[Miami, FL] With a new name, new manager, new uniforms and a new stadium, this was supposed to be the start of something big for the Miami Marlins (formerly the Florida Marlins), South Florida’s Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
Instead, thanks to several high-profile miss-steps, the Marlins have become the kings of controversy. Now, Florida’s only team to win a World Series title is spinning stories and apologizing for blunders when it should be focused on hitting homers and winning games.
Less than a week into the 2012 campaign, the new-look Marlins have been embroiled in, not one, but two major dust-ups: an opening-day debacle featuring one of America’s most-beloved athletes and the ongoing saga of the Marlins manager.
On Wednesday night, it what was supposed to be a joyous occasion all around with the all-new Marlins playing their first home game of the regular season in their new stadium, Marlins Park. The place was rocking and a buzzing crowd was wondering what celeb would be trotted out to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Instead, a great quiet took over the sparkling-new facility when it was revealed that the – surprise – first pitch thrower would be Muhammad Ali, who was slowly wheeled into position in a wheelchair. The whole thing took five minutes.
The great quiet was equal parts shock at seeing THE MAN, and the stunningly sad sight of the myth-shattering reality of THE MAN – a frail 70-year-old sports legend beaten down by Parkinson’s Disease. It was a party-vibe killer for sure.
Then on Saturday, Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen apologized for his comments about Fidel Castro - positive comments about Fidel Castro – to Time magazine earlier in the week. Yeah, Fidel Castro … Miami … you do the math. Way to endear yourself to the Cuban fans there Ozzie.
Guillen said he loves Castro and respects him. Them’s fightin’ words ’round here.
What’s next, are you going to bite the head off of a dove? Wrong Ozzy.
In fact, Guillen’s in-Fidel-ity is not the first time he has said something controversial about an Enemy of the State. In 2005 while manager of the Chicago White Sox, he appeared on the radio show of one Hugo Chavez – yes, the President of Venezuela – and later professed his admiration for the man.
“Not too many people like the president. I do. My mom will kill me, but it’s an honor to talk to the president,” said Guillen, who is Venezuelan and the first Latino manager to win a World Series.
Smart mom, should have listened to her Ozzie. Now Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments.
The Miami Marlins are 2-3 on the season so far. They face the Phillies on Wednesday.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Lead image: Keith Allison (inset photo: Miami Marlins)