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Aug 6 / Elizabeth DiNovella

The Outspoken Ozzie Guillen

White Sox coach Ozzie Guillen got into hot water this week for pointing out the different treatment foreign players receive from Major League Baseball.

“Don’t take this wrong, but they take advantage of us,” Ozzie said on the new reality show The Club. “We bring a Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid (and say), ‘(Bleep) you, you go to the minor leagues, good luck. And it’s always going to be like that. It’s never going to change.”

Ozzie thinks it’s unfair that Major League teams provide translators for Asian players and not Latin players. And former and current players and coaches are lining up in agreement, including Curt Schilling, Bobby Valentine, and Nomar Garciaparra.

“Everybody is [ticked] off at him because he said it,” Atlanta Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez said. “But it’s true.”

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, said he agreed with Ozzie’s comments.

“I think it’s only fair and only reasonable. If Korean, Japanese and Chinese players get a translator, why not for Latin players?” Martinez said. “Something else I have seen is how difficult MLB makes things for kids in the Dominican Republic. If you are 19 or older you don’t get signed anymore.”

These days, MLB acts like any other globalized corporation. Baseball is always in search of cheap labor.

And it’s cheaper to take players from the Dominican Republic than the United States, where they are covered by the national draft, writes Robert Elias in his new book, The Empire Strikes Out.

This search for cheap labor goes beyond the players. Elias writes about Haiti, which used to be one of the main manufacturers of baseballs. Most of the merchandise and apparel for MLB is produced outside the United States, in factories with questionable labor conditions.

Perhaps no region in the world better exemplifies the mingling of baseball, militarism, and corporate globalization than the Caribbean. Some of the best players in the game hail from the site of so many American imperialist adventures, often at the behest of corporate interests.

So it’s not chance that players from the DR are treated shabbily; it’s practically corporate policy.

The White Sox management has distanced itself from Ozzie’s comments. ”The White Sox do not agree with the assumptions Ozzie made in his comments,” a press release stated. ”This is an issue Ozzie Guillen obviously feels very passionately about. Ozzie certainly has his own experiences as a player, coach and manager, and is entitled to his own opinions, but the Chicago White Sox believe his views are incorrect.”

Ozzie Guillen is not known for mincing his words. It’s one of the reasons he’s loved by his fans, myself included. Though he sometimes can go off half-cocked, he’s certainly correct on this issue.

In a recent press conference, Guillen was asked why things had blown up like it had, especially because it was not the first time he has stated those feelings.

”I’m Ozzie Guillen, bro, that’s what it is,” Guillen said. ”Maybe the message was right. The messenger is the wrong one.”

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