Players: Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen; actor Sean Penn
Opening Serve: Guillen's beef with Penn dates back to March of last year, when Penn, during an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, defended controversial Venezuelan president-for-life Hugo Chavez. "Every day this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it and accept it. And this is mainstream media, who should--truly there should be a bar by which they--one goes to prison for these kinds of lies," he told Maher. The outspoken White Sox manager, a native of Venezuela, took offense to Penn's comments and tweeted: "Oh God, you are very crazy. Go and move to our country. You will change your mind," and "Sean Penn defended Chavez is easy when you have money and [don't live] in [our] country shame on you mr penn."
Return Volley: Penn, apparently, did not take Guillan's words to heart, as he had further praise for the Chavez government in a Huffington Post editorial this week. Penn insists the Chavez's dictator reputation is manufactured by the U.S. government and media and amounts to "defamation, not only to President Chavez, but also to the majority of Venezuelan people, poor people who have elected him president time and time again." The actor urges Americans to "call for a moratorium" on the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act which being applied to Venezuela "until such time as a congressional hearing may be convened and strategic benefits evidenced in balance with the historic effects of similar sanctions in other developing and impoverished nations."
It didn't take long for this post to reach Guillen, who gave Penn a piece of his mind, once again, via Twitter. "Sean penn if you love venezuela please move to venezuela for a year," Guillen suggested, early this morning. "But rent a house in guarenas or guatire to see how long you last clown."
What They Say the Fight's About: Penn insists that, despite popular belief, Hugo Chavez is not a dictator and should be taken seriously by the U.S. government as the democratically elected populist president of Venezuela. Guillen, born and raised in Venezuela, begs to differ, arguing that Penn doesn't know what he's talking about and should perhaps spend some time living in the communities surrounding Caracas--one of the most dangerous cities in the world before making such statements.
What the Fight's Really About: Guillen's frustration that Penn, a Hollywood actor born in Santa Monica, California, fancies himself an expert on what the Venezuelan people want, based on his relationship with Hugo Chavez. This is not the first time Penn has been called out by the native of a country on which he has offered an opinion. Penn, who has committed himself to rebuilding Haiti since last year's devastating earth quake, offended native Haitian Wyclef Jean by opposing Jean's presidential run there because he hadn't seen or heard anything about Jean since he'd been there. Jean mocked Penn's comments at a New York reggae concert changing the lyric's to his song, "If I was President," to "I got a message for Sean Penn. Maybe ain't seen me in Haiti because he was too busy sniffing cocaine."
Who's Winning: Though infamously hot tempered, we have to give this one to Ozzie. Penn's global and humanitarian interests are admirable, but when it comes down to it, a native Venezuelan with, we assume family and friends still living there, probably has a keener sense of the national mood than one of Chavez's buddies.