Ozzie Guillen should not be allowed anywhere near the civilized world, much less behind an open microphone on a global television network. Yet ESPN, which likes to trumpet itself as a progressive company that champions correct causes, has hired a racist, sexist, homophobic creep as part of its “Baseball Tonight’’ lineup this season.
ESPN is the company that supports the advances of women in sports. Yet it ignores how Guillen routinely has referred to women as “bitches’’ and “c—-s’’ when in the company of usually fawning media when he played for and managed the Chicago White Sox. Once, when a female TV reporter walked by, Guillen announced, “I’d like to (bleep) her.’’ ESPN hired him anyway.
ESPN is the company that has devoted important journalism to the landmark decisions of Jason Collins and Michael Sam, the first two openly gay players in America’s major sports leagues. Yet it ignores how Guillen referred to a Chicago sports columnist — me — as a “(bleeping) fag.’’ Guillen often used that slur toward people, always in a hurtful context. ESPN hired him anyway.
ESPN is the company that launched ESPN Deportes as a way of reaching Hispanic-speaking audiences. Yet it ignores how Guillen, in his brief time managing the Miami Marlins, was suspended by the team after saying this of a certain despised Cuban leader to Time magazine: “I love Fidel Castro. … I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mofo is still here.” With that blunder, which ultimately led to his firing and the dismantling of a high-priced team in a publicly financed stadium, Guillen may have single-voicedly ruined major-league baseball in south Florida. ESPN hired him anyway, to do the studio show and work as an analyst for … ESPN Deportes.
As someone who worked at ESPN for eight years and knows how the place operates, I have told the company president that I intend to comment on the network when necessary on this site. Sadly, pathetically, the frequency of that necessity is constant. It’s a shame the network has no competition — there are cable-access channels in far-flung Wyoming counties with higher audiences than a flopping Fox Sports 1 — yet that is no excuse for ESPN to plunge so regularly into flagrant hypocrisy.
I give the Blizzard of Oz a month before his first screwup. When it happens, he is not the only one who should be fired.