Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen will return to Miami to apologize again for a remark he made about Fidel Castro that has angered Cuban Americans, and has local officials saying he should lose his job.
PHILADELPHIA — An off day from baseball may prove to be the most difficult — and most important — day of Ozzie Guillen’s career.
The brash-talking Marlins manager will tell how he really feels about Fidel Castro in a news conference Tuesday morning at Marlins Park.
A story in Time magazine quoted him as saying, “I love Castro.” Aware of the firestorm of outrage growing in South Florida’s Cuban community, Guillen flew back to Miami after Monday’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies to face the consequences.
“I feel very guilty about it and very bad and sad and very embarrassed,” he said. “I have to wear it, I have to face it. I have to grab the bull by the horns, and I will do it (Tuesday).”
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Although Guillen apologized Saturday and amended his endorsement of Castro, the Cuban-American group Vigilia Mambisa planned to boycott and demonstrate against the Marlins until Guillen steps down. Chairmen of the city and county commissions in Miami-Dade and other public officials called for Guillen’s removal.
Rickie Ricardo, the Phillies’ Spanish broadcaster and a resident of Pembroke Pines — a suburb northwest of Miami — understands the powder keg of feelings about Castro in South Florida. He was born in New York after his parents fled Cuba in 1961 while his mother was pregnant with him.
“My own father is a Marlins fan, lives in South Florida. The first person he called when he heard this was me. He said, ‘What the hell is going on here? I’m not buying any tickets until this is cleared up.’
“It’s a hot subject. They’re trying to develop a new fan base in a new park. This is the last thing they need. They could go 0-50, it wouldn’t be as bad as that. That’s the last thing this franchise needs.”
Particularly after public money from the city and county provided the majority of the funding for the $515 million retractable-roof ballpark in Little Havana. The Marlins have been mum except for a brief statement condemning Castro and his impact on Cubans in South Florida.
“Our community has been overly generous to the Marlins, and we cannot allow them as an organization to continue to treat us, the residents of Miami, with disdain or be dismissive of our concerns,” said Francis Suarez, chairman of the City of Miami Commission. “Now, on behalf of many angry residents, I’m calling for real action to be taken and for the removal of Mr. Guillen.”
Ricardo said he has dealt professionally for several years with Guillen, who has a history of inflammatory remarks, and believes this is an extreme case of the Venezuelan-born manager speaking without gauging the impact of his words.
Guillen has made contradictory comments about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that have angered some of his countrymen. Last week he revealed that he likes to get drunk after every game, win or lose.
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