If you had "the first week of the 2012 season" in the "When will Ozzie Guillén say something that will get him in trouble?" pool, you win.
The new Marlins manager wasn't even a week into the season when he made this controversial comment to TIME magazine:
"I love Fidel Castro," Guillen was quoted as saying. "I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother****** is still here."
Well. As you can imagine, that didn't go over very well in south Florida, populated with many Cuban exiles. The Marlins issued a statement that directly rebuked their field manager:
"We are aware of the article. There is nothing to respect about Fidel Castro. He is a brutal dictator who has caused unimaginable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community full of victims of that dictatorship and people in Cuba are still suffering."
Guillén had to do further damage control:
As the Marlins were preparing to take batting practice at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, the four beat writers who cover the team were summoned to Guillén’s office, where he apologized in rambling fashion.
"I’m against the way he [Castro] treats people and the way [he has treated] his country for a long time. I’m against that 100 percent," he said. "…The way this man [has been] treating people for the last 60 years."
That statement directly contradicts Ozzie's first one. So which one did he really mean? Does he really know? Does anyone really know? In addition, Guillen's comments offended a Miami-area Cuban-American group to the point of taking action:
A group of Cuban-American demonstrators plans to boycott the Miami Marlins as a result of manager Ozzie Guillen's comment that he respects Fidel Castro.
Vigilia Mambisa, headed by Miguel Saavedra, said it plans to begin a caravan of cars at SW 36th Avenue and 8th Street Tuesday that will culminate in front of the ballpark.
The Marlins had to know they were buying this sort of publicity when they signed Guillén to a four-year, $10 million contract that has almost four years still to run. Supposedly there's no such thing as bad publicity, but one imagines Jeffrey Loria and David Samson don't really want this sort of PR nightmare for their flashy new orange-and-black-clad team, nor are they likely to be real happy about Guillén saying this to CBSSports.com several days ago regarding his post-game routine:
"I get drunk because I'm happy we win or I get drunk because I'm very sad and disturbed because we lose," Guillen said. "Same routine, it never changes. It's been the same routine for 25, 28 years. It doesn't change. I don't like to go out."
In the morning, he said, he may play golf and then get sushi for lunch before going to the ballpark.
"I don't have time," Guillen said. "I've got to be here early, and I go to sleep so drunk that I have to recover in time to go to the park."
Eventually, Ozzie might say something so outrageous that Marlins ownership will have no choice but to fire him and eat whatever money is left on his contract. One week into the 2012 season, Guillén seems to be heading in that direction.