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. George

    ,I guess we are no longer able to speak free in America

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


      April 10, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • LC253

      Notice how he didn't goto jail.....It's the baseball team that suspended him... I cant stand reading through these comments... move to Canada or something

      April 10, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Dynatherapy

      Free speech doesn't mean "without consequences." It's funny how people like you think you can say whatever you want, but when other people exercise the same right in opposition to your "free speech", you go cry behind your "rights". Rights are not without responsibility.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. gunsnfknroses

    Welcome to democracy, where majority rules. There's no "fair", or "liberty" when it comes to democracy. Lynch mob rules.

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

      STFU. Nobody is making you stay in a democracy. If you hate it so much then leave and go to some a@n.l stuffing Arab dictatorship. Yeah, democracy gives you that freedom at least.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. sbp

    Do any of you morons screaming "free speech" even bother to READ the posts explaning why it's not an issue?

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

    How ridiculous. I want to be able to buy Havana Club rum without comitting a crime. How many groups with foreign agendas do we need running US politics? Especially in Florida – Cubans voting anti-Castro interests, and jews voting Israeli interests.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Retired Floridian

    The Marlin organization is a disgusting, pandering bunch of neo-Facsists. This is AMERICA and FREEDOM OF SPEECH PREVAILS or is supposed to! That includes political speech of any and all kinds. It seems the Marlins organization would much happier if they relocated to CUBA where the kind of crap they are pulling would be OK, right?!?! They are showing bias, total intolerance, dismissing freedom of speech, and making U.S. Cubans look like a–holes if they do not speak out against this gross unfairness.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. bill

    I can't believe he wasn't fired for that!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Drew

    I'm sorry for slavery, the 1%, those Germans (the bad ones), mean people, mean girls! and wheat bread that tastes like cardboard. Hey, this is the generation where we're sorry for everything!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. BD

    Castro manages to limit free speech in America – a victory comrades!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. TravisE

    Seriously, you CNN commentators need to educate yourselves. This has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FIRST AMENDMENT. The government of this great country has IN NO WAY impaired or inhibited his right of free speech.

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

    This is insanity. I would sue the Marlins for millions– he has freedom of speech and is harming no one by his exercising of it. Castro is a thug BUT indeed he is one of the most remarkable figures of the past century. Like it or not. This political correctness bull-s**t is destroying this country.

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

    >>Thanks liberals (ironic, since the commies are your heroes).

    This comment wins the "Not intended to be ironic but is because it is so moronic" award.

    Ummm....it was a conservative mentality that lead to this, not a liberal one.

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

    well free speach just went right out the window.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. POD

    And like Batista and his corporate, plutocratic, gangster friends were soooooooo much better for the Cuban people.....am I the only one that saw The Godfather Part II

    April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. lindy556

    Guillen will sit out five games after saying he respected Fidel Castro's 60-year rule over Cuba
    What happened to free speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. sbp

    Borealbob: so go and call your boss an idiot, and after he fires you, SUE HIM FOR MILLIONS.

    And be LAUGHED out of court. Moron.

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