidelista, telling the Miami Herald that in fact he's "against everything 100 percent ... the way this man (has been) treating people."
That mea culpa isn't enough for Vigilia Mambisa, Little Havana's most theatrical anti-Castro group. They announced this morning they're going to mount a protest outside Marlins Park on Tuesday. Aren't you glad it's baseball season, Miami?
Ozzie's first real firestorm of the season -- and three games in has to be a record, even for him -- blew up on Saturday when Time published this quote from the skipper about this feelings on Fidel:
"I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? Many people have tried to kill Fidel Castro in the last 60 years, yet that [SOB] is still there."
Guillen seems to be grasping at a ham-handed joke about Fidel's longevity, but still -- for a guy who's lived in Miami for years, he should know better. (Though, to be fair, he's apparently spent most of those years getting drunk alone in hotel bars.)
The Marlins, meanwhile, reacted as if their manager had just announced he was joining the neo-Nazi raids in Sanford. They quickly issued a statement clarifying that, in fact, Miami's baseball club thinks Fidel is really a big jerk.
The Venezuelan manager -- who's already had to fend off accusations that he supports Hugo Chavez -- then apologized to the Herald's beat writers "if (he) hurt someone's feelings."
Now Vigilia Mambisa is jumping into the fray. The group, if you're not acquainted, made a name for themselves by staging rowdy pro-Bush protests during the 2000 presidential recounts.
Their leader, Miguel Saavedra, tells NBC Miami he's organizing a caravan of cars to encircle the new Marlins Park on Tuesday and is calling for a boycott of the team until Guillen is fired.
Yes, this is all absurd. But it's also so, so, so predictable. If the Marlins are surprised to see Guillen igniting a protest in front of their gleaming new ballpark, their only real shock should be just how quickly he's managed to stick his foot in his mouth.
Along with pretty consistently winning ballgames, this is what Ozzie does.
Update: Guillen tells the Herald he's "guilty, sad and embarrassed" and will apologize yet again at a press conference this afternoon. Here's what he had to say:
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"I want the people there. I feel embarrassed. I feel guilty not because I'm not lying, but because this thing hasn't let me sleep for three days. Only my wife knows how bad it's been last few days. I feel very guilty, sad and embarrassed. Anyone who wants to be there, feel free. I want to be there by myself and I want the Cuban people to understand what I'm going to say because everything I'm going to say is true ... I have to face it. I have to make people feel good about themselves. I will say what I said a couple of days ago. I don't want to just make a statement and that's it because I think when you do that, that's a bunch of crap ... I feel sad because I know I hurt a lot of people. I'm Latino. I live in Miami. I have a lot of friends, and players [that are Cuban]. They know who I am. They know how I feel."