April 10th, 2012
12:34 PM ET

Marlins suspend manager Guillen for 5 games; he apologizes for Castro comments

The Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games, effective immediately, on Tuesday, just before Guillen apologized for recent comments praising Cuba's Fidel Castro.

Guillen sparked a firestorm when he told Time magazine recently that he respected  Castro for being able to lead Cuba for six decades.

"I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen said in the article. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there."

Guillen apologized during a press conference Tuesday, first speaking in Spanish, saying that he had "betrayed a Latin community" and that he was speaking to "ask for forgiveness with my heart in my hand."

But, he said, he originally spoke of Castro in Spanish and "the translation to English was a bit confusing."

In response to questions in English on Tuesday, Guillen said he was "very stupid" to make comments outside of baseball.

"Politics has nothing to do with sports," Guillen said.

"This is the biggest mistake so far in my life," he said.

Guillen said with the comments he'd let down the community.

"I'm very, very, very sorry," he said. "I will do everything in my power to make it better."

"I live in Miami, my family is in Miami," he said. "I will do everything in my power ... to help this community like I always do."

"I'm sitting here very embarrassed and very sad," he said at the press conference.

"I'm gonna be a Miami guy for the rest of my life," Guillen said. "I want to walk in the street with my head up and not feel as bad as I feel right now."

Guillen pledged to follow through on his promises to help out in Miami's Latin and Cuban communities.

"I'm going to be behind them 100%," he said.

He said he wanted to be with the team, which plays in Philadelphia again on Wednesday, but would not fight the suspension.

"I cannot complain about anything because I am not in a position to complain about anything they want to do with me," he said.

Guillen said he showed poor judgement, but not lack of intelligence, with the original Castro comments.

"You don't have this job if you're dumb," he said. "If I don't learn from this, I will call myself dumb."

The team said Tuesday the original comments were hurtful.

"The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship," the team said in a statement before Guillen's press conference.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said the suspension of Guillen was appropriate.

"I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve.  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," Selig said in a statement.

Guillen earlier in the week said he had apologized to Cuban-Americans in the Marlins organization, including Spanish-language broadcasters Felo Ramirez and Yiki Quintana, as well as Cuban-born Phillies pitcher Jose Contreras, ESPN reported.

The Marlins released a statement saying there was nothing to respect about Castro, "a brutal dictator who has caused unthinkable pain for more than 50 years. We live in a community filled with victims of this dictatorship, and the people in Cuba continue to suffer today."

Guillen backtracked on Sunday and apologized to anyone he offended with the Castro remark, telling the Palm Beach Post that he is "against everything, 100%," regarding Castro's reign in Cuba.

Elaborating on his use of the term, "respect," he said, "I respect (President) Obama, I respect (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez because I always respect people."
Perhaps lost in the controversy were Guillen's remarks late last week that for a quarter century or more he has gotten drunk and gone to sleep after every game.

"I've got my routine. Game's over, stay in the lobby of the hotel, the hotel bar, get drunk and go to sleep," he told the Palm Beach Post.

"I get drunk because I'm happy because we won or get drunk because I'm very sad and disturbed because we lose. Same routine for 25, 28 years. It hasn't changed. I don't like to go out."

Guillen was named the Marlins manager on September 28. He previously managed the Chicago White Sox for eight years, including leading them to the 2005 World Series title.

He is a native of Venezuela and became a U.S. citizen in 2006.

soundoff (2,195 Responses)
  1. SPW

    He shouldn't have apologized for his remarks.

    This is just a clear example of people being too politically correct, his statement wasn't all that bad.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • ConnectdaDot

      You are correct...But the Miami Marlins are smar businessmen to suspend him to appease the community. He was being interviewed as Manager of the Miami Marlins. If he were the Manager of Seattle, it would not affect the community as much.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mamo

      This isn't a freedom of speech issue, because the government hasn't created a law that prevents him from giving his opinion. Rather this is an employer chastising their employee for making a comment that hurts the business. Its about money...nothing more. Not politics, not the feelings of Cuban Americans, not pro-Castro comments....none of it. Its all about the cash.

      And why is it, everything I own is made in Communist China, but I can't buy Cuban cigars? REALLY!?!?!?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      While I agree with you I am pretty sure that his employer told him to apologise or start looking for another job. Ozzie showed bad judgement by even opening his mouth no matter what his opinion is. But that is Ozzie. He has a reputation for saying things to get media attention and create a buzz around him.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Antonio Rivera

      Why would CNN stop a live feed of the apology by Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen simply because he was speaking in Spanish and CNN did not have a translator on standby? I understand most viewers are English speaking only, however, what about the many Latin speaking viewers that are “glue” to the TV sets as the speech is being broadcast live and CNN stops it because its in Spanish. The apology should still be broadcast regardless of what is the language being spoken! It still is big news especially to the Latin community isn’t? I believe that CNN demonstrated a lack of respect to the Latin community in the US when they stopped the live fee and then continued it when Mr. Guillen spoke in English.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Guillen

      They would kick him out for good... Miami cubans care more for the fight with Cuba than for the rest of the USA...

      April 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ConnectdaDot

    I like Castro and Hugo, but if I was a business owner in Miami, I would not want my employees who represent my company speaking anything good about Castro, especially if I have a business in Little Havanna, Miami, FL. Not smart Guillen.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Phil Spectre

    Remember a few years ago when Fidel Castro face planted into some chairs after a speech? Man, that was funny.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Doc Deb

    So there is no longer freedom of speech in the USA? Wow. The repubs have really taken over Texas and Florida.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • ConnectdaDot

      He still has freedom of Speech, he is not in jail. The Marlins were smart in suspending him. He would not have been interviewed if he was not he Manager of the Miami Marlins, who reside in Miami, FL, in little Havana, which is where may exiled Cubans that "claim" their were forced to leave Cuba. I like Castro and Hugo, don't agree with all of their ways, but I like them.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I am not sure how this has become a republican thing..lol This was a business decision...

      April 10, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • montyross

      the apology was in spanish so yes he has freedom of speech if repubs were truly in charge they would have made him speak english.........

      April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Pretty sure both parties screwed us. Stop trying to scapegoat one group of idiots when there are two groups of idiots behind everything.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ehomer

      You are right & it is frightening. Not that it matters, but what he said wasn't even "pro" Castro – it was just a comment on the reality that his history is impressive.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Larry

    Ozzie comments indicate he respected Castro's staying power and ability to avoid assassination. He did not say "hey, the guy is great with people!"

    April 10, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. TM

    what ever happened to "free speech"?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • tostonesfix

      "Free Speech"?? He wasn't arrested. He was suspended by his employer. It has nothing to do with Free Speech. It has everything to do with an insensitive idiot popping off his mouth and potentially damaging his employer. I'd be surprised if he lasts through the season.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. thomasrial

    Wow. Anti-Castro Cuban Americans don't believe in free speech or democracy. I know one thing. I don't respect them.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • ConnectdaDot

      Guillen has Free Speech, Cubans living in Little Havana have free speech to say they will not support or endorse the Miami Marlins if Guillen is not punished for his words. No politial correctness here, just smart business practice.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. hanelaine

    We may not agree with what he said, but if I remember correctly, we have freedom of speech in this country. If he wants to withstand the backlash by the large Cuban community there, that's his business. If the Marlins suffer economically from this, then he should be let go for doing injury to those for whom he works. But he should not apologize for speaking his mind. This is USA, not China. You don't have to agree with him, but you have to let him speak.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • $$$

      He was let go by the management – for 5 games. Duh?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    I'm no fan of Castro, but to pretend that our embargo, which very Americans even remember why it is in place, has nothing to do with the suffering in that country is pretty rich.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. kc

    The man is right! Cuba has done just fine with Fidel, free health care, education for all. More then i can say for the US and their phoney freedom of speech! Apparently you can say what you want except in support of people the US hate. However the country breeds hatred!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carl47

      So why don't you leave

      April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • dallas

      all he pointed out was that Cubans have done the best for cubans under the embargo, why should he move

      April 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jason

    Castro is a d-bag but don't we have something called freedom of speech or can that right be bullied from us? Make note Guillen is a jack off

    April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. FreeSpeech

    What the Hell !!! These people come here and want to take away another person's Freedom of Speech !!!!!!!! He has a RIGHT to say whatever he WANTS...This is why Castro KICKED these SPANIARDS out of CUBA ...KRAZY CUBANS... Trust me my MOM's Family is from Panama and we have CUBANS in out family ... CUBANS, the ZEALOTS of Latin America

    OZZIE DO NOT APOLOGIZE !!!! It is your RIGHT, you did NOT THREATEN anyone, Curse, etc etc !!!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carl47

      Go back to Cuba

      April 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • ajtoos

      You are correct. He cannot be forced by the threat of death, imprisonment, or any other removal of liberties to apologize. For the same reason the Marlins cannot be forced to continue to employ someone who they feel is not representing their organization to their liking. Period. He apologized because he values his job more than his statement. Period. There is no first amendment issue in this case as the government is not censoring anything. Period.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. OSA6311

    Not agreeing with someone's opinion/ statement should NOT be grounds for suspension. What's the point of free speech if we are going to punish everyone who has something to say that may be offensive to another! RIDICULOUS!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • ragelib

      "We" did not punish him. The Marlins, a "private" organization separate from everything else suspended him.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      I know! Those darn Capitalists are so un-American!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. montyross

    We are always taught not give in to peer pressure yet as adults we are extorted to say the right things whether conservative or liberal....

    April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. lofsjim

    so much for free speech...just like all of the movies of the future portend..speak outside the mainstream and you are a menace to society...after visiting Miami a couple of times I'm surprised anybody understood what he said since he spoke it in English

    April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • giggity

      he got a suspension and major DB Rush Limbaugh still barking. Way to go

      April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • bignevermo

      thats so true lofsjim...and i live in Miami... he didnt say anything wrong! hell he manages a baseball team for cripes sake! whats that to do with Castro...the Cubans dont want to hear anything that is not derogitory about Castro...but Ozzie is right...Castro HAS lasted this long..what did he say that was worthy of a suspension??? hijole!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • East of Eden

      lol, many living on the pocket of Jane and John Taxpayer.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • drewrey88

      The 1st ammendment protects you from government persecution, not persecution of your peers or employers.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • EatYouAlive

      Marlins are a private company dummy.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Akim

      Well said ... couldn't be agreed more ....

      April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumguy

      It's called an employment contract.
      He's the face and mouth of the company. The company has every right to require him to avoid publicly damaging statements.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
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