Guillen's gaffe sparks comment across U.S.

Guillen's gaffe sparks comment across U.S.

Guillen's gaffe sparks comment across U.S.
As the news of Ozzie Guillen's five-game suspension for his controversial comments regarding Cuba's Fidel Castro spread, and Guillen apologized to both the Marlins and the Latin American community on Tuesday, baseball fans and community leaders across the country shared their opinions on the matter.

The oft-outspoken Marlins manager made waves just days into his regular-season tenure with Miami, quoted in Time magazine as saying he "loved" the Cuban leader.

"I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen was quoted in the piece. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here."

The article appeared online on Friday and has created a stir ever since. Tuesday's events sparked the conversation even more.

"It comes at the worst possible time for the Marlins," Patrick Walsh, a sports management professor who formerly taught at the University of Miami, told the Miami Herald. "In Miami, it's the worst possible thing he could have said. People in sports are forgiving, but this a pretty damning statement for the fan base."

The Herald reported that a number of prominent community activists and political figures -- including Miami-Dade Commission chairman Joe Martinez, who told the paper he wants Guillen to resign -- were upset about the comments.

"It's so outrageous, they have to start by buying a new brain for Guillen, because every time he opens his mouth, he offends somebody," said Ninoska Pérez Castellón, an activist and radio host with Radio Mambí, according to the Herald.

Guillen was contrite during Tuesday's news conference at Marlins Park, speaking in both Spanish and English for about 45 minutes.

"I hurt a lot of people's feelings, a lot of victims," Guillen said. "I've apologized twice, and I meant it. ... I say a lot of things and I never apologize. But now I have to, because I did the wrong thing. I'm behind the Cuban community. ... How am I going to make it better? ... I'm going to show the community that I support them 100 percent."

Rickie Ricardo, the Phillies' Spanish radio announcer, who is of Cuban descent, told the Herald that nothing on the field could hurt Guillen's perception more than his words.

"That's a subject that's untouchable," Ricardo said. "This team could go 0-50 and it wouldn't hurt the Cuban community as much as him saying something like that."

Royals catcher Brayan Pena, who defected from Cuba in 2000, thought Guillen appeared sincere, but that Miami's Cuban community would be slow to forgive him.

"I really saw somebody that was very regretful, somebody that was in a lot of pain, somebody who knew he'd caused him and his family and a lot of people a lot of pain," Pena said. "And somebody who really believed that he can change, that he learned from his mistake ... This is America. Everybody deserves a second chance."

The situation also spread into popular culture.

Musician Tom Morello (@tmorello) tweeted, "Woah! Ozzie Guillen suspended 5 games, then groveling retraction for Castro comments. 1st Amendment: adios!"

College basketball analyst and Florida resident Dick Vitale, a vocal Tampa Bay Rays fan, stood on the other side of the fence.

"Usually it is passed over that it is just Ozzie being Ozzie - Not this time - He better do SOME SERIOUS APOLOGIZING!" Vitale tweeted from @DickieV.

Even back in Chicago, where Guillen managed for eight years and won a World Series before leaving for Miami this winter, people were commenting.

Former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, from @TheBigHurt_35: "After spending years of my life with Ozzie Guillen I can honestly say he has never been this apologetic."

Then: "I know he is really hurting inside for what he said. If you really know him this was not his intentions at all."

Current White Sox players also had thoughts on the matter. Alexei Ramirez, a native of Cuba who played four seasons under Guillen, does not share the opinion that was conveyed in the article, saying his former manager should be forgiven.

"It's one of those [things] that there are some people who like Castro and some people who don't," Ramirez said through translator and White Sox director of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "In Miami, it's definitely of a different thought frame.

"Apologizing is definitely a big first step. Again, I feel that everyone has their opinion, but I also feel that people should be forgiven. So if he's going to apologize, then I feel that hopefully it will be accepted. I would just say whatever his thoughts, whatever his comments, those are Ozzie's comments. That's more on him."

The issue, of course, hits closer to home in Miami. Photos on the Herald's website on Tuesday showed protestors outside Marlins Park demanding Guillen be fired. Some held signs that voiced displeasure with the Marlins as a whole, whereas others lashed out at Guillen specifically.

Marlins catcher John Buck, the team's union representative, said at the team's hotel in Philadelphia that the incident has clearly hit the vibrant manager hard.

"You can see how it has affected him the last couple of days, how sincere he really is," Buck said. "You don't get Ozzie sincerely apologizing about anything. To see him affected this greatly and how bad it has hurt him, for him to say one thing and have it kind of get misinterpreted, that's the part you feel for him. You see how hard it is on him."

Pena offered a perspective that illustrates why the situation has drawn so much widespread attention.

"This is a little bit bigger than baseball," Pena said. "It touches people's feelings and people's lives and it was a hard comment from him, but I don't like to talk about [the suspension], because I see the picture bigger than that."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.‬ This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.