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. Josh

    This is ridiculous. If you cannot say anything remotely controversial without fear of losing your job, you can pay lip service to the first amendment all you want, it's dead.
    We do not need a legally protected right to free speech for speech that is POPULAR. What the heck would you need that for? We need it to protect speech that is UNPOPULAR, and therefore likely offensive. The fact that his opinion may have offended some Cuban-Americans (even rightfully so), should have ABSOLUTELY no bearing on whether his speech is permissible or not. If you don't like what he said and it angers you: fine! You have every right to be angry. You have the right to make a counter-argument to refute him. What you DON'T have is the right to silence him directly or do so by threat (Taking away his livelihood is a good example of that). Wake up America!

    April 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cheryl

      I think it really is about money. The offended cuban-Americans may not come to the games and that may get into profits.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    While the first amendment is much more narrow in scope than many may realize, this strikes me as a situation where it is well suited. To say though it is the "saddest" day in his life – for one simple remark – strikes me as over the top pandering to Miami. I am not suggesting he is right or wrong – only that suspending him was unnecessary and excessive.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jaimeh

    Cubans are only interested in two things: The few ones inside CUBA, are interested in the dollars that the Cuban-American Foundation and others, (incluiding the US Government, thanks to the Republicans) sends them as payment for being "useful fools", and create noise, that the Miami Herald picks up and proclaim them as "disidents", so the world would believe that they are a major movement. The powerful lobby in the US, being led by by the rich Cubans, or "Cuban-Americans", are interested in the ocasion that they expect to take over Cuba, and sell or associate themselves to the big corporations, and turn it to the big paradise that once was for the Mafia, and profit from tourism, just like Bahamas and other islands in the Caribbean. The Cuban People you ask? The welfare of the poor? Nah! they do not matter at all ... money matters. And whoever disagrees, gets punished here, in the Land Of The Free.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • James Taylor

      TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. The great machine propaganda from the Cuban American Association. Only making $$$ for the wealthy white Cubans while exploiting the rest and the poor white Cubans.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TK33

    Can't the MLB just hand out 'idiotic comment of the month' awards? I don't understand why major league sports are so fast to issue punitive responses to player comments. Can you really get down on a guy for what he says to Time Magazine? I am not a fan of Castro, but to even out the playing field here, I am going to at least say that the MLB should worry about what these guys do on the field/dugout and since it is not baseball related, ignore it. The public should start fining the MLB for everytime it meddles in REAL LIFE!

    April 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. steve harnack

    Suspended on what grounds? For having an opinion? Take them to court. This is insane.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Pro Death

    Freedom of speech is so free after all...

    April 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mike

    For those of you who missed it, the guy is in trouble with his employer, not the government. The first amendment protects Ozzie from the federal government, not the Marlins. I'm sure the Marlins will, like any big business, be happy to hang any employee out to dry if what they say costs them business.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Shyla07NY

    Does anyone remember Marge Shot? She was the owner of the Cincinatti Reds who back in the 80's made a lovely comment about Hitler being a great guy; Major League Baseball pretty much banished her from the game. Fast forward to the year 2012, Ozzie does the same thing and only gets a 5 game suspension; it's a sad commentary on what the world has become.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. James Taylor

    The Castro invaded any nations and in the process killed over 300,000 like Bush and Cheney did? I dont think so.
    Castro has done lots of wonderful things for Cuba, Free education and medical care. When any Cuban leaves the island they are ready to make it to the top.
    Before the RUssians left Cuba all alone the island was doing much better than most nations in Latin America. Is easy for those crazy Cubans in Miami to always compared Cuba with the USA and mention how bad things are down there. Why dont they flee Cuba and go to Colombia, The Dominican Republic or Ecuador? NOPE they want to come to the USA just like most Latins from other nations. Except Cubans get a free pass and as soon as they land they get a green card and then USA citizenship. I too would say that I hate Castro. But a fact is that many of those Cubans which are very successful in the USA made it thanks to the education they received under Castro.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Marc from Florida

    Suspending Guillen is just plain wrong. I guess there is free speech as long as you say what people want to hear. This sends a terrible message to creative thinkers. We are becoming what we fought and died for to prevent. The eroding of our individual freedoms. No enemy could do this, we are doing it to ourselves.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Brad McRae

    Ummmmm i thought your country was about the whole free speech thing? How is it that a country that touts itself as free is so repressive on speach, crime, etc etc? Just curious.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ira

      What do you find so confusing about this?

      The people calling for his resignation are also exercising their right to free speech. And their boycott of Marlins games is a way of speaking with their dollars.

      What about this is so hard for you to understand?

      No one is saying you don't have a right to free speech, but I think you're confusing "free" with meaning there are no consequences to your words.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Love Being An Independent Woman

      Ira – that is one crock of sheepdip! That's like saying you have free will as long as you do as I say; and if you don't do as I say – you'll be punished !!!!!!

      Your country is so twisted right now, you people have to screw your socks on every morning!

      April 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Because another term for "democracy" is "Mob Rule"... and there are an awful lot of old Batista loyalists who think they remember the "good old days" when they ran Cuba the way Pinochet ran Chile...

      April 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim konrardy

      There is freedom of speech, was he put in jail for his comment? no. The owners of the Marlins also have the right to hire and fire who ever they want if they do not represent the Marlins in a positive light!

      April 10, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willie

      We do have free speech in that we won't be hauled off to jail or be in any legal trouble for saying something like that, but companies have every right to fire you if you're representing them while saying that.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • twirtzy

      Your right to free speech protects you from the government, not your employer.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • reinadelaz

      Everything here has a price tag. The sad thing is that those who object to Guillen's statement so virulently also badmouth Castro for not tolerating speech with which he disagrees, yet they are unable to see their hypocrisy. God bless America.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time

      It be neat to hear the accent with them words. "Your country is so twisted right now, you people have to screw your socks on every morning!"

      hehehe! Here that Sam? Use a robertson!

      April 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GetReal

    What you all ninnies do not understand is that the Marlins need to make money to survive, If the manager says something stupid publicly that offends some fans, the franchise loses. Yes, he can say what ever he wants but it carries a price. He just paid it. Stay out of politics and keep to the sport. Lesson: don't mess with the Miami Cubans, they byte back.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ira

      Exactly.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Love Being An Independent Woman

      So what you're saying is that in America – you can say what you like as long as it doesn't stop the flow of cash....................? That says it all about you Yanks. You are Sooooooo shallow and grasping!

      April 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ira

    South Floridian here–and this guy will be rightfully fired tomorrow or Thursday.

    This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It's business:

    The Marlins might have a new stadium, but they averaged something like 7,000 fans a game last year, if THAT much. (I'm making up a number, but the attendance was dismal.) This stadium is IN Little Havana, filled with exiled Cubans who hate Castro and are planning boycotts.

    Do you think Marlins management is going to lose millions of dollars to defend Guillen's right to free speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • cubansareillegals

      Ira is lying. Cubans don't go to the stadium anyways and they are a minority. And THIS IS AMERICA. Why do they call that place little Havana... If they want to live in Little Havana, then go back to Cuba!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      Ira, you ninny, Cubans never went to the games ANYWAY....native of Miami here...Tthey're just pist because they don't understand the English language EITHER!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sbp

    Duh, Brad, because the COUNTRY is not repressive on speech – the Marlins, a private business, freely chose to be. He's their employee. The country/government had no part in this. Ergo, the First Amendment has nothing to do with it. But thanks for playing.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. TUHOYITO TEHIEDE

    Where is the freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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