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. Kristal

    insensitive moron ozzie think b4 u open that stupid mouth

    April 10, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. Alain Ciphat

    I just want to see him fired so that the Braves can have a chance to finish next to last in their division. Just so that you Cubans know, I'm being sarcastic. This is ridiculous. Viva la Revolution!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. really?

    it's clear the comments were a joke. i mean it's ozzie man, he jokes all day. i mean i hate baseball but ozzie is a good man!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Calle Ocho

    It's no longer about being PC. Everyone has such a short fuse these days and wants to be a victim, anything can trigger a reaction, whether it's PC or not. Look all 'round these days – hysteria just beacons at the slightest provocation. Even so many of these posts show how ugly we can be, and we surely exercise that right. Sure, there is a lot of historical baggage everywhere, but let's not be hostage to it.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Matthew from Orange, Ca

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
    –Abraham Lincoln

    April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. rhobere

    That seems like a stupid thing to get suspended over. I mean, he has a point. Anyone that can run a communist country a couple hundred miles away from the self-proclaimed commy-cops and NOT get yourself killed for 60 years deserves some admiration in that one regard. you don't have to like the guy and you definitely don't have to support the guy to make an observation about his ability to stay alive.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      Exactly the point I've been making, rhobere. Well said. But in our new PC society, everyone wants to be a victim and gets some kind of thrill over being able to harm someone else over some falsely perceived harm to themself.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. US Voter

    So much for free speach! I guess you are only allowed to say what others agree with.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. achepotle

    What a Nazi country..you aren't allowed to visit beautiful Cuba and you can't even pay respect to the hero who won it back for the people...y'all should move to Canada.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    So it has come to this: if you happen have an opinion that isn't popular, you get penalized (even if what you say is true).

    It's nice to see that freedom of speech is alive and well in the good old U.S. of A. hahaha

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

    Yeah, well if you compare Castro to Batista, Castro does come out looking like an angel. Many americans do not know about Fulgencio Batista, the dictator Castro fought against, why the Cuban people followed him into revolution against Batista. Its a lack of education. Cubans are much better off now, than they were under Batista. Granted, they do not have civil rights, but then under Batista they did not have that, or education, of health care, or where starving, that is unless you were in the inner circle of the dictatorship.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      Medallon you are absolutely right, but Americans are too ignorant and brain washed to ever see beyond US government propaganda. If I had been living in cuba in the 50's I would have picked up a gun and enlisted with Castro.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • cameo35

      your right..............and theres many cuban who were abusive are still alive in florida and want to return to the same old pre-castro ways...

      April 10, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. cameo35

    ........................He has a right to his opinion and freedom of speech........after all we are not nazi...................

    April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  12. Only in America

    Can you speak your mind... and not get get punished.. oh wait.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin H

    When Castro "invaded" Cuba and overthrew Battista it isn't like America wasn't upset. Thousands fled Cuba post-January 1959. Nixon, to Eisenhower's embarrassment, was a good friend to those in the Battista regime – little wonder then that he had a considerable largesse from which to draw in Miami and elsewhere in south Florida during the 1968 election. Ike knew that Dick Nixon could be counted on to make ample use of his friends in South Florida – after all he'd been going to Cuba for two decades. Twenty-five percent of those who left were well-educated, upper class people. More than 75%, however, could potentially fair far better in the US than in the Cuba. In other words whether Castro had taken power or not – they were far better off here in terms of economic well being. US immigration looked the other way and gave exiles safe passage to the US for good reason. These demographics come from a Stanford study:: http://latinamericanstudies.org/exile/analysis.pdf. In other words Castro, a brutal dictator, replaced another brutal dictator – there was no real net change for the majority of Cubans in Cuba whereas the upper class majority, those whom now wealthy Cubans in exile would love to join, were part of the "in" crowd under Battista and were supplanted by political cronies under Castro. They left for the same reason anyone out of power leaves – their necks were on the chopping block. So let's not divide the "good guy" versus "bad guy" too finely here. Before Cubans knew they were miserable but forces in Cuba kept them in check, what Castro brought to the poor was literacy. The difference between the rich Cuban oligarchs that started in South Florida and fanned out all over the US – is that the percentage who were part of the poor working class had opportunities in the US they wouldn't have had in Cuba – under Battista OR Castro. If we're ignorant of anything here – it's ignorance of the half the story that needed to be told. Make no mistake – Nixon used Cuban refugees (who helped him win the vote in South Florida) and then a few nouveau riche oligarchs cemented his way into the White House. The American mob and monied Americans feathered their beds in Cuba under the Battistas – along with their their man Dick Nixon and poor Cubans had opportunities to get rich quick because of forces that wanted them in power. On the other side – nascent Communist forces wanted someone they could use in power to manipulate Cuba and make it a home for missiles and weaponry they could aim right at the femoral artery of the US in South Florida.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. svann

    Down with Bautista lovers!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. Fidel Castro

    He has the right to say what he said

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Tad Pole

      I'm definately not a Castro fan. I think the man is a murderer, thief, and has hurt the people of his country more than he has helped them. I do wonder though how it can be that someone who voices an opinion that in some way approves of Castro can have their job put in jeaprody. That isn't right.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
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