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. Robin

    The city of Miami and the Marlins should be ashamed of themselves for such pandering.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • C.Brown

      Why? Have you been to Cuba? Do you have a clue as to what many Cubans had to live through? I doubt it.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. sbp

    CNNuthin: Look up what freedom of speech means. And try telling your customers they are fools and see if your boss doesn't fire you. Then cry about freedom. You know nothing, that much is true.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Monkey Business

      Better idea. Try not being an idiot. Might work for you too 'sbp' eh?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • ufip22

      I think its you who knows nothing. If you are rude to a customer its failing at your job, so of course you will be fired. That has nothing to do with this. The man voiced his opinion, it had nothing to do with baseball or the club or his job as manager, it was his opinion.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Monkey Business

    Florida sucks.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Brent Jatko

      Amen to that!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. tostonesfix

    Man there are a lot of idiots posting here.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. Marc L from NY

    This just in, NY Mets manager Terry Collins has also been suspended because he let it slip during a press conference that he like Chase instead of Citibank. I also heard Jeter has been suspended because after doing all of those Ford Fusion commercials, he was caught driving a Dodge!! The world is coming to an end!! Run for your lives!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. paul johnson

    This is as sad as it gets, this man expressed his opinion, as a American citizen that is his right. But because he did, some elements of the Cuban community got outraged, that is their right, but the reaction from his team is not only UnAmerican, but undermines the freedoms the cubans who are protesting came to this country for. However this is becoming the norm, soon
    the freedoms you and I now take for granted will be gone.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • americanguy

      So you think employment is a right? You think a man should be able do or say anything without retribution from his employer? And what of his employers rights?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Brian Smith

    I'm surprised at the behavior that is tolerated by major league sports, while political/personal opinions like this get a five game suspension. I don't think this is right.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    Do what I did, go to the Miami Marlins webpage and click on Contact Us. Send your feedback. I cannot believe where this country is heading.

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

    Ozzie is free to say whatever he wants, and the Marlins are free to fire him or suspend him because he offended a lot of their customers. It's that simple. Ozzie probably should be fired for being stupid enough to say what he believed; but that is Ozzie. You get the whole package with Ozzie. I have no doubt that Ozzie meant what he said: that he respects Castro (for whatever reason). Nor is it unreasonable to respect Castro. You don't have to like him or agree with him, but one can respect what he has done. Ozzie obviously did. I think history will judge Castro as very wrong in some ways but one who accomplished a lot in other ways. But Ozzie will never recover the fans in Miami. And that's their right too. Ozzie is a good manager who stuck his foot in his mouth once too often. He's toast. It's too bad, but it's the law of the jungle, and we live in a jungle.

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

    he respects hugo chavez a socialist\communist dictator and obama. go figure.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bradley Bachman

    Why are we wasting our time talking about what this man did or didn't say. We have real problems in this country that need to be addressed. Who cares what he thinks of Castro! Stop sensationalizing.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. KEVIN

    I thought this is a free country

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. rand

    Does this mean that we (the people) can fire or suspend the Democrats who went to Cuba to visit Castro and when they returned to a FREE America.............................they gushed that Cuba was the greatest place on earth to live and its health care system was the envy of the world? It's hard to believe that any Cuban who escaped Castro and his regime could EVER vote Democrat after those statements..............

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. americanguy

    (Thanks to CNN for not requiring me to have an account to post my thoughts)

    The importance of freedom is seen on two sides here. On the one hand, Oz is free to stick his foot in his mouth, but his employer should have equal freedom to fire him for not upholding the image required for his position. Free speech does not equal 'a right to employment'. And Cuban Americans have the freedom to boycott the Marlins for whatever public image they put forth. We are witnessing America at it's best, and an American, not so much at his best.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. irv

    i am glad he left chicago. fl. can have him. not because of this remark but because he was nothing but a publicity seeking jerk & not a good baseball mgr.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • martin

      " i am glad he left chicago. fl. can have him. not because of this remark but because he was nothing but a publicity seeking jerk & not a good baseball mgr. "

      Not to mention that the team did, and does, stink.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
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