By Steve Gould
9:21 AM EDT, April 11, 2012
By now, you've heard the news: The Miami Marlins on Tuesday suspended Ozzie Guillen for five games for telling Time magazine he loves and respects Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
I wrote earlier that while I find Guillen's remarks stupid and insensitive -- and completely understand why many people were offended by them -- I thought it was wrong to punish him for them. The Marlins decided to suspend Guillen anyway, and trying to appease the outrage felt by much of the Cuban-American portion of the team's fan base certainly had something to do with that. While I might not agree with the decision, I understand it, and it's their prerogative.
To reiterate, this is Guillen being suspended by his own team, not Major League Baseball. But what rubbed me the wrong way was MLB commissioner Bug Selig's statement in support of the Marlins' action:
"Major League Baseball supports today's decision by the Marlins to suspend Ozzie Guillen. As I have often said, Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities. All of our 30 Clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game's many cultures deserve. Mr. Guillen's remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game."
On its face, that statement is fine. But this is coming from Bud Selig. The same Bud Selig who, along with Orioles owner Peter Angelos, sat with Castro and took in an exhibition game Baltimore played in Cuba in 1999.
Obviously, it's not the same as Guillen declaring his respect for the dictator, but Selig attended a public event with Castro in the very country where Castro has terrorized his own people for decades.
Call that trip 13 years ago diplomacy. Call it whatever you'd like. No matter what you call it, Selig's holier-than-thou scolding of Guillen rings hollow.
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