Ozzie Guillen interview transcript

The transcript of the interview that Pedro Gomez conducted with Ozzie Guillen concerning the case involving Ugueth Urbina.

Originally Published: December 12, 2005
ESPN

Editor's note: The following is a transcript from the interview ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez conducted with Ozzie Guillen, concerning the attempted murder case involving Ugueth Urbina.

Ozzie Guillen: Few people know Ugie Urbina, the real one, not the one the people read about in the street. I think Ugie's reputation is he overreacts a little, not only in the United States, but also in Venezuela. I'm not saying Ugie's the best kid in the world. But when you know [who] the real Ugie Urbina is, it's kind of touchy. I think this kid's really special. I think Ugie's the kind of guy that when he's your friend, he will take a bullet for you, a real bullet. He's not the type of person that some will take their shirt off for, [but] I think when Ugie feels for somebody, I think he'll do everything for you. I think the reason Ugie is struggling right now is because he's a good friend.

I know a lot of people were involved in this problem. I know a lot of people were doing things and I think he's trying to protect his friends. And that's the reason I tried to talk to him about it. But when I talked to him and talked to people in Venezuela, they have the wrong guy in mind. I know people say Ugie Urbina, wow, he's crazy, he likes to fight, but really inside, you can ask my family, you can ask Bobby Abreu, you can ask my kids, my wife, the real man, who he is, I don't think you're going to find a better friend of who he is.

Pedro Gomez: Why does he have that reputation?
OG: He grew up in that. He grew up in the wrong city. Well, he grew up in the same city I did, but I'm going to say this kid, with the way he grew up, he had to survive, he had to be tough on the streets and he's the kind that won't take anything from anybody. You either hate it or you love it. It's nothing between those two things: you hate it to death or you love it to death.

PG: What are the dangers of being a wealthy major league player in Venezuela?
OG: We have a couple of problems and unfortunately I was part of the problem. My best friend got killed a couple of years ago, like 10 years ago. Gus Polidor got murdered down there. And [Polidor], that's my best friend at that particular time. And all of a sudden another problem and it's being involved with a baseball player. It was Ugie's mom last year. Now, it's my best friend, one of my best friends who is in trouble, but I don't think so. I hear a couple of players say "we're unsecure there." But I don't think so. I hear [Johan] Santana and [Melvin] Mora and a couple of guys. I don't think so. I live in Caracas and I think Caracas is not an easy city to live in, to hang around, but that happens when you have 25 million people like we have in our country. That can happen to anyone. That happens in Brazil, that happens in Panama, that happens in New York and Chicago. That happens because there's a lot of people, a lot of poverty, but, if you see me hanging around Venezuela, you see me driving my own car, you were with me. I always bring my kids in my car and I think you have to know where you're going, what you're doing, who you're hanging around with. But, all the crime, I can only talk about me. I never see any American player, or American people, getting shot or getting murdered. The problem we have is stuff. It's our problem we have, because the country we have, because of what I say, the poverty problem, but like I say, do you need a bodyguard? Some people do, some people don't, but I live in Caracas and I'm not afraid to go into the streets and walk around because I know where I'm going to go and where not, because of where I grew up. I grew up in Caracas. I grew up in bad situations, in bad neighborhoods and not because I grew up there, I'm going to say I'm never going to go back to Caracas. I hear people … from my own country talking about it.

PG: There are five young men who say Ugueth Urbina was behind the attacks on them. How would you describe those charges?
OG: Ask him about it. All of a sudden, there was talk about money. The people were working on Ugie's property. What I know is there was a big fight between them, a huge fight between them. What I know is, I don't think Ugie's a murderer. The people in the United States think Ugie tied these guys up, put gas on them and lit them on fire. No, I know that's not true. These were people who got on fire, but they were fighting, the same people fighting each other. If Ugie was there, I don't know. For real, I don't know. But for some reason, somehow, Ugie is trying to protect some people. Because if you did it, like the people say you did it, you need some help. There's six people, five people involved in this problem. Five victims involved in this problem and I know Ugie's not big enough, or strong enough or man enough to do it by himself. That's one thing I've wondered, why he's trying to protect those people. Those people are not his friends. Uge's friends right now suffer like crazy. I told Ugie, we're your friends. We suffer right now because you have this problem. We had a tough winter last year because of your mom and now we're going to have a tougher winter because of you. I let Ugie know that people like Freddy Garcia, Miguel Cabrera, Henry Blanco, Bobby Abreu, these guys are all family. We really have a tough, tough time to deal with this and we're going to do everything we can -- legally, legally -- to get him out of there. It's up to him how we're going to handle this situation. It's up to him, when he gets out of there, to think about his reputation. Think about what he's done in the past and move on and try to live a better life and not hang around with the wrong people.

PG: What can you guys do?
OG: Beat the [expletive] out of him. We should. It's not easy when you walk over there and talk to him, deal with him and ask him questions. The first time I went over there, I didn't want to ask what's going on. I wanted to say, we're here because we are your friends. ... He don't know how much we're suffering because of him and when people, he thought they were his friends, I don't even think they even care about what he's going through right now. I thought this winter was going to be awesome, you know, Ozzie wins the World Series with the White Sox, [Ugie's] mom's out of problems. I think he built the best looking house in Caracas and all of a sudden everything went south and dropped in one minute. ... But when you create a reputation like he has, it's tough for people to believe he's guilty or not.

PG: You've visited him in jail twice, what's it like?
OG: I'd rather be dead. I know Ugie real well. Ugie's the type of guy who takes three showers a day. You go to Ugie's locker, or Ugie's closet at his house and he's got his pants by colors, his shirts by colors. Ugie's the type of guy, he's always clean. He's got his glasses by colors. I think Ugie's got some little lady inside of him and he's never been married. This guy is so clean. All of a sudden, I think about how Ugie feels being in jail and it made me real sad because I know him real well. We call him Ugie "Coqueto." Coqueto means pretty boy. He's in jail, he doesn't take three showers, he doesn't have cologne. He doesn't get ready to go out at night.

That thing bothers me [though is that] I just went to Puerto Rico to play some golf and I know if Ugie was out, he'd be my partner and that takes a lot of happiness out of my system, because everything we do in the winter, my family and everything, Ugie's name has come up. We go to dinner together, we go to fish together, we go to the bullfights together. We spend so much time together that all of a sudden you go, wow. I'd rather see Ugie dead, because you know you can say, "hey man, you're dead." But knowing he's alive in jail and you're going to have a Christmas party and he's not part of that party. I swear to God, I'd rather be dead than be in jail in Venezuela. Jail in Venezuela is not like jail in the United States. In the U.S., obviously you have the prison, but you have the room by yourself, you eat three times a day. You have your own shower. In Venezuela, you gotta survive, papa. You gotta survive. It's not easy. You're going to see the ugliest thing you've ever seen in your life when you see a jail in Venezuela.

PG: How's he doing?
OG: He's handling it real well. Ugie's a tough man. Ugie's grown up. [Actually], I think there's two Ugies. The guy I know and the guy I don't know. I think he tries to be tough when he's around us, when he talks to us, but I know he's a real fighter. If Ugie has to fight in that jail, I gotta tell you he will kick everybody's butt, if he goes one-by-one. He's the type of kid that he's a real tough man and I think he will handle it the way he's handling it right now. But, I always think, wow, he's a good guy around here right now, about 6 o'clock right now and the dark coming up and the lights going out. I always think about this every day, and it's not easy for us to deal with that. And I know for a fact, I don't care, he's not that tough. He's not that tough.

PG: Given his mother's kidnapping and now this, what has the last 15 months been like for Ugueth Urbina?
OG: I think this kid's got one of the best talents around and has been one of the unluckiest in baseball the last 10 years, because he went through a lot. He went through a lot of surgeries and came back from surgeries. Having his mom, what happened to his mom, being traded when he didn't want to be traded. Have been treated by one team, like when he saved 41 games for them and then not being offered a contract. Been with the championship team with the Marlins, when I was there, and they didn't even care about what he did for them. You create a monster when you start thinking about that, what I did in life to deserve this? And, it's been tough for him, but it's tougher for the people around him. I want to understand that. I know his mother suffers, his brother suffers, Venezuelan people suffer for that. And I know some people like that. I know some people say, "I hope he rots in jail." I don't blame them, but it's been tough for a lot of people, it's tough because he is single, he is rich, he's a good looking man. He's got one of the best houses in baseball. He's got one of the best cars. He's got a great life. A lot of business and he's throwing everything away because of this.

PG: What do you think happened that night?
OG: I think they were drunk. There's no doubt they were drunk. Ugie had come out with his kid and all of a sudden they have a party to welcome him and all of a sudden everybody got drunk and they started to beat the crap out of each other. There's so many versions, there's so many different things, like Ugie came out and started hitting everyone with machetes, he put everybody in line and put everyone on fire. People running around, but I believe him. I don't believe any of the friends [victims]. I believe him because Ugie's not a good actor. Ugie knows who are the people who really feel for him. I told my wife, I don't want to believe, but I do. I do, but don't want to, because the guy, what are you doing? If 100 million people know Ugie and hear these things, we're the only ones who believe him. I ask my family, why do we have to believe in him, because Ugie's our friend or just because I think we believe in him?

If Ugie did [what he's accused of], I really would be disappointed because I don't think people with common sense would do that. But when I speak to him, he tells me, "They was there. The fighting. I wake up. All of a sudden I see this thing. The police come to my house." The good thing about Ugie, this is why I think I believe in him, is that people thought he was going to take a plane and leave. Come to the United States and believe me, I tried to [get him to]. I called him and said get the first plane out of there and we'll take care of that later. He was sitting in his house when police came to his house, he was sitting in his house in a pair of shorts. He walked up, "You're looking for me? I was looking for you guys." He went out and, like nothing. If you feel guilty and you know you did this, I would leave Venezuela the quickest I can and live in another country, live in Mexico for the next three or four years until everything calms down. That's why I believe ... he had something to do with this. I'm not saying he's not guilty, but he not did it by himself. It was a fight. He was not the guy who grabbed the machete and was charging people, because it takes more than one guy to do that and what he told me, it was a fight. I believe him. I don't want to believe him, but I do. Because he put me on the spot, like those people have families also. And I believe because my friend is not guilty? That's not fair. How about my kid, how about my brother? You just think about the victims. And that's what I told my wife, what I told my family. I don't think he did it. I want really to believe that. The way he talked to me, I really believe he was involved, but it's not like what the people say. You read the paper and it's like, wow. He tied the people up, asked the people for gas and he walked away. Ugie's not that bad. He's not a bad person.

PG: What do you think would be justice in this case?
OG: I want to have the best justice. It's not because money's involved and people are involved. I want the judge and the people to be fair with the families. I want people to be fair with Ugie, and I pray that he tells us the truth because I really would be disappointed if he wasn't truthful. That means you lie to your own friends. We really are his real friends, not the people he's hanging around drinking with. We are the real friends. The ones who worry about him and think about him every day. We will do everything in our power, not to protect him, because that's not fair, not right to protect somebody who is guilty. To do everything and tell the truth and tell the truth to everyone.

PG: What are the chances that Ugueth Urbina will pitch in the major leagues again?
OG: I don't know, because now I'm on the other side of the ring, I'm managing right now. But in this game, a lot of people kill, a lot of people gamble, a lot of people get caught doing drugs, a lot of people get caught beating their wives. A lot of people get caught doing a lot of mistakes. And they have another chance. Just because Ugie fights with somebody out of the U.S., it's different in Venezuela. They don't know how tough Venezuela is, how difficult it is to live in a country going through a lot of difficult situations right now. There's no doubt in my mind he should get another chance, get another shot to perform and help somebody win some games.

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