I'm not sure that Ozzie Guillen is the ideal advocate for the rights of young Latino players, his reputation makes it easy to dismiss the substance of what he has to say as simply 'hot air', but the issues he raises, the exploitation of young Latino men , or more accurately boys by the baseball establishment needs to be addressed. Some of the issues he raises:
1.The use of PEDS
"It's somebody behind the scene making money out of those kids and telling them to take something they're not supposed to," he said. "If you tell me, you take this ... you're going to be Vladimir Guerrero, you're going to be Miguel Cabrera, you're going to be this guy ... I'll do it. Because I have seven brothers that sleep in the same room. I have to take care of my mother, my dad. ... Out of this I'm going to make money to make them better."
2. The lack of translator, and furthermore the lack of true support system for all the players who don't reach the major leagues who are left with nothing. This quote refers to his discovery upon visiting his son Olney in A ball that there was no interpreter for the Spanish speaking players. I would add that'd he'd better served tofocus less on accommodations afforded Asian players and more on those not afforded to Latin players, as the bottom line is that they should be in place for foreign born players of all backgrounds.
"Very bad. I say, why do we have Japanese interpreters and we don't have a Spanish one? I always say that. Why do they have that privilege and we don't?" Guillen said. "Don't take this wrong, but they take advantage of us. We bring a Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid ... go to the minor leagues, good luck. Good luck. And it's always going to be like that. It's never going to change. But that's the way it is."
"And we had 17 Latinos and you know who the interpreter was? Oney. Why is that? Because we have Latino coaches? Because here he is? Why? I don't have the answer," Guillen said. "We're in the United States, we don't have to bring any coaches that speak Spanish to help anybody. You choose to come to this country and you better speak English.
I hope that a few other folks join the conversation otherwise it's in danger of being more about Ozzie Guillen than the very real issues at hand, especially when he makes self aggrandizing hyperbole like:
"I'm the only one to teach the Latinos about not to use," he told reporters Sunday. "I'm the only one and Major League Baseball doesn't [care]. All they care about -- how many times I argue with the umpires, what I say to the media. But I'm the only one in baseball to come up to the Latino kids and say not to use this and I don't get any credit for that."
The bottom line is that in a billion dollar industry like major league baseball there should be a better support system for these players, and all for all players who aren't on the receiving end of six and seven figure signing bonuses, but these Latin born players are in a particularly precarious position.