By Scott Barzilla

My colleague Rob Kelley has already levied his opinion on the Ozzie Guillen controversy. People all over the internet yesterday and today have called for the Marlins to fire Guillen, suspend Guillen, or send him to sensitivity training. Yet, I haven’t seen anyone yet ask the most obvious question: why did the Marlins hire Guillen in the first place? It seems to me they were so hot to trot to bring him in that they skipped over the interview process. There’s a reason why that is a part of the hiring process you know.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that an organization has made an epic hiring gaffe. The Red Sox hadn’t even made it out of Spring Training before Red Sox Nation was beginning to question the hiring of Bobby Valentine. Two high profile blown saves in the first three games didn’t help his situation much either. Still, a group of people sat down in a room with the man, peppered him with questions, and then decided he was the man for the job. I know, I know, unbelievable isn’t it.

Naturally, the Marlins didn’t need to interview Guillen to know that he is outspoken. All they needed to do was pay attention and they would already know that he has gotten in hot water for his inability to filter his thoughts. Still, an interview might have given them some insight into how he might have handled the team’s most influential subgroup of fans. They did build the ballpark in Little Havana you know.

The organization has apparently decided to suspend Guillen if for no reason than as an appeasement to the Cuban community. A small part of me feels sorry for Guillen as he obviously meant no harm and anyone that knows him knows he is a good guy at heart. The other part of me is wondering how Fidel Castro would even enter into a conversation. Like Marge Schott before him, Guillen learned the valuable lesson that there are some topics in society where you simply can’t win. Was he misinterpreted because of a language barrier as he claimed? I’m sure that’s a decent explanation, but he simply can’t explain why he brought up Castro in the first place.

One of the things I have come to understand is that an interview is as much about you interviewing them as them interviewing you. Guillen needs to run his mouth to be an effective manager. He keeps his teams loose and he keeps the heat on him and off of them. There is something to be said for that, but there are some communities where that simply will not work. The aforementioned Valentine would not work in a lot of markets for the same reason. Both of those managers are at the point of their careers where they can afford to be as choosy as the teams looking to hire them. Ozzie would have had the opportunity to see how uptight the Marlins were or he could have been given fair warning that there were some segments of the fan base that were sensitive.

In a past life, I used to be a coach. I was a head varsity coach and as such was subject to questions that an assistant would never get. I was a varsity coach in two locations. One of them was a perfect fit while the other was anything but. I was the same person, but that didn’t work in both locations. People on the outside felt I was successful in both. I’d like to think I was a good coach in that manner. On the inside, there were very different feelings all the way around.  No matter what level of coaching you are talking about, the same man or woman can be very successful in one place and an absolute failure somewhere else.

That’s because coaching is very rarely about the Xs and Os. Coaching is about human relationships and getting athletes to buy into what you are selling. When you get buy in you are successful. When you don’t get buy in you are miserable. Every situation is different so you can’t take an Ozzie Guillen and assume he will be successful everywhere. There may not be a single coach in any sport that would be successful in any situation. So, put this one on the Marlins. They assumed Guillen would be fine and now they are shocked when something controversial happened. If only there was evidence of him being controversial before. Oops.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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