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. Fidel Castro

    Thought Crime....Thought Crime....

    ...and people say Cuba is a repressive society!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim Whelan

      Guess you didn't live in Cuba post 1959.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. t3chsupport

    So much for freedom of speech. You can say you hate him all you want, but don't you dare claim respect!

    Respect isn't the same as support, and even that isn't illegal. What year is this again?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim Whelan

      Please tell me how , in your right mind, you can respect Castro.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. cnetsoon

    People who say what happened to free speech don't know what they are talking about. You have free speech as far as the USA is concerned. With regard to your employer, that's never been the case. are you people really that uneducated?

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

    Republican "freedom" strikes again. What a bunch of Self righteous Taliban they are.

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

    I don't give a hoot what your opinion is on Castro. No one should be punished for it, especially if asked. It's not like he brought the topic up on his own. This just happened to Kirk Cameron. Answer a question honestly these days, you'll pay with a backlash over-reaction from all the people whose feelings are wounded that you don;t agree with them. This is consumer culture censorship and it is just as insidious as Castro's limits on free speech in Cuba. The irony of punishing a man for utilizing his first ammendment rights regarding a totalitarian regime is a bit too rich in BS for my blood. What disgusting hypocrites his team managment is.

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

      Isn't it also a first amendment right for the Cuban community to stand up for themselves & speak out against Guillan for his pro Castro remarks?
      Guillan is not going to jail for his remarks but, if he were in Cuba he would be tossed in prison if he made anti Castro comments.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. jim kirwan

    the rich cuban-american republicans still rule s. miami and the cuban policy for the the U.S. I a free man a U.S. citizen and I cannot visit cuba because of these a__holes. I can go to vietnam where we lost many men but I can`t go to Cuba. A country we have never been at war with. Screw you old cubans, get a life. The young Cubans dont feel the same way. I will go to Cuba.
    Jimbo

    April 10, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Doesitmatter?

    So much for freedom of speech huh?? US, it's mind boggling how deluded your country is but yet your so patriotic. I don't understand for the life of me

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

    This is disgusting. Why can't we speak freely in the U.S.? If Cuba wants to have a communist government, let them. Let's stop interfering. They have a better health care system than we do and the majority of the population is much better off with Castro than they were with Bautista. If it weren't for the U.S. embargo, Cuba would be just fine. Shame on us.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. Terry Moore

    So, no First Amendment protection for him...?... What the hell, I too have to respect Castro for a lot of things he did, and revile him for a lot of other things... However he stayed the course, he stuck to his beliefs, and he did do some good to a peasant population that had been fiercely exploited under a US backed regime. That he is something of a dinosaur watching a changing world demolish some of his ideals...well that's life... Nevertheless, a rather impressive man....

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

    The guy probably has a clause in his contract that allows this kind of disciplining. Most employers could not get away with this. In 1981 (was it?) when Reagan was shot, a guy who heard about it at work and cheered was fired. He sued and received damages because his 1st Amendment rights were violated by his employer. Fortunately in America most of us can still speak our minds. And in any case, what he said about Castro wasn't that off base. He said he respected him for being a survivor, not for the things he has done in Cuba.

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

      Your first amendment rights keep the government from curbing your freedom not the consequences in a private workplace for saying something. If I own a business, then I can say what is acceptable. As to the Reagan story you mentioned, please provide a link.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. What?

    the owners of the Marlins should be ashamed suspending someone for voicing their opinion. How ridiculous, what's next, being fined for looking at someone the wrong way??? Come on, this is AMerica, isn't it???? Oh that's right, we are now in the land of everyone is offended by everything, I forgot, in that land, no one has any right!!!!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cuban Joe

    Are you kidding me? What did he say that was so wrong? Besides, doesn't he have the right to voice an opinion. What a load of crap. I feel so bad for him and have lost all respect for the Marlin Organization. I was born and raised in Miami and moved out of there because of nonsense like that. Those old cubans want to dictate what people can say, then they should move back to Cuba.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ben

    I love all of those who think this is some government issue or the man keeping Castro and anyone who likes him down. There is a huge Cuban-American community in Miami. They make their feelings known by where they spend or don't spend their dollars. They hate Castro and might not come to games. Simple as that...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  14. matt

    I respect Castro and I think his policies are wrong-headed, what country is this where you can't respect someone of your choosing?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      You can, but there may be consequences.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. ck

    Well Miami, you wanted him now you have him good luck.

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