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Question of the Day
MIAMI (AP) - The lingering backlash caused by Ozzie Guillen’s praise of Fidel Castro contributed to another Miami Marlins managerial shakeup Tuesday.
Guillen was fired after only one year with the team, undone by too many losses and one too many ill-advised remarks.
A promising season began to derail in April with his laudatory comments about Cuba’s former leader. Six months later, the episode was a factor in the decision to fire Guillen, Marlins officials said.
“Let’s face it. It was not a positive for the team; it was not a positive for Ozzie,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “It was a disappointment, no doubt about it.”
A lousy team didn’t help, either. The Marlins took high hopes into their new ballpark following an offseason spending spree but finished last in the NL East at 69-93, their worst record since 1999.
Miami’s next manager will be the fifth for owner Jeffrey Loria since early 2010. The latest change comes even though Marlins still owe Guillen $7.5 million for the three years remaining on his contract.
“We all felt we had a pretty good ballclub coming out of spring training, and we just didn’t play well,” Beinfest said. “We all share in this. This is not a fun day for me, certainly not for Ozzie or Jeffrey or anybody involved. This is an organizational failure. But we felt like we needed to make this change so we could move forward.”
There had speculation that Beinfest’s job might also be in jeopardy, but he’ll continue in his current role. The search for a new manager has just begun, he said.
“We could definitely use some stability in the dugout,” said Beinfest, who has been with the Marlins since Loria bought the team in 2002. “We’re looking for a winner. At times we’ve done a better job of identifying that individual. Other times we haven’t. We’re going to try to find the right guy this time.”
On Twitter, Guillen said the firing left him with “my head held up high, real high.”
“To the fans that support me and for those who are happy as well my love and respect to you,” Guillen tweeted. “In life there are worse things and I have experienced them. I have lived through bad moments and I will get through this with support.”
In spring training, Guillen touted his team as well balanced and ready to win. But a dismal June took the Marlins out of contention for good, and management dismantled the roster in July.
The season went sour from the start. Guillen’s comments praising Castro in a magazine interview angered Cuban Americans, who make up a large segment of the Marlins’ fan base. The Venezuelan manager apologized repeatedly at a news conference for his remarks, then began serving a five-game suspension only five games into his stay with the team.
“That was a very, very hard situation for me and the people around me,” Guillen said in September. “It was maybe the worst thing I ever did.”
Marlins officials believe the damage was lasting. They blame disappointing attendance at the new ballpark in part over lingering fan resentment about the Castro comments.
By Michael P. Orsi
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