Lest We Forget: Bud Selig And Orioles Owner Peter Angelos Went To A Ball Game With Fidel Castro In 1999

  • Eric Goldschein

There has been an uproar the last few days about Ozzie Guillen’s love and respect for Fidel Castro, a statement of which led to Guillen being suspended five games and could cost him his job. And for good reason — it was an ignorant, offensive statement that no one should take lightly. What, then, do we make of this photo of the MLB commissioner and a team owner taking in an exhibition game with Castro in 1999?

One photograph shows Selig and Orioles owner Pete Angelos sitting in the first row with Fidel during an Orioles exhibition game against Cuban national team. Another photo, seen below, shows them posing harmoniously together with other polite-looking people:

These photos are evidence of a particularly hypocritical stance the MLB front office has taken during the Guillen fallout. Here is part of Selig’s statement regarding the Marlins suspending their manager for five games:

“Major League Baseball supports today’s decision by the Marlins to suspend Ozzie Guillen.  As I have often said, Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities…  Mr. Guillen’s remarks, which were offensive to an important part of the Miami community and others throughout the world, have no place in our game.”

That would be all well and good, if it wasn’t a total farce. As we can see in both photos, Selig does not appear to be lecturing the Cuban leader on the subject of human rights — nor does anyone else, for that matter. If he isn’t saying “I love and respect you,” as he most likely did not, because that would be awkward, his presence sitting field-side next to Fidel does say “I support your administration, and the way you do business.” That’s what sitting next to someone at a baseball game communicates.

That act of “diplomacy” on the MLB’s part took place despite anti-Castro protests as well, and yet Bud Selig and Pete Angelos were not suspended, nor did they face this type of firestorm. At the end of the day, the trip was probably good business for Bud, and he got to party it up legally in Havana for a few days. Guillen’s comments, on the other hand, were bad for business, and so he gets the hammer.

Does Bud’s Cuban vacation mean that Ozzie is off the hook? Of course not. But it highlights a very important hole in the national conscience about the situation in Cuba. Seems we could all stand to take a refresher course on history — especially Bud, who forgot his own past very quickly when it came time to handle business.

h/t Reddit, photos via AP.