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Roeper: I’m glad Ozzie Guillen is now Miami’s problem

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen talks reporters news conference Tuesday Miami.  |   LYNNE SLADKY~AP

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen talks to reporters at a news conference Tuesday in Miami. | LYNNE SLADKY~AP

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Updated: May 12, 2012 8:11AM



When I first heard of Ozzie Guillen’s ridiculous and ignorant praise of Fidel Castro, I thought:

There you go Miami. He’s all yours. Good luck with that.

Chicagoans and in particular White Sox fans were all too familiar with “Ozzie being Ozzie,” i.e., Ozzie saying something idiotic. It was the longest-running act in town this side of Blue Man Group.

Sometimes we’d chalk up Ozzie’s offensive ramblings to the language barrier. Sometimes we’d chalk it up to a joke gone wrong. Sometimes we’d roll our eyes. And sometimes we wouldn’t smile at all. He said WHAT?!

We’d call Guillen to task, and we’d wonder how many more ill-conceived and poorly worded comments or Tweets he could get away with before his 2005 World Series immunity would expire.

By the time Guillen and the 2011 White Sox quit — and that was before the season officially ended — I believe most Sox fans were more than ready to sign the divorce papers and move on.

With all the smiles Guillen gave us, with all the good charity works he did, with all the thrills provided during that memorable 2005 run, it was long past time. His act felt about as fresh as Jim Belushi doing the Blues Brothers thing.

With the addition of Guillen and key players such as Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell (not to mention the madness that is Carlos Zambrano), and the unveiling of a new, $2 billion stadium in Little Havana that’s equal parts baseball park and theme attraction, the Miami Marlins were suddenly one of the most intriguing teams in baseball, with some experts predicting a trip to the World Series. Guillen and Reyes were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. When it was time for the domestic season opener, ESPN gave us Philadelphia vs. Miami, at the new stadium of course.

It took all of two days for Guillen to torpedo all that excitement and turn it into a full-blown controversy, with some Miami-Dade officials saying the only solution is for Ozzie to resign.

The beginning of the end? Already?

Resign? He just got there. What’d you think you were gonna get with this guy.

It’s a measure of Ozzie’s madness that nobody blinked when he said last week he gets drunk after every game, win or lose — a habit he’s indulged for some 25 years. That might explain, though not excuse, some of Ozzie’s Tweets and comments.

The Castro comments? Quite another matter. Forget about all of Guillen’s feuds with Kenny Williams and his baseball-related controversies. This isn’t the first time Ozzie has stepped into it politically. He has expressed his support for Hugo Chavez. (He’s also been a vocal critic of Chavez.) And as Rick Telander pointed out, this isn’t even the first time Guillen has expressed admiration for Castro’s cockroach-like ability to stay alive and in power all these years.

The Marlins handed Guillen a five-game suspension, but you get the feeling he’s also one more stupid comment away from a firing. This time, many feel, Ozzie may have gone too far.

I’d say the suspension should be enough. Not that I’m defending Guillen’s comments in any way. You know that, you’re smarter than that. But to fire the guy seems like overkill.

Yes, Guillen is a high-profile celebrity managing a baseball team in a city uniquely sensitive to comments about Fidel Castro. But he’s also just a crazy-ass baseball guy who shouldn’t be taken seriously on any views he has outside of the Marlins’ starting lineup.

Regardless of how this plays out, I’m still glad Guillen’s somebody else’s problem.

Who knows if Robin Ventura will be a great manager, but I can guarantee you this much: He’ll never have to fly back to Chicago on an off day to apologize for his political comments.



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