Let's face it, to crack the list of the Dumbest Things Ever Said By An Athlete or Coach, you've got to say something that is off-the-charts, Lloyd Christmas dumb.
This is aspiring to the very heights of Olympic stupidity and cluelessness. It's like trying to crack the top 10 of the dumbest things ever done by a teen diva or a congressman. We're talking un-greatness here. You've got to say something so ridiculously stupid that even Paris Hilton wouldn't say it — and maybe even Mel Gibson or Kanye West.
It's got to be Latrell Sprewell "I-have-to-feed-my-family" stupid. Or Patrick Ewing "athletes-make-a-lot-of-money-but-spend-a-lot-too" dumb.
So with that introduction, we give you — drum roll, please — Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. On the top 20 list of stupid things said in the sports arena, Guillen's recent comments to Time magazine rank first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th. Athletes who have offered excuses for positive drug tests ("My ex spiked my toothpaste") take the next three or four spots, followed by several NBA players, and then Guillen again.
Guillen, a Venezuelan, told Time, "I love Fidel Castro." He went on: "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that *$&%! is still here."
This was two days after he announced that he gets drunk at a hotel bar after every game and has been doing this "for 25, 28 years. It doesn't change."
Maybe he can put the Fidel Castro comments on his bar tab.
Even by Guillen's standards this was over the top (he tends to talk in Karl Malone-like streams of consciousness, except with lots of Major League profanity).
Talk about clueless and insensitive. For starters, the Marlins' new $2 billion stadium, which Miami will pay off in 40 years, is located in Little Havana, just down the street from Elian Gonzalez's house.
Miami and south Florida, and especially Little Havana, are filled with Cubans who have fled Castro's dictatorship and still have family members and friends in their homeland, which has sunk into the depths of poverty under communist rule. People are so desperate to get away from Castro that they'll swim with the sharks to get to America. Armando Valladares, who was hauled off to prison in the middle of the night by Castro's goons, wrote a book about the dictator's gulags and torture.
"The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship," the Marlins organization said in a statement while suspending Guillen for five games. Guillen apologized, noting that his remarks would have sounded better in Spanish. Apparently, the word "love" can be misinterpreted.
What was this man thinking? It's difficult to come up with comparisons, but let's try.
Would he stand on the site of the 9/11 disaster and proclaim, "I love Muslim terrorists? You know why? Lots of people have wanted to kill them and they're still here."
Maybe he could travel to Israel and announce, "I love Hitler. Too bad he's not around."
Or Uganda: "Idi Amin — now there was a great guy."
Writer Dave Zirin tried to explain Guillen's comments in The Nation by saying he "has a lot of respect for the way Castro and (Venezuelan president Hugo) Chavez stand up to the United States. He opposes efforts by the United States to impose its will on these countries and wishes the rest of Latin America would show similar mettle. It's not a question of the relative good or bad of Cuba's internal politics. It's a question of independence."
Meanwhile, the buttinski U.S. has enabled Guillen the freedom to thrive as a capitalist, allowing him to sign a $10 million contract with the Marlins and say things such as, "With money, I can go buy me a new boat, I can go buy me a new car, I can dress my wife the way I want to dress her, I can go to Spain. … Money is everything besides health. A lot of people say, 'Oh, love.' They don't know what love means. … I work in this job for money. I don't work for nothing. Money. That's it."
Wonder how Castro would feel about that?