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. William Fitzsimmons

    Although I disagree with the type of governance in Cuba, suspending a man for expressing his opinion about this is RIDICULOUS. The moron who suspended him should be fired.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. What?

    Freedom of Speech in America, NOT ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    sbp, you fool (I have lowered myself to your name-calling), I am thanking liberals for the thin-skinned, easily offended nation we have become, not the Cubans. Reading comprehension comes in handy from time to time.

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

      Waah Liberals did it waahh waaaah. Go cry over a Faux News you dolt.

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

    Us Canadians get a laugh at how some Americans get their knickers in a twist over Cuba...the people are not rich, but no one's starving, no one's living on the street, the place is essentially drug-free & they all get free medical care. And there is 10% of the police presence that you see in Mexico. In addition, over the last couple of years, Raoul Casto has opened things up for small-time capitalism; half the population has their own micro–business going. Only a fool would think that things are better in El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala than they are in Cuba. Thx for speaking your mind, Ozzie – so sorry that you had to retract your statement in the 'Land of the Free'...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. Michael Corujo

    Yes, We are a Nation of Freedoms, but how would you feel if you were Jewish and Ozzie managing a team in Israel was to praise Adolf Hitler? Or while managing a team in the Middle East, he made a comment disrespecting the Profet Mohammed?? It is not about Freedom, my friend; it is about COMMON SENSE!! Miami has the largest population of Cubans in the world! People who suffered under Castro and deserve a little more respect.

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

      So censorship is more important than Freedom of Speech?

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

      Common sense or not, we are supposed to be free to say what we want, but aparently that's not allowed in AMerica anymore

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

    I think people should be free to say if they respect someone or not regardless of whether that someone is actually a good person or not. I'm free to say Fidel Castro was a terrible dictator, but I hope that I wouldn't be punished for having a positive opinion about someone else that maybe the majority of people didn't like. I believe in the freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Josh

    Fidel Castro, he use to make convertible sofas, no?

    "The first to conquer living space, its Castro Convertibles"

    April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. What?

    Just a little bit more of your freedoms being taken away every day and every body seems to be ok with it. Just wait, the more you let them take, the more they will take, and soon you won't have any freedoms if we don't start speaking up

    April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. zzzzz

    He never said he liked Castro's policies, he just gave him credit for staying in power and alive so long. I still do not see what the big deal is. Having respect for the "enemy" does not make one. Overblown.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Well said.

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

    I've NEVER like Ozzie Guillen, but suspending him for his remarks about Castro smacks of communistic-like suppression of free speech. South Florida's Cuban community is so fanatical in its hatred of Castro that they literally engage in the same intolerance of opposing viewpoints that communist governments have always been accused of.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. Carlos the Jackal

    Ah yes, the freedom of speech. Small minded people who can't agree to disagree. Noooo we all march to the same drum beat. True free individuals who do as they are told to.
    Gawd what has this country come to?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. P B

    lol@ 'Miama Marlins'

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

    Marcus, you fool, so you are blaming liberals for making Conservatives think skinned enough to protest Guillen? Boy, is that a stretch. And I called you a fool because you pretend to know what the First Amendment means, but you don't have a clue.

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

    What's Miama?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. jack hall

    why does he get suspended for expressing his opinion? WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

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

      A private company suspended him, not the government. That's the difference.

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

      Freedom of speech ONLY means that the government cannot tell you want not to say. It has nothing to do with the people who pay you a salary. They have every right to tell you want not to say - especially when they are paying you a lot of money. That said, I respect Fidel Castro for ruling Cuba for so long. I don't like him and wouldn't mind seeing the CIA pop a cap in his head, but I certainly respect him.

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