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. Scott

    BOYCOT the Miami Marlins!!!!

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

    This is just asinine.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. Carlton

    Although I don't agree with his comments, political correctness is a symptom of a serious problem which proves we are losing our freedoms in this country. If he had threatened someone's life or imposed his views or beliefs on someone by violating their freedoms is one thing, but making a stupid comment is another! This is becoming a serious problem people, we better wake up!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. Paul

    What Ozzie said was offensive to the community which ultimately pays his salary. Look up the demographics of south Florida. He has the right to express his views, no matter how misguided, he does not have the right to manage a baseball team. He must conduct himself in a manner that helps put fans in the seats.

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

      "fans in their seats"? The only time that the Marlin's have been able to keep fans in their seats was when they were blazing their way to the World Series. Most of the time, they play to a near empty stadium. So why is it now Ozzie's job to keep the fans in their seats??? Looks like the Cuban fans were boycotting way before Ozzie made his comments.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Anne

    The First amendment doesn't apply to a baseball team! It applies to our government. So no help there. That said, they are way off for suspending him for his political comments! Not to mention, he didn't even say that he agreed with Castro. What a shame.

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

      No... The First Amendment applies to ALL United States citizens. Just because your on a baseball team you don't suddenly loose your freedom of speech, that doesn't even make sense.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Anne, get a life. I feel sorry for you. What a comment!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      @say what? Yes, it applies to all US citizens. What you don't understand is that free speech means we can say what we want and our government can't hold it against us. Employers, on the other hand, CAN hold it against you. Free speech does NOT protect you from your employer, it protects you from your government.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      So, David, you're ok with getting suspended if your boss doesn't agree with your political views/comments? Interesting. I dont agree with his comments, I just don't think he should be suspended for them.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. J Mann

    Where is the ACLU when you need them? This is a blatant violation of his right of free speech. No Castro fan, but in America, you can say you like Hitler, Stalin and the Devil if you so please. Bad choice.

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

      The ACLU will only jump into somehting to fight against Christians or Conservatives!

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

      Yes, you can say it, but your employer should have the right to terminate if you hurt his bottom line. Its not like he's working on an assembly line, he's a public figure who helps put fans in the seats.

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

    Kevin: you must be a foreigner, because you have no clue what the First Amendment is about.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mattie

    Don't agree with Mr. Guillen, but he has a right to express his opinion. Furthermore, the Marlins organization could have chosen to handle the situation with candor, trusting the fans to make up their own minds- instead they punish the man for speaking. Well played.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kern Herrmann Jr

    The Marlins pander to the people in Miami who would prefer to see the achievements in Cuba interpreted as oppression. They would love to see kids starve than for a government that overcome our imperialism continue to improve human rights, health care, etc. Let's boycott the Marlines!

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

    This is really really stupid. The man was not praising Castro. He was talking about the fact that he has been able to be in power and maintain power for decades. This is a prime example of political correctness gone amuck.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ja!

    DEJA LO! CONO! LOL

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. JomoDaMusicMan

    Millions of White Baseball People love Rush Limbaum, and receives no penalty. Rush, is far more damaging to the peace & security of America than Castro

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

    J Mann – maybe finish high school before you go blathering about what is a violation of the First Amendment.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. Robert

    Where is the freedom of speech.
    People make a big deal out of nothing. We are all different and have different point of views.
    Stop being stupid and try to make everyone think the same way because its not going to happened.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. freaksloan

    Nobody is putting him in jail, nobody is saying he doesn't have the right to say it. But as Ozzie has the right to Free Speech, do do I, and OZZIE is a racist idiot that gets a free pass because the color of his skin.

    Free speech does not mean you have a right to be heard and it also doesn't mean you are free from criticism.

    The left only thinks the left has free speech, if I don't agree with the left I need to be silenced.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      I'm generally considered to be from "the left". I certainly don't have a problem with hearing your side. However, as much as I despise both Castro and Guillen, I also don't see that Guillen said anything that would merit punishment in a so-called free country. He didn't say that he admired Castro because he really likes brutal dictators. He admired Castro's ability to maintain power for 6 decades despite many super powers throughout the world wanting his head on a platter. You have to admit, it was a very remarkable accomplishment. I can disagree with someone without wanting to see them punished. That's the mindset of someone who not only wants to live in a free country, but who also understands what it truly means.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
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