Ozzie Guillen has done everything in his power to make his recent hiring as manager of the Miami Marlins look like a poor one, but the blame does not rest on his shoulders.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is the one that needs to explain his thinking. Sure, Ozzie has already made a couple of mistakes in the early season — professing fondness for alcoholism and Fidel Castro hasn’t gone over well in South Beach — but what did Loria expect?
Guillen is better known for his on-field antics — he was ejected 27 times during his Chicago tenure — and curse-laden post-game interviews than for his career .524 win percentage. During his time with the White Sox, Guillen called his own team “a piece of shit” and used a homophobic slur to describe Chicago sports writer Jay Mariotti, among many other transgressions.
Loria knew this going in, and that’s why his decision to hire Guillen was the wrong one.
Loria’s motive was clear: The Marlins have undergone a franchise-wide rebranding, with a new “Miami” (né Florida) tag, a new logo, new uniforms and a state-of-the-art $515 million stadium fresh off construction. Add to those a few major contracts for top-dollar free agents and you have some serious baseball gumbo brewing in the bay.
Loria saw Guillen as a logical choice to push the new flair-filled agenda. In short, the Marlins stand to sell more tickets with Ozzie Guillen as their manager than they would with some fat, old white dude who sunbathes for nine innings.
However, that supposedly evident truth is reversing itself, and quickly.
Crazy off-the-field Ozzie has gotten into some deep shit with the Miami community, who took offense to his “I love Fidel Castro” comment in the most recent edition of TIME Magazine. Although Guillen was clearly being facetious, Cuban-Americans were reasonably upset with the hometown baseball manager’s hurtful statement.
Local fans and politicians are calling for Guillen’s head, rallying around the already corrupted beauty of Marlins Park and ripping up their season tickets. While the manager was recently suspended for five games, it’s nowhere near enough to appease the bloodthirsty citizens of South Florida.
While America blames Ozzie, Loria is the true fool here. Guillen was a sell-your-soul-for-a-quick-buck type of hire, and it’s clear the owner is coming out on the wrong end of that deal. His gigantic investment in the “new” Marlins (quotation marks inserted because, well, the team is playing awful as usual) deserved a more conservative hire.
The refreshed organization should use star players and fun marketing campaigns to intrigue the community, not a big-mouthed manager who spells nothing but trouble and controversy. But now, the franchise is stuck with Guillen, a P.R. nightmare who didn’t even wait until May to put a big black eye on the franchise.
After all, only five games into the season, the team is losing and a whole fan demographic is doing everything short of tearing up its tickets rather than enter the stadium. It appears to be a raucous environment in Miami, as protestors get angrier by the day. All they want is for Guillen to be fired.
One bystander at a recent anti-Guillen rally outside of Marlins Park said to the Miami Herald, “If you’re insensitive to the community, you have to pay.”
Ozzie is, as usual, making the situation about himself.
“This is not the Marlins’ problem,” Guillen said of his rant.
Tell that to Jeffrey Loria.