The Miami Marlins returned to Little Havana Friday night for their first home game since manager Ozzie Guillen's infamous and inflammatory Fidel Castro comments.
They played before a modest crowd, and fans did not demonstrate against Guillen, who is in the middle of a five-game suspension. But they did have plenty of opinions on the controversial manager.
"This is the United States, and freedom of speech is what our Constitution says, and people make mistakes,” said one. “He has a great career in baseball and we should respect him, and we’re going to win the championship.”
"What he said was pretty ignorant,” said another, Alex Limia. “I mean, he knows the people in this community are Cuban, especially the old-timers.”
One father and son even tried to profit from the Guillen fallout, hawking “¡Cuba Si, Ozzie No!” T-shirts.
An interview published on Time Magazine's website this week quoted Guillen 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” he is still alive.
With the four words “I love Fidel Castro,” Guillen created a PR mess for the Marlins. The Cuban-American community was not amused, with some threatening to boycott the team unless Guillen was let go.
Guillen was suspended, flying home on Tuesday to publically apologize to many people, from Cuban-Americans to his players and the Marlins organization to “everyone in Latin America.”
He said his comments were misinterpreted but also called them “the biggest mistake in my life.”
Limia, who is a young Cuban-American, says there will likely be a generational divide in accepting Guillen’s apology.
"The people who were born in Cuba and went through that, they’ll probably be a little angry, but people, especially my generation, it’s too fast-paced, the world is too fast-paced,” he said. “They get involved maybe one or two weeks when a story comes out and then all of a sudden they’ll forget.”
Meantime, an older fan pledged, “We’ll never forget. They won’t forget.”
Some fans offered advice for the Marlins manager who seems to constantly make headlines out of the dugout.
“Stick to baseball. He can’t go wrong with baseball,” Andy Garcia said. “He can be a loose cannon as much as he wants on the field, just keep off-the-field stuff to himself. That’s it.”