SportsChump and Kid Sheraton talk Ozzie Guillen, family and freedom of speech

Ozzie Guillen’s recent comments about Fidel Castro caused quite a stir.

In case you hadn’t heard, in a recent Time Magazine interview, Venezuelan-born Ozzie Guillen, new manager of the Miami Marlins, was asked his feelings on Fidel Castro.  Little did Time know the shitstorm that question would create.  After Guillen said he admired Castro, and the uproar that ensued, the Marlins suspended Guillen five games, after which he quickly made a public apology, accepting the suspension, but later inventing some bogus explanation as to what he really meant to say, if not for the language barrier.  Local residents protested his ill-timed and insensitive statements, even though he was just speaking his mind, something he’s always been prone to do.

But how much of this stir was genuine, really affecting South Florida’s Cuban-American community and how much was media-generated?  I figured I’d get to the bottom of this situation the best way I knew how, by interviewing my favorite Cuban-American South Florida resident, Marlins season ticket holder and friend for nearly thirty years.  You know him as Kid Sheraton.

SportsChump:  Kid, first of all, tell us what it’s been like the past few days in South Florida.  I imagine this story has overtaken the news and is pretty much all anyone can talk about.

Kid Sheraton: It received a lot of air time, but not as much locally as it has in the national media. I really think ESPN made a huge deal about it, much more so than they did at the local level. The few protestors that showed up at the new Marlins stadium were largely comprised of older anti-Castro Cubans from the little Havana area.

SportsChump: Since both your parents are Cuban, but your roots are pretty much based in this country, and relatively unaffected by Castro, how offended were you by Guillen’s comments in comparison to anything else that’s come out of his mouth over the years?  And what of his five-game suspension?  In my opinion, it was probably something the franchise needed to do to appease its fan base, but I’m guessing Selig and Major League Baseball wanted to stay out of it as much as possible, only giving the nod once the suspension was handed down.

Kid Sheraton: The way I look at it is pretty simple. It’s Ozzie Guillen, right? I mean, that’s what he does.  He says things that are inappropriate, dumb and uninformed. He’s made comments before that he’s had to apologize for. He obviously needs to be sensitive and realize in what city and community he’s managing, and can’t say the things he said and alienate your core fan base. More disturbing to me is MLB’s response in a statement by Bud Selig that called for “social responsibility” and “sensitivity.” Really? How sensitive was it when Selig took MLB to Cuba in 1999 and sat and socialized with Castro himself while they sat together to watch the game? How was that being sensitive to the Cuban – American community then? I find it laughable and hypocritical in its highest form.

I also will add that Guillen will be on a much shorter leash because of what he said. Many of the beat writers are Cuban-American, obviously the fan base is and most commissioners that approved the building of the stadium are Cuban as well. The organization has no choice but to reign him in.

SportsChump:  What bothered you more?  His comments or the ensuing media coverage?  Or were they both equally as offensive?  Do you think the penalty was fair?  Not strict enough?  Do you think it was something they needed to do to not further alienate the fan base or do you think the organization and those involved were actually bothered by the comments?  A recent ESPN study showed 71% of Cuban-Americans were offended by Guillen’s statements but overall 61% of people polled were, so that’s not all that much more in my mind.  I think he just pissed off a whole bunch of people for not thinking before speaking, which is, as you suggested, something he’s known for.  How long do you think it will take for all this to blow over?  And would you ever consider not being a fan, or not going to a game, because of him?

Kid Sheraton: For the purposes of this chat, I’ve had the local news on a lot the last few days and barely a mention of the Guillen story. Maybe we’ll hear more about it on Sunday, which is the day he returns. I’ll be at that game in person and I’ll see what the response is to him. The organization HAD to respond the way it did. I think it was just and fair. Everyone will have to move on.

SportsChump: As we’ve seen in sports for a long time now, winning cures all ills.  Rattle off a nice, long winning streak or field a competitive team and all will be forgotten.  Have your team fall apart and they’ll run you out of town quicker than you can say “comunista.”  We’ll see if his players have his back for it’s unlikely they’ll say anything for fear of any further backlash.  I think what’s lost in all of this is the fact that Latin America is comprised of twenty or so different countries all with a unique political history.  Cuba stands out because of how Castro told the U.S. to stick it back in the day, and that’s really what I think Guillen was talking about, but we’ve also seen Castro’s political model fail miserably.  At this point, he’s a dinosaur ruling a country that’s starving for free trade.  Look, Mel Gibson said some anti-semitic stuff back in the day.  I’ll still watch “Braveheart” when it comes on TV, but I’ll also always remember that Gibson’s an uneducated douchebag.  I guess in that sense Guillen has that mountain to climb with the citizens of Miami.

After Kid Sheraton attended Sunday’s Marlins-Astros game with his father, here’s what he sent me afterwards.

Kid Sheraton: I looked over at him as we drove down I-95, quietly looking forward, excited at what was to come. He was smaller than he used to be, definitely grayer, but just as wise. From his perspective the hoopla surrounding Ozzie Guillen was just that, fodder for the media. He believes that the world has far greater issues than what this one trivial man might have to say. The aroma of Cuban coffee permeated out of a small house on the corner of NW 7th St. and 12th Ave. at the same time that the new Marlins Ballpark towered into view. As we got closer there was no flag waving, no anti-Castro chants, no protesters in sight. Didn’t hear anyone even talk about it. It was then that I realized that time robs us of many things, things like our memories and how generations have passed and how this one doesn’t seem to remember or care anymore about what happened 53 years ago. So as we did 30 years ago when he took me to my first Dodgers game, we walked arm and arm, the only difference is that now I’m the one who feels like twice his size. The man of little words turned to me and said “Son, I know that I’m glad we live in a place where anyone can say what they feel.”  I looked back as proud as ever and said “You know Pops, you’re absolutely right.”

SportsChump: And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why Kid Sheraton has been one of my best friends for thirty years.  Thanks for your time, brother, y abrazos para la familia.


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29 Replies to “SportsChump and Kid Sheraton talk Ozzie Guillen, family and freedom of speech”

  1. Pingback: SportsChump and Kid Sheraton talk Ozzie Guillen, family and freedom of speech - BallHyped, MLB | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Question: Why would Time Magazine ask a baseball coach what he thought about Castro?
    Answer: To evoke a response from a careless loudmouth that would cause controversy and sell magazines.
    Question: Does Ozzie have the right to his opinion?
    Answer: Of course, but why should we care what he thinks. The guy knows baseball and apparently very little else.

  3. Guillen has a right to voice to his opinions no matter how odious they might be . But for his lame as# act of contrition is a joke when one considers repeatedly over the course of his managerial career he has denigrated others to a far more heinous degree . Do you think that either Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf weren’t glad to see his of his troublesome !#s depart from the organization in the end ? Never mind the fact of Guillen’s numerous comments about Williams’ birthright and his now expletive postgame rants whenn the White Sox were simply abysmal . Now the Marlins’ front office are angered and some might say frustrated by their manager’s behavior ? I mean it’s not as if they weren’t forewarned as what to expect to begin with !

    You got to love Jordan as the Bobcats tank their season ! Now they can go after any one of quite possibly five or six Wildcats’ players who’ve declared their eligibility for the upcoming NBA Draft . Mike’s fiancee` Yvette Prieto doesn’t seem to mind either .

    Scott Fujita and Drew Brees have something of a credibility problem . Fujita as a player with the Saints initiated his own play and hurt scheme but whilst Payton and Williams’ practice was in play but he states in no way were the policies adopted mean to enable the injurying of an opponent . Brees for his part after his recent meeting with the NFL hierarchy to discuss the evidence in their possession concerning the Saints’ bounty scandal has suggested that the evidence held by the league is somewhat circumstantial and tenuous at best . Someone has been putting way too many opiates in Brees’ drinks . He’s not thinkijng straight ! There’s are a reason why Paytn , Loomis , Vitt and Williams admitted their guilt in the first place and that’s all that is needed for the NFL to press ahead with their ongoing investigation . Is Brees that much of an a@sh#le to begin with ? Your thoughts ?

    Don’t Start Something If You Can’t Say Something …………

    tophatal ………

  4. Its odd that the Cubans in Miami should protest Ozzie’s freedom of speech, one of the reasons that they came to the US. Of course he has the right to say that he admires Castro, but when you look at the big picture regarding Ozzie, there can only be one glaring thing that jumps out at you. The guy knows baseball but he sure is a moron on all other levels. When you’re a part of a business, you have to be sensitive to all of your customers. Even if most of those customers (Miami Cubans) don’t support your business. And to say that this is just “Ozzie being Ozzie” like this is “Manny being Manny” doesn’t make it right. The Marlins are already struggling to make it with poor attendance. I’m guessing that Ozzie won’t last for another month. Right or wrong, the (Cuban) people of Miami have spoken. On the other hand, The Marlins knew what they were getting with Ozzie. Of course my favorite Ozzie explosion was when he called Jay Mariotti a fag. That was too good.

  5. Aer…

    That was one of my points about this whole thing being all about the media, ultimately perpetuated by Time and ESPN. Kid Sheraton says it wasn’t all that big deal down there yet on ESPN, it’s pretty much all they could report for 36 hours.

    If Ozzie Guillen ultimately brings the Marlins a World Series trophy, how many of those protestors do you think will change their mind? And how many of them are still out there now?

  6. WOW! What a great read. Loved the ending when “Kid Sheraton” & his Dad summed it all up beautifully.

    Couldnt agree more. And how lucky they both are to have those special times together (& appreciate them).

    “Senior” (double entendre) Sheraton sounds very wise indeed.

    ANOTHER great post SC … a thought provoking piece.

    This is why you are Sports Blogger of the year Sir!


  7. I agree, Al. That Guillen “Oh, that’s not really what I meant” statement was ridiculous and reminded me of when Sammy Sosa sat in front of Congress and suddenly forgot how to speak English. And you’re right, Ken Williams has just opened up a nice bottle of wine.

    But on the flip side, I understand why Guillen and his publicists or bosses retracted the statement. It was a bonfire that needed to be extinguished before it got any worse.

    Here’s hoping the Bobcats land that #1 pick but is someone like Anthony Davis, who weighs all of 185 pounds soaking wet, really going to help that team win? If I’m them, I package that top pick for a number of lower picks. But then again, we’re talking Michael Jordan here who has proven he’s as incompetent in the front office as he was competent when he was playing.

  8. Snake…

    We sure haven’t heard from Mariotti in a while, huh? ESPN dropped him like a bad habit after that whole domestic violence thing. Really, Jay? Spend your lifetime criticizing athletes for beating their wives, then you get caught doing the same damn thing? Nice work.

    I think we all pretty much are in agreement on this one. Ozzie being Ozzie doesn’t make it right and even though we enjoy the right to free speech, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to use it. Nothing wrong with a little moderation.

    I will say this though. The Marlins were going to suffer in attendance regardless. I don’t think that’s necessarily Ozzie’s fault. It’s like they just built this new stadium and expected everyone to come when there are no guarantees. This isn’t Field of Dreams.

    It’s why the Rays aren’t just going to build one and move just for the hell of it.

  9. Glad you enjoyed, M.

    Who knew Kid Sheraton could write like that. I almost felt threatened, he he. Good thing the guy doesn’t have a sports website. It’d take attention away from me.

    And remind me to tell you the story about how Kid Sheraton, his pops, SportsChump and father of all played doubles tennis on the court right next to the Swedish Davis Cup team, complete with Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander.

    Another SportsChump brush with sports greatness that will go down in infamy.

  10. Chris, a brilliantly written piece.

    It belongs in the New York Times.

    Quite touching at its conclusion, it was a wonderful conversation to overhear.

    Good job!


  11. New York Post is probably more like it, Jimmy, but thanks for the kind words, he he.

    After all the Ozzie-mess went down, I just wanted to get the opinion of a person who lives down there, goes to the games and more importantly has roots directly based on what Guillen said.

    I’d say he handled the assignment with flying colors.

  12. That’s going right to the source of the offended people.

    Ozzie is a hot-headed numbskull with virtually NO CLASS. This quote by Kid Sheraton is too kind…….”He’s made comments before that he’s had to apologize for.”…… Ozzie never apologized for ANYTHING previously.

  13. Here’s the thing, RB. He’s never really had to.

    I’m no White Sox fan but I would imagine bringing that city a championship, the first that team had in an eternity, pretty much gave him free reign.

    So what if he said stupid shit every so often? He brought them hardware. Do you remember who he won that World Series with? Don’t get me wrong, it was a decent team, but nobody in their right mind saw that coming.

    Ozzie is what he is. He moves the meter and has never cared what anything about that.

    I will say this. As a proud Latino, I actually think he learned something from this incident, that maybe the things he says do have repercussions.

  14. Chris

    It’s been a pattern of behavior with Guillen throughout the course of his managerial career. He may well have been baited by the interviewer but Ozzie should be mature enough to realize what he was getting himself into and that they were looking for something controversial from him to say . Instead of deflecting perhaps doing something meaningful by way of a response the idiot simply fell for it all . But we shouldn’t be surprised given his track record . Guillen has become MLB’s answer to Fred Phelps. Let’s not forget the manager’s antics also prior to his departure from the White Sox. He burnt that bridge with his remarks about GM Kenny Williams and then chastising Jerry Reinsdorf . Both the Marlins and Guillen are deserving of their present dilemma .

    Speaking of which , what the hell is up with Valentine and the Red Sox. Management 101 …… if you’re going to be critical of one of the team’s best players then do so in a positive way and not simply lambast the player because you think it’s justified . Youkilis has one of the few reasons to actually watch Red Sox over the last few years .

    If Jordan decides to sell the Bobcats do you think Monopoly Money will be acceptable form of “tender” as in purchasing organization ?

    tophatal ……..

  15. Anthony Davis is the closest thing that college basketball has seen in terms of his game which comparable to that of Bill Russell in his collegiate years. Need one say anymore on the subject ?

    I’ve been checking out airline ticket prices as I was thinking about heading back to the UK for the Olympics . Hell , it’s now a none-starter as the Euro’s value against the $ leads me to believe it’s not worth it. How bad does thing have to become before the ” morons “ in Congress and the Senate get a god damn clue ?

    tophatal ……….

  16. Al…

    I didn’t read the Time interview, nor did I hear the context in which the Castro question was asked, HOWEVER, it sounds to me like a perfectly fair question. Guillen was a Latin American ballplayer, now a Latin American manager (how long have you been a black quarterback?) now managing in a market that is comprised largely of Latin Americans, mainly Cuban, who were at one point, affected by Fidel Castro. So kudos to the interviewer. Probably got themselves a raise for that one.

    As we all agree, had Ozzie had any sense at all, he would have reworded his answer but again, we can’t blame him for speaking his mind if that’s how he really feels just as we can’t blame the people who protested his response if that’s how they felt or blame the organization for suspending him if they felt that was the right thing to do.

    And Valentine? Pretty auspicious start so far, huh? But then again, it just reminds me of Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy. The inmates are running the asylum in both Boston and Orlando and there’s nothing either coach can do about it.

  17. Al…

    Really? Did you just compare Anthony Davis to Bill Russell?

    It’s interesting that you mention that. I was actually half-inclined to write a piece asking whether Anthony Davis had the best year ever for any college basketball player, or at least freshman, but I thought I’d get laughed out of cyberspace.

    Not too much hype about the Olympics so far, man. Where’s my constant network reminders that they’re only a few weeks away?

  18. Dub…

    As I mentioned in the piece, Kid and I have known each other for thirty years.

    He and I were smoking weed (did I just say that) and trading baseball cards when they were actually worth something.

    I’m glad he was able to provide his own (and his dad’s) unique perspective on what really went on down there.

    I’ll get his take on Jamie Moyer soon, whose rookie cards, are still pretty much worthless. That should change when he makes the Hall though, right?

  19. Aero seems to be dead on with my opinion on this matter, and Kid Sheraton confirmed my suspicion that this would die a quick death…

  20. Hey, Dub, if you want to get a kick out of an Ozzie take, check this one out.

    She claims Ozzie should have been fired. You should, ahem, leave a comment.

    I did.

    My favorite part of her piece is where she suggests “his remarks are offensive to all people who believe in democracy.”

    That’s rich.

    Drop her a line and tell her I said hello.

  21. The first problem is Ozzie Guillen doesn’t have a filter. That usually gets you fired in most workplaces. A lot of us don’t like what he’s said in the past or how he goes about his business. Throw in this latest comment…and you can’t help but wonder what’s next up for him. This is not the first time Guillen has verbally challenged people’s sensibilities – he has a history. The source of the comments on Castro is Guillen and we bring our pre-conceived feelings on him to the words, which helps fan the flames. It’s funny how we bring up the free speech “force field” when it comes to sports figures because a lot of people have lost their jobs over speaking or writing exactly what is on their mind. Pro sports sits in its own little snow-globe bubble and perhaps that is where the most frustration occurs for those not inclined to take games so seriously. They can’t understand how a guy in his position doesn’t get whacked when people in other lines of work do. It may die a quick death in the world of professional sports…but that’s not a real world anyway. You can be in a position of authority and pretty much say and do as you please.

  22. Little did we know, SA, all the issues Ozzie’s statement would bring up.

    But it definitely made for some good conversation.

    I sent Dub that one woman’s article. I think he’s about to let her have it pretty good. Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

  23. Pingback: Stuff That Grinds My Gears: The Ozzie Guillen Situation Redux « Dubsism

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  25. May Day is a National Communist Holiday and millions showed up in Havana to listen to Fidel Castro mirroring the illegal alien protest marchers in the United States of America, as Castro condemned the American Government. While the United States Congress and the United States Senate cave into the demands of the protesters and boycott participants. Fidel Castro the Communist Dictator of Cuba who promised government reform for the peasants, instead took over the country for himself after over throwing the government. He says he sees the start of the same movement in the United States and is so very proud of all the protestors in the United States of America on this historic May Day Communist Holiday.;

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  26. Pingback: Week 18 College and NFL Pick ‘Em: SportsChump vs The Wife Hates Sports - Sports Chump

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