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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Is Contrition Enough for Marlins Manager's Comments on Castro?...

I don't know about you, but when I went to Confession on Saturday, I regretfully repeated many of the same sins that I had confessed to a priest last month.  In fact, many were even repeats from the month before.

Unfortunately, in our human weakness, despite our best intentions to "sin no more" and "avoid the occasion of sin," as we invoke God's grace in the Act of Contrition, we stumble right out of the gate (sort of speak), or better said right out of the confessional and fall into our same sinful patterns. 

Still, no matter what I do (or omit to do), if I wholeheartedly repent and ask for forgiveness, the priest, acting in the person of Christ, forgives my sins; regardless of how many times I keep coming back.

In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew, when Peter asked Jesus if his brother sins against him how many times should he forgive him, seven times?  Christ answers, not seven times but seventy-seven times (i.e. infinitely).      

Ozzie Guillen Apologizes
Fast forward to the latest scandal involving new Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen and his controversial comments to a Time magazine reporter that he "loved and respected" Fidel Castro, the tyrannical Cuban dictator responsible for thousands of deaths, separation of families and repressing opponents with an iron fist (not exactly the best way to endear himself to the Marlins faithful, comprised by a great number of Cuban exiles).  As could be expected, it did not take long to sense the outrage.

Although, he said the comments were taken out of context since he was referring to the fact that he respected that Castro has defied repeated assassination attempts for more than 50 years and was still standing, it did nothing to quell the firestorm of anger brewing within the Cuban exile community and other South Floridians.

During a hastily scheduled press conference on Tuesday, where the manager was flown to Miami in the middle of a team road trip to Philadelphia to address the escalating turmoil, Guillen said apologetically and, at times emotionally, that his comments were "stupid" and moreover said in Spanish, "I ask for forgiveness from the depths of my heart on hands and knees."

Nevertheless, despite his apparent heartfelt apology, the Miami Marlins management suspended the embattled skipper for five games without pay, a week into the start of the baseball season. 

In fact, the thoughtless remarks will cost the Venezuelan-born Guillen about $150,000, which a team source told a local newspaper will be donated to "human rights charities" (whatever that means).  

Of course, for the Marlins this is a public relations fiasco.  They were already under heavy fire for having hoodwinked county and city officials to have local taxpayers cough up most of the money for their brand new retractable roof stadium in Little Havana, despite their finances not being as dire as they made it out to be (although some argue officials knew the Marlins were financially stable but went along with a taxpayer funded stadium anyway). 

Moreover, upon hiring the outspoken, sometimes combative and always foulmouthed manager during the off-season, I knew Guillen was bound to spark controversy, as he had often done while managing the Chicago White Sox, including comments praising Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez several years ago and calling a newspaper columnist a derogatory word against homosexuals, which he later had to apologize for.  The Marlins should have known too.

So now, team officials announce the five game suspension in hopes of appeasing their offended fan base and stop the negative chatter on local talk radio shows. 

However, for at least a portion of exiles, community leaders and fans, the measure is not enough.  They are calling for Guillen's head (ala Herodias, King Herod's lover, who told her daughter, Salome, to ask for John the Baptist's head on a silver platter).

Almost two hundred people picketed outside the stadium and, as they watched the press conference, shouted, "Liar!" "Get rid of him!" and, what may be worse, "Communist!"

The City of Hialeah Council even voted on a resolution demanding his dismissal.

Look, regardless of what he's said in the past, and what he may say in the future (not to mention, the fact that, having lived in Miami for several years, he should know better), to me, Guillen's apology sounded sincere.

Admittedly I am not a Marlins fan, especially after knocking off my favorite team, the New York Mets, from the playoffs on two consecutive years (when they were still relevant), but I'm willing to give the new manager the benefit of the doubt. 

I can't judge his heart and, knowing my own propensity for repeating my transgressions, this may not be his last foot-in-mouth episode (not that I'm saying his comments were a sin but he did hurt many people with them).  But having that said, I hope he has learned a lesson about mixing politics and baseball in South Florida and we, as a community, can forgive and move on.

While, it is apparent that his repentance and apology is not enough for some, as they say in sports, winning heals all wounds.

I'm just glad that when it comes to God, wining is not necessary for forgiveness...

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