It would be too easy -- and wrong -- to make fun of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen for the storm he created last week with his complimentary remarks in Time Magazine about Fidel Castro
"I love Fidel Castro," is pretty hard to interpret as anything other than flattery for a man reviled by so many in south Florida. The words stung many people in a way that's hard to understand from afar. It's entirely different from some of Ozzie's previous rants, which typically have ranged from irritating to endearing to goofy to stupid when he's talking baseball, often in a stream-of-consciousness manner.
Juan C. Rodriguez covers the Marlins for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. He's also a University of Minnesota alumnus and a Star Tribune summer intern from many years ago. As he points out in this story, he is the son of Cuban exiles, having been born in Spain and coming to the United States as an infant.
His words about a situation that is a volatile mesh of politics, sports and culture are both powerful and professionally detached .
"I don't profess to feel an ounce of the anguish others did upon reading Guillen's baffling insensibility," Rodriguez wrote. "What I found even more troubling were some of the reactions to it. Someone sent a tweet to Guillen's son, Ozney, that in part read: 'I hope the people of Miami run u back to Venezuela and u all get kidnapped.' No, Guillen didn't wound me because my pain is vicarious. What he did was re-kindle memories of the heartache I've often witnessed in others."
Later in the piece, he adds: "My cousin, Camilo, was 8-years-old when his family escaped. Unlike me, he is an exile. I asked him if he forgives Guillen. 'I don't accept Guillen's apology,' he said."
Here is the rest of Rodriguez' piece.
A number of people in Miami, including the chairman of the county board, have called for Guillen to be fired. He is returning to Miami for a press conference today, at which he'll attempt to explain his words. People in south Florida will be hanging on every word.
However this plays out, Guillen measuring his words in the future is a tough one to imagine.