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Ozzie apologizing for being his usual unapologetic self will be must-see TV

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist

Guillen will try to talk his way out of the corner he backed into with his Castro remarks. (Getty Images)  
Guillen will try to talk his way out of the corner he backed into with his Castro remarks. (Getty Images)  

Ozzie Guillen has a tough face, which is why he can lead with it so often and still walk away unaided.

But his soliloquies on Fidel Castro have hit the third rail of a fan base that didn't even know it was the Marlins' fan base -- the Cuban expatriates for whom Castro in any context is the toaster in the tub.

Guillen does know that much, which is why he has gone to the length of returning to Miami to address his address -- not with a statement, which he is correct is cowardly, but with his own words, which may be downright crazy.

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There is no way for him to back out of this cul-de-sac, really, except to throw himself on the mercy of the not-very-merciful court.

I mean, when he said he admired Castro for still being alive after 60 years, there is at least some historical reason to say so -- his life has been threatened enough times. But "admire" probably isn't the verb he wanted to employ.

As he now knows, though, even that's not the point. Saying the name is crime enough, just as saying the name Tim Tebow can be crime enough if the reference is not sufficiently positive. This is what comes of a Google-search world in which nuance and context don't really matter; orthodoxy must be adhered to, or shouting will result.

Frankly, Guillen's performance Tuesday will be a fascinating one, because his reputation has been made largely by saying what comes to him at the moment and him refusing to edit himself afterward. It is his sword and shield, his method and his modus operandi.

And unlike Chicago, where that World Series in 2005 allowed him the luxury of Ozzie-Being-Ozzie, this is a different town, with different touch-buttons. This is the 500th time he has said something with complete confidence in his right and ability to say it, and the first time when the pushback scared him.

He couldn't even front this off as the media misplaying his remarks, even though he tried. This was him, hitting the wrongest note possible, and feeling the full heat of the backlash.

Or, just as possible, this is his employer, Jeff Loria, and his right-hand man, David Samson, feeling the heat and telling Guillen to douse the fire he just started.

Can he save himself? Yeah, probably. The difference between the group of people who snap to anger immediately is always much larger than the group of people who never let it go. Most folks want the apology and the perp walk to call it square, and Guillen is offering them that.

But for the first time in his public career, Guillen has found a topic he couldn't beat back down, a group of the offended he couldn't chastise into submission. He finally hit a trip-wire so sensitive that it couldn't be fronted off with a cheerful, "That's who I am and if you don't like it, tough darts, Cookie."

To watch him fly to Miami to walk backwards will be a moment to remember, that much is sure. And even if the Marlins don't feel much pain at the gate (it is hard to know who their fan base actually is, to be honest), they now know that being ignored isn't the worst thing that can happen.

Being noticed by the angry and unforgiving is. And nobody has the face for that.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast Sports Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com)


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