Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ozzie Guillen meets Miami politics

Ozzie Guillen's big mouth and quick tongue may this time
have gotten him into more trouble than he can handle.
On Monday, in a quick comment on the Ozzie Guillen "love and respect Fidel Castro" flap, I said: "I'm not sure there are enough fire extinguishers to put out this blaze."

On Tuesday, the Marlins recalled their field manager from a road trip, announced a five-game suspension, and put him in front of the cameras to issue a bilingual apology.

I doubt it will be enough. For one thing, as emotional as Guillen was on Tuesday, his Time comments are quite similar to those he made about four years ago in a Men's Journal piece, so the sincerity of Tuesday's disavowal is open to question.

For another, he's bucking two major tides in the local politics of Miami, which has little in common with what we're familiar with in Minnesota:

  • The Cuban exile community has established a groupthink that makes even a nuanced discussion of Cuba, the Castros and U.S. policy almost impossible, and Ozzie doesn't do nuance;
  • The new Marlins stadium, unlike Target Field, has been a disaster for the local politicians who supported it.

The scene outside the Marlins
Stadium during Guillen's
mea culpa press conference.
This is a baseball blog, not a politics one, but as a (long-ago) poli-sci major I find the multi-decade stranglehold a relatively small but concentrated voting bloc has on a piece of U.S. foreign policy fascinating. For roughly 60 years, our policy on Cuba has been one of regime change — Castro out — and it has failed at every turn. Yet the passion of a few hundred thousand voters in Florida and the details of the Electoral College has hijacked 11 administrations on the subject. I suspect that the diaspora harbors the notion that when the Castros are gone they can return to Havana and remake the island; I doubt that's realistic.

The point is: The exiles are used to getting what they want in U.S. politics on Cuba. Nobody with White House ambitions wants to cross them. Ozzie Guillen's views on Castro, malformed or otherwise, are irrelevant to anything real, but he has crossed the local community, and that's a problem for his employers.

All the more so because that community already had animosity toward Guillen's employers. The new stadium, built in Little Havana despite neighborhood opposition, has already ended the political career of the mayor who championed it and triggered a federal investigation of its financing.

Miami pols reflexively curry the favor of the exile community. They have also learned that bashing the Marlins plays well. This flap is a two-for-one opportunity.

And the great irony in all this is that Guillen lives there in the offseason. Somehow he managed to be oblivious to the political tripwire that surrounded him when he took the Miami job.

1 comment:

  1. What is your opinion on the recently released photos of castro and bud selig hanging out and catching a game together?

    Oh, and TWINS WIN! Capps had me worried but we pulled it out!