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. sbp

    JOE: You are an idiot. Look up the First Amendment and then come back and explain to us all how it has been violated.

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

      Guillen's freedom of speech was not violated. His right to speak his mind is protected, however the Marlins as an organization have a right to discipine an employee when they see fit. The Marlins are reacting with the suspension because they have such a large Cuban-American fan base. Guillen was not thrown in jail for what he said. This is an employer-employee issue and has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Scott

    BOYCOT the Miami Marlins!!!! Also go to their webpage and email them and tell them how you feel about this. It's a shame what's happening in the country. Before long with the way things are going there will be mass protest.

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

      I think you mean "ban Miami".. You do realize its like almost 80 percent Cuban down there. I don't they even bother printing things in English anymore, no joke. It is what it is, and it is just new Cuba, and you'll always find procastro people there. You'll get more backfire because of this. If he said this in all white America nobody would give a hoot.

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

    It's disgusting that he "caused a firestorm" and had to apologize for his comments. It was his opinion, and it didn't hurt anyone except the types who are easily offended. Granted, our country is becoming more thin-skinned every day, but this is a non-story. Guillen got jobbed. Thanks liberals (ironic, since the commies are your heroes).

    April 10, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris S.

      So, let's assume he said he thought Hitler was great, or Saddam was great, or Ghadaffi was great. Would you expect people to be ok with that? It's not the words so much as it is the personality. If he honestly respects Castro for killing innocent Cubans and opressing the citizens of Cuba for 5+ decades, then he gets what he gets. I know if I said something publicly about 'Respecting Hitler', I would be removed from my job, no doubt.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. tostonesfix

    And this has NOTHING to do with Freedom of Speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. S1

    Let me get this right.. You want freedom of speech in a dictatorship such as Cuba. But you don't want freedom of speech in a democracy such as the United States?

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

      Holy F*^#*$^ hell. The Marlins are not a dictatorial government, they're a baseball team

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

    Oh come on. We all know Ozzie is a bit of a loose cannon.

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

    I don't see anything wrong with his comments. They weren't disrespectful or disparaging to anyone. I understand that many people in south Florida may have ill feelings toward Castro, but in America we are supposed to have freedom of speech and Guillen was only expressing his personal feelings toward Castro.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. Free Speech

    Fear the mighty Cuba. Fear it. Keep the 50 year embargo. Keep them isolated. Fear the Castro. Let him send his criminals over to your lovely Miami. Fear Communism. Fear it!
    ...Unless it's China. Love Commsunism. Love it because it gives us cheaper tech gadgets and Walmart. Yay for Communism.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • East of Eden

      That's the spirit!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. sarge

    Sad to see America going down the same road as Cuba. What has become of free speech in this country. We have become what we profess that we hate. Chastise and ostracize those who hold opposing opinions. SAD SAD.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. sbp

    Marcus, you fool, the Cubans are by and large Conservatives, so thank them. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. nitrous

    This has nothing to do with "Freedom of Speech". It has to do with getting people in the stands. Look at their roster. It's custom made to attract the Latin community. The Marlins also have a hair length policy that made Jose Reyes cut his dreads. As an employer that pays him a good salary – they can do what they want. Go Phils!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. Paperclips

    I'm really getting annoyed by the "powers that be" issuing suspensions for anyone speaking their minds, this is NOT N Korea. Now MLB is saying to me and my family that I have to hate Fidel and Cuba just because they say so (Cuban midnight sandwiches are so yummy though!). Maybe MLB should go to tolerance classes. So in protest of MLB's descision about THE RIGHTS OF EVERY AMERICAN'S OPINION, I have now issued to myself and my family a 6 game suspension on going to any MLB game. I would suggest everyone else do the same but I don't want to influence your life by telling you what to do or not do or say, unlike some major corporation, such as MLB.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Neutronstar

    Hey Ozzie, put some picante sauce on that foot, it might taste better while it's in your mouth!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. SSS

    Absolute unabliterated massive dose of BS.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Monrob

    Cuban-Americans (and yes, I am one) have not learned a thing about the United State. AMERICANS ARE FREE TO EXPRESS OPINION.

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