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. Paul

    I'm sorry. I thought this was America, land of the free, where one could express an opinion without fear of retribution and reprisal. If stupidity is a crime, we're all in trouble ...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy S.

      no you can say what you like then others are allowed via NOT GOING TO GAMES OOPS. To say what they like.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jeffbaseball

    I know about the racist Cubans because I lived down there.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Menthu

    Send him back to Cuba and he can love Castro all he wants.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy S.

      How do you send someone back to where they aren't from?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Derrick

    It's not what you say, it's how you say it.

    Type DerrickDuffie into your web browser to visit my website and learn about my new novel, Unfinished Business.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jimmah

    Typical leftist. Lives in the greatest country in the world and praises a leftist regime that is guilty of murdering those who speak out against it. And this Cuban managing a ML baseball team thinks Cuba and its leaders are great? Typical liberal: poorly educated, lacks reasoning, fails to understand world affairs, has no comapssion for others forced to live under communist rule and regularly displays ignorance for all to see.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      If ignorance was good reason to suspend or fire people, you'd be unemployed, jimah

      April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kim

    How very Fidel-Castro of us. Apparently freedom of speech doesn't exist in the US either! Does anyone see the irony in all of this?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jerry Fritschle

    A few others have mentioned this, but it bears repeating that this is NOT a First Amendment issue. The Marlins are a private employer, not the government, and are within their rights to discipline their employee. Guillen is not going to jail, which would be risked by someone making anti-Castro remarks in Cuba. It can be argued whether the Marlins over-reacted–and some may honestly feel they under-reacted, but Guillen's First Amendment rights are intact.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Meicho

      Well said Jerry :)

      April 10, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dale

    Freedom speech is a wonderful thing, until political correctness takes it away.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ward

    Ridiculous. The guy has an opinion, big deal. Besides, he didn't say, "Castro is the best dictator Cuba has ever had." He respects the man's survival instincts, that's it.

    Since when do we in this country punish those for having an opinion? What's next? Public censure? Scary.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Meicho

    IIs this guy that good of a coach that he continuously gets away with this stuff. He has been making this type of comment for years to no adverse affect.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. sbp

    No, Paul, in this country, if you call your customers morons, your bosses will fire you. You think you can claim "free speech" and sue them? Why not try reading the Bill of Rights first.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. treblemaker

    The only freedom of speech in the USA has left seems to have to pass through the filter of political correctness. BTW, who determines what is politically correct? The comments were "hurtful"? AWWWW! Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me-NOT! What a thin-skinned society we have become.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. Public Enemy Number 2

    I think the real story here is that some people still care about Fidel Castro.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I think the real story here is what happened to freedom of speech?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jody

      Still loyal to another country while enjoying benefits of living here.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Alicia Townes

    If he wanted to apologize he should have said it in a better way

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. jimbo

    lol what? suspend him for such comment? are you joking? who cares how he feels about Castro? stupid Americans.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      the marlins are in Miami. Miami has a HUGE Cuban population. A lot of those Cubans are exiles from Communist Cuba of the late 50s (or descendants of exiles). The Marlins need people to attend games to make money. Thus, when your manager offends the HUGE population of Miami residents who will be buying tickets you must take action.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
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