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. Jon

    Freedom of speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. William Short

    So what happened to the much vaunted American freedom of speech? I guess the U.S. has freedom of speech as long as what you say agrees with the state.

    Some freedom!!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Amused1944

    His suspension is an injustice to this man and all he needs right now is a good lawyer.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kris

    I agree with his original comment, Fidel has stood up and fought for his beliefs whether you agree with them or not. And of course any revolutionary leader is going to cuase some degree of pain and suffering in advancing their cause. How 'bout ol' Georgie Bush, how much pain and suffering (and death) has his two wars caused? Oh yeah, I forgot, all in the name of democracy.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sbp

    Andrea, do you have a reading problem, or are you just ignoring all the posts explaining that the First Amendment applies to GOVERNMENT ACTION to suppress free speech. The Marlins aren't the government. 100 years ago, if you called your boss an jerk, you didn't get a "free speech" exemption. Nothing's changed, except people like you are more clueless about your rights.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gary

    Marlin's say "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."

    Replace Castro with Batista! "The pain and suffering caused by Batista cannot be minimized". Miami's Cuban people want to return to the "good old days", when 20,000 Cuban's were killed and tortured by Batista, while their rich sugar plantation owners (now in Miami) watched their fellow Cuban's poor starve. I'd say, let it go. Time to move on, and forget your "good old days". Castro is no better nor worse than Batista.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • La Verdad

      Bravo Gary,
      At least there are still some people in this country who knows thier history! I shudder to think what those rich Cuban's will do to thier own country once they take it back from the Castro's of the world. I can see them displacing all the darker Cuban people to make room for thier new high rises in downtown Havana. The Miami cuban's are the biggest hippocrites and they are the lapdogs of the Republican party!

      April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ron in NC

    I wonder . . . unless there's a clause in the contract covering this sort of thing, doesn't Ozzie have a case for wrongful termination (or, so far, cessation–which will almost surely lead to termination in the near future)?????

    April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      There is always a clause in the contract to the effect that they will neither do or say anything that will adversely effect the team. Miami is full of Anti-Castro refugees that are furious for these comments, who may protest the team causing a dip in attendance.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sbp

    Italia, last time you checked you were WRONG. Go call a lawyer and ask him. Or maybe read the Bill of Rights.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bumble Bumbleton

    Evidently, if you work for MLB, you leave your rights at the door.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jay

    Guillen's only mistake is in apologizing for speaking his mind. His original comments about Fidel Castro were true. Mr. Castro is a hero to millions, he looked out for the best interests of his people in the face of incredible threats from Washington, and he has been far less ruthless than the dictators favored by the U.S. Did Mr. Castro do some bad things? Of course: All armed revolutions (including the American Revolution and the one the world recently hailed in Libya) are bloody, terrible and awful...but sometimes good eventually comes of them. Mr. Guillen should have stood firm in supporting his views and even firmer on his right to express them.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulBoomer

      You got all that right. Well said.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      I'm seriously doubting you have lived in Cuba or know people who live(d) in Cuba.

      Hero to millions... not exactly. Tolerated at best and hated at worst.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lou

      Jay, Castro may be a hero to millions and it is OK with you. Jihadists, the Taliban and the likes are heroes to a vast portion of the world's populaiton, are you OK with that as well? If you don't agree, please explain the difference between them and better yet, why one murderer is better than the other.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      America is starting to look like the movie "Escape from New York" This is what happens when you fail to invest in education for your chidren, you cause the decline of the American Empire. Wasn't it in Nazi Germany that they first came for the intellectuals, then they came for the artists and then they came for my neighbour. America is slowly sliding into fascism, I am so glad I do not live there. You cheer on the rich while they take away your investments, your health care, your pension. You cheer on while your government squanders your resources and future on wars that destroy your economy. Then you blame the guy who takes over for the state of your economy. Even Donald Trump said, " He profits better under a DNC administration." Maybe not Escape from New York, a better analogy might be the movie "1984"

      April 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Trebek

    We incarcerate our criminals; Cuba allows theirs to move to Miami.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sbp

    Bumble, where were his rights violated? Was he arrested? Did the government fine him? Did the government ban him from making statements? Your employer is not the government. Try telling your boss to eff off, then sue him when he fires you "because waaaaa, he violated my right to free speech."

    April 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      Maybe you wont like it when they tell you " Waaaaaa, you have no right to free speech"

      April 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Think First

    This was my Reply to the post earlier and it goes for others here also. The vast majority of these replies are very out of touch. This is a VERY sensitive issue for some people. Especially in the community the MIAMI Marlins are based out of- Little Havana. Many have been displaced, imprisoned, tortured or killed by Castro's political Machine. Miami is a Different place, unlike any other city in the Nation or the World for that matter, just ask those who live here and those who have visited. You cant make insensitive remarks and expect to no face the consequences. We love to have freedom of speech, but we hate to face it's consequences? Think before you act.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. b

    Miamians just need to get over Castro. We could have normalized relations with Cuba and improved the lot of Cubans a long time ago if Cuban-Americans weren't so pigheaded.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lou

      Then you are of the opinion that we should also ger over 9-11 or that the Hollocaust didn't happen? This is not a matter of being politically correct or freedom of speech, it is an issue of having hurt people's sentiment regarding an issue very dear to them. By the way, have you ever been to Cuba? Not as a tourist, but living as the people there do? Whenever you do that, then you will have the right to provide an opinion such as this one.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JD

    Typical out-of-touch liberals here. No surprise that they take issue with the suspension – Castro is practically their hero! And of course, as always, the dumb liberal can't distinguish between an employer punishment and government ban – that's why they think freedom of speech comes into play. Now these lefties will go back to attacking those who support Stand Your Ground, and forget all about their absurd freedom of speech argument.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timotheo

      Not practically....he IS my hero. And you can't kill him. And it just kills you and your kind, doesn't it?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      Stand your ground is a license to kill. All you need to do is make sure no one is around and you can off someone, stick a gun in their hand and then tell the cops you were afraid for your life. I just dont get it, America is supposed to be the land of freedom, not the land of freedom as long as you say what I condone you to say.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
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