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updated: 4/10/2012 7:09 PM

Guillen's suspension not long enough

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  • Protestors hold signs outside Marlins Stadium in Miami, where Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was speaking at a news conference on Tuesday. Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.

      Protestors hold signs outside Marlins Stadium in Miami, where Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was speaking at a news conference on Tuesday. Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.
    Associated Press

  • Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.

      Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.
    Associated Press

  • Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.

      Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.
    Associated Press

 
 

Many will disagree, but it says here that a little political correctness never hurt anybody.

Maybe Ozzie Guillen will practice it as part of his impending growth spurt.

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One of Guillen's persistent mantras during eight years as White Sox manager was that he wasn't going to change who and what he is.

That was a bit disturbing because, well, don't we all have to change, or at least try to mature into all we should be in whatever time we have left in this life?

Guillen is an intelligent guy for as little formal education as he had, which maybe is why he tried to show off how smart he is. It would be a good idea now for him to begin thinking before talking, to realize a "no comment" can be the better part of valor, to comprehend the consequences of words on others.

The more one talks the more potential to say something dumb. Take me. I write four columns a week. Reader feedback tells me many of them are stupid. Imagine if I wrote five a week.

Anyway, back to Guillen. He appears uncharacteristically contrite over having said, "I love Fidel Castro." As the new manager of the Miami Marlins, that remark was the equivalent of if he said on the South Side of Chicago during his first season as Sox' manager, "I love the KKK."

I don't believe at all that Guillen meant he approved of the damage Castro has done to the Cuban people the past 50 years. But he does seem to realize, perhaps for the first time, that words can inflict pain, that he offended Cuban Americans and that an apology was in order Tuesday at a news conference in Miami.

Guillen did the right thing; Marlins ownership didn't.

Some Cuban Americans called for Guillen to be fired and instead he was suspended for five games. Somewhere in between would be more appropriate, like a month suspension. Five games aren't enough time to accomplish much healing.

Whatever Guillen's intent and the misinterpretation of his words were, enough of a stir resulted that stretching a ban into May would be justified. Cuban Americans, politicians and the media would have enough time to step back, digest developments and ponder how to move forward.

Guillen could do the same. While not consumed by managerial responsibilities, he could take the first steps toward being new and improved.

Over the next month, Guillen could meet with Cuban Americans in smaller groups than a massive, soul-spilling news conference and continue to explain himself. He also could sit down with family and friends and determine how to work with the community to improve relations and communication among all groups in South Florida.

Change is worthwhile only if it translates into progress. If Guillen really is changing, which I think he is despite his history, he can emerge from this troubling episode as a force for understanding.

If that sounds corny or Pollyannaish, so be it, because it would be refreshing to learn from this most recent controversy before moving on to the next one.

A five-day suspension, a monthlong suspension, even a firing no length of time would matter if some good didn't come of it for all parties involved, for Ozzie Guillen and Cuban Americans and even others around the country.

Heck, political correctness might even stop being a couple dirty words.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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