Baseball, Cigars, and Some Crazy

Ozzie Guillen can’t stay off Sportscenter. His broken English that you can barely understand always seems to mutter something controversial that will get him suspended but we can all have a good laugh at. You can’t speak to any Cuban for less than four minutes (a) without bringing up Fidel Castro. Both have had their fair share of controversies, although the magnitude of those cannot be compared, there are some similarities and lessons that can be learned.

Over the existence of the FBGM Coaches blog, every sport has been written about. Of course basketball, because this was supposed to be a blog based on coaching basketball. Then you have soccer (Pink), and mentions of volleyball, cross country (Prefontaine), football (the kid that can’t be tackled, weightlifting (Shoutout to Mr. Stubbs, can’t leave you out) and other sports every now and then. Today, I am going to be writing about baseball, but not because for the sake of it being the national pastime or to put my degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies to good use. I’ll try to put the national pastime into a perspective that dates back a few hundred years and to educate a few minds about Cuban history.

Like football’s off-season, the only way baseball gets the lead on Sportscenter is if it makes the news for the entirely wrong reasons. Opening Day came and went, and nobody seemed to give it much thought including myself. We’re in the middle of the most unpredictable NBA season yet (1), and college basketball just concluded. If that’s not enough, you have Spring football with live look-ins into Bobby Petrino’s home office to see which broad is bent over giving him oral(2).

So last Thursday, conveniently after the Marlins get dominated in their home opener of their brand new ballpark (3), there was a report that said Ozzie Guillen made comments to TIME Magazine about how he “admired” Fidel Castro. ” I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still here.”

My first thought upon hearing this: I know what he meant to say, but I’m not sure he expressed it the right way. Then came the firestorm. The protests, the hoopla, the ESPN drama. But throughout all the discussions and articles I have never heard anyone focus on the intricacies of what may have prompted him to say what he said. This whole dilemma exemplifies why many people are confused about Cuba in general.

To begin,the absence of democracy in Cuba dates back WAY BEFORE CASTRO. Before Castro came Fulgencio Batista (4), who revoked the constitution and political liberties in 1940. He committed many of the same atrocities and controlled with an iron fist that would rival those of Trujillo, Stalin and Mao Dezong.  So why is Batista not mentioned in the same disdainful breath as Fidel? Because the Americans were down with Batista. The mafia controlled many of the enterprises that made Cuba profitable such as the hotels, gambling halls and nightclubs. Fidel? Well let’s just say he didn’t dance to the same boogie. Why? Let’s go back in the history books.

In 1823, the Monroe Doctrine was established. The treaty itself claims that any attempts by European nations to colonize nations in the Western Hemisphere would be intervened by the U.S. aggresively. Between the lines, it established the United States was the hegemonic power in the Western Hemisphere.

When Castro gained control of Cuba in 1959, it was seen as a invasion by an upstart radical trying to start a “civilian government (5),” which appealed to the majority of it’s population (6) and immediately tackled it’s corruption problem that had plagued it under Batista. It wasn’t until the next year in 1960, when Castro made his communist revelation evident (7) by letting the Soviets harbor missiles which snowballed into multiple assassination attempts by the U.S. (8) that lead to the economic blockade and embargo that still exists until this day (9).

So now that the history lesson (albeit brief) is behind us, here is a synopsis of Ozzie’s managing career. In 2004, he took over a White Sox ballclub that had not won an AL Pennant since 1959, a Word Series since 1917 and three divisional titles in the last 50 years (10). In 2005, the White Sox won their first World Series title in 88 years and becoming the first Hispanic manager to win a World Series title. They would make the playoffs under him in 2008. Despite his success as manager, he was always on thin ice because of his knack for controversy or his contentious relationship with GM Kenny Williams and Owner Jerry Reinsdorf. His main issue was dealing with authority.

For example, just look at this clip: (11)

or this one:

The one thing Ozzie and Fidel is they have no regard for authority. This clip exemplifies Ozzie’s lack for authority:

Finally in 2011, the White Sox got fed up with Ozzie and decided to not bring him back for 2012. Two days later the Miami Marlins contracted him to be their next manager.

While Fidel seemingly had no regard for authority (meaning the U.S as imperialists), he took it a step further. He defied and made a mockery of it, with the most memorable event being the Mariel Boatlift (12)(13) in 1980. He spent two long years staving off various assassination attempts by the U.S. after they became of his Marxist intentions. Finally after teaming with the Soviets in 1962 and briefly harboring missiles on the island (14), JFK agreed to end the Cuban Missile Crisis by not launching any more invasions against Castro. It was (and still is) one of the biggest victories against American imperialists in the last 200 years. Fidel Castro, one brash, communist, Marxist revolutionary scored a victory over the World’s superpower.

In 2005, Ozzie lead the one of the most brash and radical fan bases to baseball ecstasy as the White Sox defeated the Astros to win the teams first World Series since 1917. It was seemingly the last time Guillen had any sort of headlines for what happened on the field.

I’m not going to speculate as to what Ozzie meant to say or did not say. Everything I have read and listened to only portrays as to how radical and offensive the comments were. I beg to differ. These men are very well alike in their leadership ideals and doing things their way, and having some degree of success at it. They say those who don’t know history, are bound to repeat it. We know this isn’t the last time either of these two will make the headlines.


a. I was at a hotdog stand, and I counted 3:47 before the Cuban hotdog vendor mentioned Castro.
1. Mostly basketball, part TMZ.
2. Which is apparently the only thing he doesn’t do through texting, receive oral. That was for you JO, I’m 3/3 on blowjob references in my posts.
3. Very nice by the way, although it can’t really be considered a baseball stadium.
4. 1933 to be exact, although he wasn’t considered the president. But let’s face it, everyone knew who the HMFIC was. If you don’t know what that is, go to
5. If you told the average reader on this blog to define a civilian government off of the top of their head, they would mention democracy, am I wrong?
6. Peasants, as it is with many third world countries.
7. For those of you wondering where I am going with this: This is where the comparison with Ozzie begins to shape.
8. Which is what Ozzie was referring to- How can the biggest imperialist in the World not be able to kill a radical communist leader off of its shores?
9. For what reason I have no idea. 11 presidents and 50 years later the U.S foreign policy against Cuba since the Embrago has not made much sense. They should have lifted it after the end of the Cold War.
10. Since the AL Central was established after the 94 strike, the Indians and Twins had dominated the division.
11. For the record, this is worse than the Castro comments. It’s not the end of the World for an ignorant person to call Fidel Castro a “great leader,” but it’s not OK under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES to use the name calling Ozzie did.
12. A mass invasion of 125,000 Cubans (mostly prisoners and political enemies) in1980 due to a sharp decline in the Cuban economy. Could you imagine if Obama could send 2-3 million Americans overseas so they could find jobs??
13. If it wasn’t for the Boatlift, I wonder if Tony Montana would be Peruvian or Mexican?
14. Otherwise known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Watch the movie Thirteen Days, great movie.

2 thoughts on “Baseball, Cigars, and Some Crazy

  1. This post was written by Juan Bernal. I, the actual arrogantone, would add the following. Guillen, as a controversial figure was almost destined to make this type of remark. I believe Guillen sees Castro as a maverick surviver, much akin to how he sees himself. Guillen has always been outspoken, and made enemies for that reason. He sees himself as an island in baseball. Yet, unlike so many managers, or coaches in any professional sport, Guillen has achieved a measure of longevity where his enemies would favor his demise. The very use of Castro is not unsusual given his almost ingrained call for attention. I believe he went with Castro as an adoption of his maverick survivalism, not an endoresement of his politics or methods of maintainence.

  2. Great stuff DJ.

    Just have a follow-up question: I was watching the video of the protests the other day, and it seemed to me like there were only a handful of protesters who looked like they were younger than 50 (or born right around Castro revolution). Is the disdain toward Castro just a generational thing among Cubans here, as in people our age don’t really get worked up over him as their parents and grandparents do?

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