A “very embarrassed” Ozzie Guillen apologizes for “betraying the Latin community”

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Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, minutes after his five-game suspension was handed down, faced the media and the music in the wake of his comments about Fidel Castro.

Guillen began the press conference speaking in Spanish, clearly aware of the audience most critical of his comments.  His eyes were red, and on occasion watery. He choked up while speaking. He looks like a man who hasn’t slept well.

The following summary of his comments come courtesy of Bob Nightengale of USA Today who translated Guillen’s comments and tweeted them:

He said he was sorry he hurt the city and the community. He said it was not intentional but that he did it and that he would like to apologize. He said he felt like he “betrayed the Latin community” and that he was there to say he was sorry with his “heart in his hands.”  he says he is embarrassed and that the past few days have been hard on him and his family. He said he’s “I’m here on my knees apologizing to all communities.”

When asked if he really loves Fidel Castro, he said that his answer was misinterpreted when he spoke to Time magazine. He says he meant to say that he was surprised that Castro stayed in power so long, not that he loved or respected him for it.

When asked if his suspension was fair, he said “I can’t control that,” and that he respects the situation and can’t complain about it because he’s not in any position to complain.  He said that he was sad he couldn’t be with the team right now, because the team is playing well.

When asked if he could repair relations with the Cuban community in Miami, he said “I am willing to do everything in my power to help the community,” and that he planned on being in Miami for a long time. He later added that this was not a one-moment-in-time kind of apology. He would not forget it, and that he would show through his actions that he is sincerely sorry.

He later said “I let the ballclub down.” He said he was hired to manage, not talk about politics. He will address his team in Philadelphia tomorrow prior to his suspension kicking in.

*Screen capture of Guillen from WSVN, Channel 7, Miami’s live stream of the press conference.

Andrelton Simmons is absolutely freaking ridiculous

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I’ve been watching Andrelton Simmons play shortstop since he came up with the Braves back in 2012. From the moment he burst onto the scene it was clear that he was an otherworldly defensive talent. His arm was incredible. His range was astonishing. His sense of where he was on the field and his instincts about what to do with the ball were unmatched.

I’ll admit, however, that I’ve seen him less in the past couple of seasons than I used to. It’s understandable: he no longer plays for my favorite team and he now plays most of his games after old men like me go to bed back east. The numbers have shown that he’s still the best defensive shortstop around and the highlights which get circulated are still astounding, but I’ve not appreciated him on a day-to-day level like I once did.

But that just makes me more grateful for the highlights when I miss him in action. Like this one, from last night’s game against the Astros. You can see it in high resolution here, but if you can’t click over there, here’s the play as it was tweeted around:

I didn’t see last night’s game, but my friend Dan Lewis tweeted this out a bit. His observations about it in this thread explain why what Simmons is doing here is so amazing:

The lay-outs, the bobble-saves, the jump-throws and all of that spectacular stuff are understandably appreciated, but the various skills Simmons displayed in just this one play — not to mention the freakin’ hustle he displays backing up third base after it all — is just astounding.

There hasn’t been one like him for a while. We should all appreciate him while he’s still in his prime.

The Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager

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Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend that the Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager. Part of that comes after team meetings between Snitker and top brass. Some of it, however, is likely attributable to player sentiment, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting this morning that Freddie Freeman and several Braves players have told the Braves front office that they want Snitker back.

Is it a good idea to bring Snitker back? Eh, I’m leaning no, with the caveat that it probably doesn’t make a huge difference in the short term.

The “no” is based mostly on the fact that Snitker has had a disturbing trend of preferring veterans over young players, as Bradley explains in detail here. For a brief moment this summer the Braves seemed surprisingly competitive. Not truly competitive if anyone was being honest, but they were hovering around .500 and were arguably in the wild card race. Around that time he made a number of questionable decisions that favored marginal and/or injured veterans over some young players who will be a part of the next truly competitive Braves team, likely messing with their confidence and possibly messing with their development.

These moves were not damaging, ultimately, to the 2017 Braves on the field — they were going to be under .500 regardless — but it was the sort of short-term thinking that a manager for a rebuilding team should not be employing. Part of the blame for this, by the way, can be put on the front office, who only gave Snitker a one-year contract when they made him the permanent manager last year, creating an incentive for him to win in 2017 rather than manage the club the way a guy who knows when the team will truly be competitive should manage it. Then again, if Snitker was so great a candidate in the front office’s mind, why did they only give him a one-year contract?

I suspect a lot of it has to do with loyalty. Snitker has been an admirable Braves company man for decades, and that was certainly worthy of respect by the club. That he got the gig was likewise due in part to the players liking him — the veteran players — and they now are weighing in with their support once again. At some point, however, loyalty and respect of veterans has to take a back seat to a determination of who is the best person to bring the team from rebuilding to competitiveness, and Snitker has not made the case why he is that man.

Earlier, of course, I said it probably doesn’t matter all that much if they do, in fact, bring Snitker back. I say this because he will, in all likelihood, be given a short leash again, probably in the form of a one-year extension. It would not surprise me at all if, in the extraordinarily likely event the Braves look to be outclassed in the division by the Nationals again in 2018, they made a managerial switch midseason, as they did in 2016. If that is, indeed, the plan, it seems like the front office is almost planning on losing again in 2018 and using the future firing of Snitker as a time-buying exercise. Not that I’m cynical or anything.

Either way, I don’t think Snitker is the right guy for the job. Seems, though, that he’ll get at least an offseason and a couple of months to prove me wrong.