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. Anothermuse

    When you are a high profile figure in Miami, you don't ever say anything that could be twisted as pro Castro. You have the right to free speech, you also have the right to face the consequences of it. With that said, it has been twisted, he was sort of tounge in cheek, "you know the guy stayed in power even though everyone in the world wants him dead" His use of the word resepct was really just sarcasm or saying, hey I wish I could keep my job when everyone hates me so much.

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

      When you are free, you are allowed to express yourself and you don't have to face suspension from your job for it, regardless of how unpopular your opinion may be. Our forefathers died to preserve the freedom to speak – do you think that criticism of the King of England was popular in 1776? Really? We've been complacent for so long that we've had our freedoms ripped right our from under us and we don't pay close enough attention to even realize it. We can't say the pledge of allegiance in school anymore, we can't call Christmas by it's real name. We've become a bland, colorless culture afraid of "offending" anyone. How about those folks who come to America for a better life getting on board that they are coming to America – not starting a colony of their own country on our soil. Assimilate, contribute, be productive or stay home!

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

    SHAME SHAME SHAME on the MArlin organization for repressing free speech! That is a terrible example to the young people who once looked up to MLB as a model of character. Ozzy has every right to state his views. Cuba was a horrible dictatorship that economically exploited its people in vile cruel ways BEFORE CAstro. Guess what, there may have been a reason to get rid of the old ruler?!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. sbp

    IDIOTS: THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. THAT RIGHT IS ONLY TO THE GOVERNMENT LEAVING YOU ALONE.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. zephyr99

    LOL. Nice beginning, Ozzie. You loudmouth idiot.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. TravisE

    Yes, he can say whatever he wants. He is protected to. But the company that employees him maintains their right to punish or suspend him if he violates their policies or behavioral requirements. EVERY company can do that.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the first amendment. His right to run his mouth is guaranteed and HAS NOT been breached.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cherries

    Open mouth, insert foot. I bet those cleats taste awful.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. Continuing to be amuzed

    Go Marlins! Taking tips from CASTRO! If you don't like what they say punish them! Nothing scream evil dictator like stifling the opinons of your people.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. sbp

    Shame shame shame on Thomas Paine for not understanding the Bill of Rights.

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

    Freedom of speech and having a personal opinion has been eliminated by the PC police and cronies.

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

    This is total BS!!! You mean to tell me that some warped idiots can go to funerals of military personnel and spew all the hate they want with no consequences, but a baseball manager cannot say that he respects a dictator without being suspended? What happened to free speech?

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

    So Jim Leyland can come out and say, What about all the good things Hitler did and you wouldn't have a problem with it?

    What if Manny Acta comes out and said, James Earl Ray is my HERO and I see nothing wrong with him killing MLK Jr?

    The Motto for the Democrat Party, Thank GOD for Stupid People!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama/Bush = Stooges, Hasta la Victoria Siempre

      Universal health care and guaranteed employment = the holocaust.

      Only in the twisted, sick, demented mind of a tea bagger.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. Josh

    What does his personal opinion about Cuba and Castro have anything to do with baseball?

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

    I don't understand why they would suspend Guillen. Would the SF Giants suspend Bochy if he said he was against gay marriage, or the Yankees suspend Gerardi because he believed in affordable parking?

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

    What did he say wrong? That is his opinion and we must respect it. He may be right to give Castro some props. That country has Less drugs, less crime, Medicine is free, education is good. The only problem is that the country does not have as much money as the US but if it did I am sure they would put it to better use then we have.

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

      Because you say it, doesn't make it so.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Fladabosco

      You left out a couple of problems they seem to have in Cuba, like strangling poverty and lack of basic freedoms. Aside from that it sounds like a great place with successful leaders, choke choke...

      April 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. martinracingdealer

    I was going to take all my employees to see the games this season. This is a Hugo Chavez loving communist who has respect for a dictator? The communists in the country have gone after several religious groups not to mention Hugo and Chavez are just pretending to make nice with the Catholic Church lately, but they are highly Anti-organized religion, Anti-Semitic, pro class warfare, and above all love to blame America for all wrongs and somehow this guy becomes a US citizen so that he can manage a baseball team in the city that has a high portion of Venezuelans who have left because of Chavez, of a strong Cuban American population that built Miami into what it is, one of the strongest immigrant communities that have fled communist regimes, and one of the largest Jewish business communities in America. What does he think that there are no consequences? If the Marlins had any integrity whatsoever they would fire him with cause. Jeffrey Loria should be ashamed to have hired someone so ignorant, its clear that this is not a reflection of the brightest and best Venezuela has to offer. This is just a drunk who thinks a communist dictator is "cool" its the same when you see ignorant comments from people who admire "Stalin", "Saddam Hussein", or even "Hitler" they make off the cuff comments that offend, hurt, and in some cases open wounds to people who have lost everything. We are lucky to be in a country where most Americans have not had a regime change that took property away, the took away the rule of law, and we've had a system that has worked for the last hundred plus years, but no person who is a position like his that represents an entire community should think that they are not a role model or a representative of a community. The tax payers of Miami Dade country were swindled and we will never know the extent of the corruption that led to the new ballpark, but the least they can do is fire this guy for being a complete moron. If they don't is just a reflection of the lack of character of the owner of the Marlins. Money doesn't buy intelligence nor respect.

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

      OMG!! This shows how America is so fake and Backwards =!!!!!!!! I thought Americans were free to express their views but they are no better than Iran, Cuba or any other fascist regime!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      You are accusing other people of being ignorant? I doubt many educated people would consider Castro to be in the same category of horrific people as Stalin, Hitler and Hussein. I live in FL and I am so tired of Republicans carrying this double standard for immigration and foreign policy when it comes to Cubans and everybody else.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack Calvez

      Ozzie should have known that in Miami, you are not allowed to say ANYTHING without the express written approval of The Cuban American Foundation. Anyone who has lived for awhile in Miami knows this. The reason Castro came to power in the first place was because these same New-Miamians didn't allow discussion of any type in Cuba under the Batista regime, which was subsequently replaced by an even harsher regime of Communists under Castro. In today's United States Ozzie, freedom of religion, and/or the write of self defence, has gone the way of the louder tweet! And as far as Miami being "built by the Cuban Americans to what it is today"...if creating a corrupt hell out of what was once a paradise is something to be proud of, then I guess you're right!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter Pedrosa

      Guillen should be suspended not because what he said, but where he said it. I'm a venezuelan national living in florida. It is obvious that the cuban community is so powerfull here, that they will pressure so much, to have Guillen suspended and many probably want him fired. The bottom line is, that in this country anyone should be free to express his/her opinion, whether some like it or not. Sean Penn, Danny Glover and others have not been punished because they like Chavez and Castro. Should Hollywood suspend them? I do not recall anyone being suspended in the USA, when the US Goverments supported dictators in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, etc.........oh, that is right, these were right hand dictators, so that is fine, as long as the killing is for the good cause of avoiding communist, these dictators are good...................double standards!!!!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • School you

      Well said @martinracing dealer. Very well said.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
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