Ozzie Guillen foolishly praised Fidel Castro, which shocks me. I figured he would foolishly praise Charles Manson. Or maybe Mussolini. Stalin? Hey, the season is young.
Guillen said he loves Castro and respects him for staying in power so long. At a press conference in Miami on Tuesday, Guillen said he is genuinely sorry, and let me say up front: I am sure he is sorry, and I am even more sure that he is genuine. Saying nice things about Castro is monumentally stupid. It is, literally, like telling somebody "I love the man who tortured your parents, and I respect him for hiding from the cops all these years." It is like saying that to thousands of people in your city.
"I love Fidel Castro" is such an awful thing to say that Guillen could not possibly have meant it. And I'm sure he didn't mean it the way it sounds. His next sentence was "A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that (expletive) is still here." In other words: He does not love Castro's policies or tactics. He is amazed at his resilience.
Now that we realize that, I think we can agree ... it was still a monumentally stupid thing to say.
The Marlins suspended Ozzie for five games, which means he has a week to think about stuff besides baseball. I'm just not sure that will solve his problems.
But my question is not for Guillen. It is for the Marlins:
Who did you think you were hiring?
Ozzie Guillen could create a controversy if he were alone in a forest. I mean, Ozzie Guillen was voted Most Likely To Say Something Inappropriate About Fidel Castro in high school. The Marlins did not just get what they deserved. They got what they hired. They did not hire Guillen because he is a great manager. (In some ways, he is; in some ways, not so much.) They hired him for his mouth. They hired him to sell tickets, to create interest, to fill their new modern-art ballpark.
I know the Marlins were cheap the past few years, but I assumed they paid for a decent Internet connection. This is who Ozzie Guillen is. He says crazy things ALL THE TIME. If you sit in the man's office for 15 minutes, you are guaranteed to hear at least one inappropriate comment and laugh at least three times.
Guillen is the guy who called columnist Jay Mariotti a homophobic slur and called fellow Venezuelan Magglio Ordonez, his former White Sox star, "a piece of (expletive)." When he tried to take the high road in a dispute with former closer Bobby Jenks, he said "I wish I was mad about it because I will rip his throat [out]." Even his no-comments are controversial.
When you hire Ozzie Guillen, you get wacky and offensive statements. This is a fact of life. Some more facts of life: When you hire Larry Brown, you accept that he will leave in a squirmy way. When you sign Terrell Owens, you get his insecurities along with his athleticism. When you marry Larry King, you get divorced.
And when you hire Bobby Petrino, you get something other than the truth. This is why the nation is laughing at the University of Arkansas right now. The state's flagship university is shocked to discover that its lying-weasel football coach is a lying weasel.
Petrino's history of lying is well-documented, but for those who have not been paying attention, which may include Arkansas administrators, here is a summary: When Petrino coached Louisville, he lied repeatedly about his interest in other jobs (some of which he interviewed for). He left for the Atlanta Falcons, then left that job before a season ended, one of the few absolute no-nos in a sometimes ruthless profession.
I'm no genius. I have made that very clear over the years, usually by accident. And I had no idea that Bobby Petrino may have been sleeping with a young Arkansas fundraiser named Jessica Dorrell. Nor do I really care.
But if were playing a game, and you asked me to guess which major-college coach hired his mistress to work with his football program, got in a motorcycle accident with her on board, then lied to his bosses about the relationship, I could have guessed "Bobby Petrino" faster than it takes him to print out his resume, and I probably could have gone for the bonus points and guessed the woman was a blonde.
Petrino has acknowledged a previous "inappropriate" relationship with that woman, Miss Dorrell. I don't know if Petrino is a serial cheater, but he is a perpetual liar, which qualifies him to be a serial cheater.
Arkansas should not be surprised that Petrino lied to his bosses, because he has lied to pretty much all of his previous bosses, without consequences. Why would he stop when he got to Fayetteville? Lying has always been a good career move for him.
Now Arkansas must choose between a coach who wins big and the university's integrity. But the school made that decision once already, when it hired Petrino.
I am sure Guillen is truly sorry. I imagine Petrino will at least say he is sorry. But as an old football coach once said: They are who we thought they are. If their bosses are surprised, they must not be paying attention.