Were The Marlins Right To Suspend Ozzie Guillen for Loving Fidel Castro?

And imagine...Media Matters had NOTHING to do with it!

‘”I love Fidel Castro,’ blurts Ozzie Guillen, the new manager of the Miami Marlins, in his Jupiter, Fla., spring-training office before an early-March team workout.”

And with that spontaneous utterance, quoted in a Time magazine feature, Guillen, who was hired during baseball’s off-season to lead the long-languishing Miami baseball franchise to elusive community popularity and on-the-field success, suddenly found himself at the epicenter of a career-threatening controversy. Cuban groups in the Miami area were horrified, and demanded that Guillen be fired. Guillen immediately went on an apology tour, arguing that he had “mistranslated in his head from Spanish to English,” and that he emphatically did not “love” the Cuban dictator, but in fact hated him. Even though he said he loved him. That’s some bad translating.

“I feel like I betrayed my Latin community,” Guillen said to one Miami group, according to ESPN’s translation of his comments in Spanish. “I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands and I want to say I’m sorry to all those people who are hurt indirectly or directly. I’m sorry for what I said and for putting people in a position they don’t need to be in. And for all the Cuban families, I’m sorry. I hope that when I get out of here, they will understand who Ozzie Guillen is. How I feel for them. And how I feel about the Fidel Castro dictatorship. I’m here to face you, person to person. It’s going to be a very difficult time for me.”

He got that right. Today the Marlins suspended their manager for five games, saying in a statement, Continue reading

Avocations, Conflicts of Interest, and Country Joe West

Some employers are troubled by the avocations and outside activities of employees, a concern that often deserves a  defiant “none of your business” in response. However, sometimes the concern is justified, such as when the avocation adversely reflects on the individual’s reputation to the extent that it harms his or her ability to perform, or when the avocation actually interferes with the job, such as a when a recreational rugby player keeps missing work because of injuries. Another problem is when the avocation creates a conflict of interest in which conduct that may be good for the avocation undermines the job.

The latter is exemplified by Major League Umpire Joe West, who fancies himself a country music singer and songwriter when he isn’t calling balls and strikes. As nicely narrated on the blog “It’s About the Money,” West has long been the most flamboyant and combative of umps, as proven by the fact that a lot of people know his name. Umpires aren’t supposed to be stars, celebrities or personalities: if you notice a particular umpire, it is almost always because he has made a mistake.  They are important, however. Their acuity of sight and judgment are called upon many times in every game, and can make a significant difference in scores, standings, championships and careers. Like judges, they have to be trusted, and their integrity above suspicion. “The Common Man,” who wrote the blog post, believes that West’s singing career, such as it is, creates a conflict of interest that undermines that trust, and worse, warps his judgment on the field. Continue reading

Baseball Ethics Confusion: When Respect Is Disrespectful

After the Florida Marlins’ Brett Carroll stole second on Chicago White Sox pitcher Scott Linebrink in an attempt to pad a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning of an interleague game between the two teams, the White Sox cried foul. The Marlins, some members of the team said, had violated one of the “unwritten rules of baseball,” in other words, baseball etiquette. Continue reading