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. CLE fan

    Blame the Marlins for hirng this loose cannon to be the "savior" of the franchise. Did anyone think he was going to change?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. CNNuthin

    His opinions have no bearing on his skills as a Manager. Let the man speak and let him do his job. Or you can suspend him for using that "Free Speech" we are so proud of in this country. He did not shout "Fire" in a crowded theater. He praised a world leader. Are we back to McCarthyism and Witch-hunts? Better dead than Red.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Scott

    I can understand the fact that he made that comment and why. The article does not mention exactly how the question was asked. So you have to look at the question from the piont of view of who you are asking it to. In this case, the question (whatever it was) was asked to a major leauge manager. A person with passion to win and survive when other ball teams would like the opposite. So when he replied, he was simply saying the truth. And that is, you have to have an element of respect for a survivor. Especially Castro who has survived despite great odds. This is all he was saying. He did not say he respects the man for hurting his own people. Its unfortunate the public can not see that and to create controversey over this (i'm talking to the media here) is a discrace in itself. We don't need it.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. bspurloc

    suspended for what? and what good is an apology after he said he respected the guy?!?!?! odd

    April 10, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cellneuron

    This country walked closer to China now. Free speaking? No way.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. exdemocrat

    Land of the free? We can't even make a joke without fear of the liberals pressing criminal charges.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Johnny B Goode

    I thought Americans value Freedom of Speech? Apparently this only applies when it's what America wants you to say????

    I don't get it....

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. Adam Tefft

    To all of you that are barking up a tree about "freedom of speech":

    Yes, he has the RIGHT to his own opinion HOWEVER his employer also has the RIGHT to suspend him or even fire him. He's not being jailed nor is he in any sort of legal trouble because of what he said, but his employer can do whatever they want.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • marty

      right , they can do whatever they want. but its just funny how far behind the MLB is and has always been.
      funny thing too, i bet those who were offended will not protest baseball. even with the MLB profit sharing, if you support one team, you support all of them. nothing will change, the suspension is just Miami saving face

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. sf

    and if cubans were so damn proud of Cuba and offended by these comments then why don't they boat their illegals butts BACK TO CUBA!!! GET OUT OF THE USA!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      The owner of the Miami Marlins is Jewish. He makes his money by selling tickets to many Cuban Americans. Therefore he is sensitive to their feelings ONLY because he wants their money.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. Goya

    Wow...freedom of speech ...but ...then I do not know what is in his contract and if he is considered a voice of the team 24/7. If they had a different fan base...probably they would have laughed it off as him being drunk again?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Juba

    hola. Miami Marlins did the right thing, ju know why? As a cubano, ju know, i will not come to any beisbol games unless he apologizes for his Castro comment. Ju know, Fidel is a monster, equivalent of saying Hitler. Marlins are smart not to offend the primary fan base, and the location of the marlins stadium (little havana). Ju know, this will blow over, they are doing the right things. The alternative is no fans come and Ozzie is gone. Ozzie is great for the Marlins, just has a big mouth. Ju know, lets get this over with. Go Marlins – another world series for the always underdog team..that has 2 championships already...sorry cubbies

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. marty

    our freedoms are being taken away daily. the MLB is 50 years behind the social norm and that should not be surprising

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rbud

    I wonder what would happen if he didn't or did like anyone are we no longer allowed to have an opinion?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Evangenital

    The Cubans have such "pull" The fact is we are supposed to have freedom of speech. I guess not when the Miami Mafia is looking out. . .

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Right?!? It's like those tea party people or evangelicals pushing their beliefs on us real Americans!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Brian

    He has his right to free speech, it's not being effected by this move. He's not going to jail, he's not going to be tortured like he would be by Fidel Castro. He works for a private company, they can suspend him for saying stupid things. If somebody said the same thing about Josef Stalin or Adolf Hitler would all you libs still be crying about him being suspended?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesse from KC

      I'm a liberal and I do respect Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler for various reasons. They were bad, evil men who should never have been allowed to gain power, but they both did more than enough to be respected. I don't like someone, don't agree with what they did, but I do respect their actions.

      I don't agree that he should be suspended, and had it happened in another market, it likely wouldn't have been such a big deal. If he were managing my Royals, he would have been punished I'm sure, but not suspended.

      I don't agree with the decision to suspend him, but I can respect that, too.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
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