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Guillen proves politics, sports don't mix

April 10, 2012|By Matt Lindner, For RedEye

Let's get something out of the way real quick—sports, in the grand scheme of things, do not matter.

They're a welcome diversion from life's trials and tribulations, sure. But while you might think your life would change forever if the Cubs were to win the World Series tomorrow, it wouldn't. You wouldn't suddenly be better-looking, better at your job or have fewer bills to pay. You'd simply be happy for a couple of days.

Which brings us to the topic du jour of the sports world: Ozzie Guillen, a prominent figure in the world of sports (which—again—don't matter) praised a controversial dictator who's ruined the lives of generations of Cubans (which does very much matter). Opening his mouth and saying something incredibly stupid got him suspended five games. Given Miamians' feelings for Fidel Castro, he should consider himself lucky it didn't get him fired.

The fact that Ozzie got himself in trouble for something that came out of his mouth should surprise nobody.

The thing is, Ozzie's usually smart enough to save the really good stuff for when he's off the record. If he would've stopped at the story about getting drunk at the hotel bar every night, we would have rolled our eyes, enjoyed a haughty laugh and said "Oh that wacky Ozzie …" as we've done thousands of times prior.

This was different.

In sports, as in everyday life, when you offer your unsolicited opinion on politics in a forum it doesn't belong in, you're bound to rub people the wrong way. Especially if you're talking about how you admire one of the most awful human beings alive when you work in the very place he is reviled most.

Guillen isn't the first jock to stir up some controversy with his political and sociological observations. But maybe he should serve as a case study for any athlete or coach with a strong political bent that he feels needs to be voiced.

Ozzie said he's really sorry this time and that Tuesday's new conference will be the last time he ever talks politics.

For once, let's hope other sports figures follow his lead.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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