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. hellodollyllama

    I'm with Ozzie on this one. It's time for the 300 million Americans who are NOT Cuban to stop cowering in fear of offending the Cubans in Florida. Castro is a communist thug, but he did outlast a dozen presidents who wanted him gone, and continuing to treat him the same way we treat the Iranians is stupid. I mean seriously, we are thinking seriously about negotiating with THE TALEBAN, the people who helped create al-Qa'ida and 911, and we're not allowed to negotiate with Castro? Because he's worse that Usama, or something?

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

      Right on, hellodollyllama! This is SO stupid!

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

      Our embargo against Cuba is absolutely idiotic, and is only kept around because the corn industry pays for it. Cuba has sugar to trade, but corn farmers would rather kill you with more dangerous corn syrup.

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

      fvcking idiot

      April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. ThePastaSauce

    Athletes should stick to playing with their "balls" and stay out of politics....

    April 10, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. jamie0218

    They suspended him for saying he respects some guy? What? I would tell the ball team to go find some other guy to push around. I would quit just on principle. First Amendment anyone?

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

    UNAMERICAN – Thats what I call Punishing a Man for expressing his opinion as an American that he respects another man.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ping Pong

    This guy is stupid.... how can you say something like this the Cubanamerican community that you love Fidel Castro a cruel dictator? fired him!

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

      He said respect not love idiot...

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

      Ozzie said he respects Castro–nothing about loving the guy! Fidel has endured, and that alone is worthy of acknowledgment.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. James

    Morons talking about "free speech". Democracy means you are free to say whatever you like. But it does not mean there are NO consequences.

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

    Name-calling is the last refuge of the ignorant and out-argued.

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

    "I'm gonna be a Miami guy for the rest of my life," Guillen said.

    Can someone tell me how long he's lived there? 20 years or 20 weeks? Regardless, won't he be moving as soon as he's fired by Miami, or he resigns to work for more money somewhere else?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. cash679

    THis has happened before. Remember how ESPN stopped using the Monday Night Football song because the singer made some comment? There is no free speech when you work and represent a franchise, company, etc. Your words and actions will be judged, and sometimes there will be a price to pay.

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

    He is a baseball player. His thoughts have to bearing on our lives. He has nothing to do with laws or policies. Let him play and let people be offended.

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

    So, the First Amendment is dead... apparently.

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

    If your upset about it then go to the Miami Marlins website and tell them how you feel. There is a contact us link at the bottom of their page.

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

    This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. This has to do with idiocy. Where is the largest anti-Castro-Cuban-American population? Need I answer. He put the entire franchise in jeopardy. What Cuban-American is going to support a team with him as skipper? What player who has Cuban blood and or relatives will want to play for the guy?
    He has the right to say whatever he wants- but he doesn't have to keep his job when his words do significant damage to the health of the business that employs him.

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

    WHAT? First of all, he was being facetious. Second of all, even if he was serious, who cares?! I know that free speech doesn't apply to private employment, but still, what a stupid thing to be suspended for.

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

      WHAT? An employee representing a company being suspended for offending their customers? WHAT? An employee being suspended for insubordination? WHAT? An employee being suspended for thinking they can say whatever they want and think they won't suffer the consequences?

      WHAT?

      Dumb @ $ $

      April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. what??

    what is this... the 1960's

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

      The Marlins have seen the last $ from my family for this unAmerican PC maneuver.

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