The Miami Marlins did their best to do some damage control this week. Following comments by manager Ozzie Guillen that discussed his admiration for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the Marlins suspended Guillen for five games, a penalty that has been widely debated since it was issued Tuesday.
Now the question becomes what happens next. There are plenty of those — including some callers during the following interview — that think five games was a joke and that Guillen should be fired. It will certainly be interesting to see if those with that opinion continue hammering their opinions home or if the situation quells a bit. Marlins president David Samson believes it will be the latter, saying the healing has begun and he hopes the Marlins can simply get back to baseball.
David Samson joined 790 The Ticket in Miami with the Dan Lebatard Show to discuss the hardest moment in the last week, Guillen meeting with some of those touched by the situation in Cuba, if Guillen would still have a job if he said the same thing about Hitler, if he’s worried that the movement will only grow following the suspension and if the Marlins have lost any sponsors.
What was your worst moment of the past week?:
“I think the worst moment was just simply when we got a chance to speak to some political prisoners who had suffered under Castro’s dictatorship. That put things in perspective. We’re a baseball team, we want to entertain people and want to talk baseball and when you’re hearing stories and meeting people who have gone through such pain, it’s hard.”
Is it true that Ozzie cried when meeting some of those folks after his press conference?:
“It’s tough. I mean, listen, Ozzie, I think what he said stands and I’ll let his words continue to stand for what he said. We believe in him and believe in his apology. It put things in perspective. You can joke around about Hanley Ramirez and baseball and all of those kind of things. It can be funny or not funny; it can offend or not offend. … You don’t talk about this kind of stuff.”
Remove Castro’s name from the comments and insert Hitler. Is Ozzie still your manager?:
“I don’t know how to do that because I can’t react to that. You’d have to sort of go through the whole process. I don’t know. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with that. What we had to deal with is the reality that faced us which is what was said and his view of not saying it right when it was translated. … Everyone deserves a second chance and he’s getting his. He takes this seriously and just looking forward to getting back to baseball.”
Ozzie said his press conference would be open to the public but activists were turned away. What happened there?:
“I would love for you to come talk to Ozzie, absolutely, and Ozzie would want to talk to you and hear your story. That sort of time, it was difficult to do because of the space in the room and the amount of the media. … What you go through and what your family has gone through, that’s really serious and horrific and you can’t even talk about it. We’re a baseball team and we should be talking baseball and entertaining you, not making you think about this stuff.”
Are you worried that this movement against Ozzie is going to continue and even grow bigger now?:
“I think the healing has begun. If we start losing a lot of games, I think the focus turns into, ‘Man, we may have signed the wrong players, put together the wrong team.’ I think that that’s where the focus should be right now as this season progress. The healing for us is just beginning and Ozzie and all of us enjoy the things we do in the community and meeting with the people we meet with. … That stuff always continues and always had prior to last week and always will. In terms of the negativity around the club, I think it’s so positive. I think it’s something where healing has to happen and it’s starting to happen.”
Have any sponsors threatened to back out?:
“No, and we’ve spoken to our sponsors and said, listen, they accepted and we accepted Ozzie’s apology. They appreciated the fact that we acted and took this as seriously as it deserved to be taken and did not sort of stand and wait to be reactive. We were proactive. Again, this is about an overall view of baseball in Miami and the support that this team has.”
Listen to David Samson on 790 The Ticket in Miami here (Interview begins at 1:07:50)