Selig Legitimized Castro Far More Than Guillen

As much as we despise the murderous Castro brothers regime that’s plunged Cuba into darkness for over a half-century, we couldn’t help but empathize with oft-hyperbolic Ozzie Guillen after his regrettable comments about Fidel Castro in this week’s TIME.

(’Laughing’ Angelos: Cubans escaping mass murderer “would’ve marred trip”)

You see, Guillen was merely toeing the MLB party line on Castro, which has long been set by his ultimate boss, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

It was Selig, along with current Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who relentlessly lobbied an unsympathetic United States Government in the ’90s to allow them to stage a game between the Cuban national team and the Orioles in Havana.

The game, shamefully, eventually became reality on March 28, 1999, and was actually televised by ESPN at the time.

Peter Angelos, Fidel Castro, Bud Selig in Havana March 28, 1999

(Did Everyone Get a Gold-Plated Glock Under Their Seat?)

In the history of Fidel and Raúl Castro’s reign of terror, there’s a case to be made that nothing has done more to legitimize their python-like grip over the island nation than co-opting America’s National Pastime that day.

In the aftermath of Guillen’s five-game suspension by the Marlins for his comments about Castro, today Selig issued the following statement on behalf of Major League Baseball:

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.

Coincidence we’re sure that apparently Selig forgot to leave out exactly why Guillen’s comments were so offensive as to merit a significant suspension of a sitting major league manager.

 (”Socially Responsible” Selig: Cuban Despot “Humble” and “Fascinating”)

Or why the same “social institution with important social responsibilities,” while on his watch, actively embraced being a featured centerpiece of what turned out to be a masterstroke of Castro propaganda - masqueraded as a 1999 baseball game backed by the full faith and credit of Selig’s Major League Baseball.

And while now-profusely apologetic Guillen is shamed to the ends of the earth, Fidel Castro’s Selig-enabled finest hour continues to serve its purpose over two decades later - thanks to the well-circulated photo of Selig, Angelos and the mass murderer, seated together in the front row of perhaps the first capacity crowd in history to watch a major sporting event by invitation only. (We say “perhaps” on the off chance Hitler sold GA seats for the ‘36 Olympics.)

Selig keeps up appearances: No mention of Castro in Guillen condemnation

(Why Didn’t Selig Mention Evil Dictator In MLB’s Guillen Release?)

The current public excoriation of Guillen is particularly ironic considering the media, baseball establishment and public took a complete pass on Guillen after he made almost identical comments about Castro to Rick Telander of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES four years ago.

Not to mention the same media, baseball establishment and public lodging nary a protest as Selig and Castro joined blood-stained hands in ‘99 … with one major exception.

48 hours before the Orioles game in Cuba in 1999, Mike Phillips of the MIAMI HERALD reported comments from Florida Marlins Owner John Henry at the time that could not be construed as anything other than withering criticism.

Highlights of the invective aimed by Henry at his baseball colleagues from the March 26, 1999 Herald article:

The loudest voice against the Baltimore Orioles’ exhibition in Cuba on Sunday may not be coming from a protester with a bullhorn but from the owner of the Florida Marlins, who is almost insulted baseball has allowed the game to happen.`

`The major problem here is ignorance,” says John W. Henry, who bought the Marlins two months ago. “People are not aware of the depth of oppression in Cuba. If they were, no one would support this game.”

Major League Baseball called Henry this week and asked if he would like to attend the game. Henry said he almost couldn’t believe it.

“I declined,” Henry said. “I’m opposed to the game, and the Marlins organization is opposed to this game.”

Henry was somewhat upset that baseball didn’t call him before it approved the game, but even more upset that baseball didn’t ask the players.

“It’s disappointing that baseball didn’t consider asking the Cuban-American players how they feel about the game,” Henry said.

The Marlins have several players and coaches who were either born in Cuba or whose parents were born in Cuba. To a man, they are vehemently against the game.

“Obviously, the Florida Marlins should be the team playing a game in Cuba, if the game in Cuba were the right thing to do. But it’s not the right thing to do,” Henry said.

Henry said someone should have contacted the Marlins.

“What is the percentage of our community that is Cuban-American? Virtually every Cuban-American is a baseball fan,” Henry said, making his point that no one considered the South Florida Cuban community when the decision was being made.

Henry has been out of the country the past week, but he returned Thursday. Last week, Henry met with protesters who showed up at Fort Lauderdale Stadium for a Marlins-Orioles exhibition.

“I wanted them to know I support them, that we support them,” he said.

Henry was also critical Thursday of Orioles chief operating officer Joe Foss, who downplayed the protests at (Orioles Spring Home) Fort Lauderdale Stadium by saying there were only 250 protesters in a crowd of 4,000.

“If [Foss] were to go to Miami-Dade County and ask the man on the street how he felt, I think he would see it’s a much larger percentage than he is aware of,” Henry said.

In his aforementioned comments to the Chicago Sun-Times four years ago, Guillen said, “He’s a bull—- dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power.’’

Sound familiar, baseball fans?

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Need Baseball Gambling Tips? Ask The Marlins

South Florida sports radio host Andy Slater of 640 AM Sports recently noted on his weekday talk show that the Marlins are currently advertising for a sports handicapper website behind home plate and on television game broadcasts.

From an interview between Bud Selig and Peter Keating in ESPN THE MAGAZINE on April 1, 2011:

The Mag: Let’s talk about gambling. I was watching a Marlins game last year and saw a big ad for a casino on the leftfield wall.

BS: Life has changed. I’m sensitive about this issue, but casino gambling is legal. Any gambling involving baseball, though, is a no-no.

If only Pete Rose had used the “life has changed” defense!

Watch the video.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

Florida Marlin Can’t Wait For New Stadium Seats

Miami media guy Andy Slater tipped me off to this delightful tweet from Florida Marlin Logan Morrison about his team’s new ballpark - which is due to open in 2012.

Logan Morrison Tweets About The New Florida Marlins Ballpark

Have u seen our new ballpark? Max can u earmuff 4 me? We r goin 2 gt so much ass there its goin 2 b sick. Im talkin like crazy boyband ass

Had the Marlins listened to Morrison, surely they wouldn’t have limited seating capacity to a modest 37,000.

Congratulations are also in order for Morrison on his ability elicit a giggle or six with the “boyband” line.

Read more…

Confirmed: Ramirez Will Apologize, Play Today

Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, benched by manager Fredi Gonzalez for lack of hustle and a poor attitude, reportedly said Wednesday that he plans to apologize to the team before the Fish face the St. Louis Cardinals today.

Fredi Gonzalez Speaks To Media In St. Louis About Hanley Flap

(Gonzalez has confirmed Ramirez in lineup for today  - see update below)

In response to the benching and his subsequent comments about Gonzalez, Ramirez told Wednesday:

I’m sorry that all this got so ugly. My intent was not to cause a distraction. I’m sorry that things got this heated. The team, the fans don’t deserve it. We are all professionals here and we’re pulling for the same side. I’ll try to close this chapter and focus on playing baseball.”

Ramirez also clarified his comments about Gonzalez having never played in the major leagues. Read more…

Fredi On Hanley: ‘Surprised’ If Not In Lineup Today

Appearing on WQAM-AM in Miami today, Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez addressed the playing status of Hanley Ramirez, who was recently benched by Gonzalez for not hustling and making subsequent, incendiary comments about the manager.

Hanley Ramirez Dogs It, Gets Removed From Game By Fredi Gonzalez

Gonzalez: “I would be surprised if … I would be really surprised if he’s not in the lineup (against St. Louis) today. We’ll take care of it, he’ll be in the three hole and playing shortstop and hopefully we’ll be shaking hands (after a win) after the game.

Gonzalez removed Ramirez from Monday night’s Marlins-Diamondbacks game in Miami because he thought the shortstop didn’t hustle while chasing a ball in the outfield. Ramirez was then benched for Tuesday’s game against Arizona.

The Marlins open a series today in St. Louis against the Cardinals.

Gonzalez, who indicated yesterday to reporters that Ramirez would not play again until he apologized, noted to WQAM today that he had not talked to the shortstop since Tuesday’s game and that he had seen no indication that Ramirez had apologized to any of his teammates. Read more…

Fredi On Hanley Starting Wednesday: “We’ll See”

The Marlins marched on without Hanley Ramirez Tuesday afternoon, defeating the Diamondbacks 8-0 behind two RBIs from Ramirez replacement Brian Barden and stellar pitching by Josh Johnson.

Hanley Ramirez and Fredi Gonzalez

Ramirez was benched today after not hustling during the Marlins 5-1 loss to Arizona last night and making incendiary remarks about Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez Tuesday morning.

Though Ramirez did not speak to the media after the team’s victory without him today, manager Gonzalez did address Ramirez’s current status with the team following the game. Read more…

Marlins Mgr: Hanley Won’t Play Until He Apologizes

Last night Hanley Ramirez was removed from the Marlins-Diamondbacks game by Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez for not hustling on a defensive play. (More on that here, including video of incident.)

Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez Demands Apology From Hanley Ramirez

(24/7 real time updates from Brooks on Twitter)

As the Marlins have a day game today, Ramirez addressed the media about the incident Tuesday morning:

It’s his (Manager Fredi Gonzalez) team. He does whatever he (expletive) wants. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s brutal.

That’s OK. He (Gonzalez) doesn’t understand that (playing hurt). He never played in the big leagues.”

Gonzalez responded to Ramirez’s comment about him not understanding the situation because he never played in the big leagues. Read more…

Video: Hanley Ramirez Has Tiger LeBron Moment

Last night we witnessed the difference between superstar treatment of a MLB player who quit during a game while plagued by a stealth injury, Hanley Ramirez, and handling of LeBron James and Tiger Woods in similar circumstances.

Hanley Ramirez Dogs It, Gets Removed From Game By Fredi Gonzalez

(Video of incident)

Sensing that Ramirez, despite having “smoked” a foul ball off his ankle in a previous plate appearance, was loafing after a booted soft pop, last night Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez ejected his superstar shortstop from the game in the second inning. To make matters more interesting, Gonzalez did the honors in full view of the team in the dugout.

An obviously elbow-impaired LeBron James also recently quit on his team, in Game 5 of the playoff series between the Cavaliers and Celtics. Was James punished or questioned in public by any member of the Cavaliers organization? No.

Same thing with Tiger Woods at Quail Hollow in Charlotte last month. Read more…

Wait, Someone Tried To Impersonate Kiko Calero?

Give Oscar Corral credit: he’s got a flair for obscurity. After all, if you were asked to list every single major leaguer who’s been in the league for the last seven years*, you’d give up long before reaching Kiko Calero, a journeyman reliever who’s currently toiling away in Baseball Hell Miami with the Marlins.

Oscar Corral Kiko Calero
(Really, Corral should not have been using this as an ID.)

But perhaps that was the draw for Corral, a suspected illegal immigrant; the whole “I must be Kiko if I say I am, because who would ever make that up?” thing. Even Kiko Calero doesn’t enjoy telling people he’s Kiko Calero.

Read more…

Speed Read: Oregon, Boise Trade Musical Barbs

For a lot of us, tonight is like Christmas, your birthday and finding your Dad’s stash of Swank Magazines when you were 12 all rolled into one: college football starts tonight. And unlike most opening week mismatches, tonight’s marquee match-up should be a doozy, with Pac-10 dark horse Oregon braving possible blindness from the Smurf Turf and the color-coordinated fans to America’s underdog, the Boise State Broncos (current listed as a 3.5-point favorite).

Jeremiah Masoli

But this isn’t just a compelling game between two Top 25 teams with big aspirations. No, these two teams (in my best Jim Ross drawl) Just Plain Don’t Like Each Other, especially after last season’s win by Boise State that featured two Broncos getting ejected and Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli getting KOed by a cheap shot while attempting his first pass of the game. Here’s some video if you want to judge for yourself:

Read more…