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. sparky

    What happened to freedom of speach. He has the right to say what he wants. I'm sure he is not the only one in South Florida who admires Fidel.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. Will


    Ship all the WHINY CUBANS in Miami BACK!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack Cubano

      Yep ship the Cubans back to Cuba to get a taste of Castro y arroz con chuleta.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Mmmm... I love me some aroz con chuleta. Do they deliver?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      Miami is what it is because of the cubans...Everybody loves Miami not some red neck trailer trash city....Lets ship back from the hole you came from..

      April 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • ray

      this is our city willy baby. We keep watch we always will young old......feel the power of this still fully operational battlestation the cuban exile community. Today you white moderates.....

      got a huge taiste of it right up the middle....

      Dont F with us again....!!....

      lesson for today...

      carry on

      April 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ivan

    Did we toss the 1st Amendment out today?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      That was the first thing I thought as well.
      You don't have to like Castro but staying in power so long is pretty impressive regardless of what he did durning that time.
      Political Correctness has got to go!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Yes it was thrown out with the ceremonial first pitch.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • captain obvious

      Marlins are a private company dummy.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      no, we didn't toss it out. that's because the Marlins aren't the government. first amendment doesnt have anything to do with companies like baseball teams just the govt.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. blah9999

    Nothing wrong with respecting your enemy.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Colin in Florida

    Apparently, the Marlins owners have never heard of the First Amendment, or are they are like Castro, and just don't give a hot about an individual's rights-just money.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mars

      Please do some research on the 1st Amendment, Ozzie has the right to speak and not be jailed for his views. Last I checked Ozzie was a free man but his poor choice of words have landed him in hot water again. When you speak your mind you should be ready to deal with the consequences because not everyone will agree with you. Foot-N-Mouth is a terminal disease for Ozzie.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Political Man

      Apparently you don't understand the first amendment which is a limit on GOVERNMENT limiting free speech. The Marlins have a right to say terminate Guillen if they so choose. And I've got no ax to grind with Guillen, I like the man. If he says he's sorry and that things came out not as he meant it, I believe him. He's a straight shooter. What if Guillen had say he respects the BTK killer because people have been trying to catch him for a long time and the SOB is still out there? Or that he respected Hitler because he survived several assassination attempts? You don't think the Marlins could terminate Guillen on the grounds that he doesn't represent their values? Ridiculous.

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

      Political man: Personally, I'd rather go to jail for a day or two for expressing my beliefs against the govt, vs. losing my job for expressing beliefs my employer doesn't like. The problem with people like you is that your hair-splitting does not take into account how wholly reliant Americans are on private corps, from our jobs, the media, our cellphones, private schools...after a while free speech is a moot topic b/c if private corps can limit us, then we can't say anything anyway.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. social network

    Wow...so much for speaking your mind and perhaps having a bit of an issue with alcohol. I hope he takes this up with his union rep.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. David

    It is called freedom of speech. he shouldn't apologize. He is free to decide who he respects, likes or admires. The fact that Cubans in Miami hate Castro doesn't mean everyone has to dislike him. Yes he is a terrible dictator but aren't the Cubans doing the same now, expecting EVERYONE to hate Castro. I can care less for Castor, he is a jerk.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack Cubano

      IIt seems that there is no free speech, the Cubans decide what you can and cannot say.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      your wrong what his trying to do is win the fans back. Miami is 95% cubans if they don't like him his biscally out of a job. Any company would do the same. I'm cuban born and raised in Miami and I can care less what he says but I won't spend another dime on the marlins while that animal is working there.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Free speech has nothing to do with it. Marlins are a private company. Free speech protects us from our government not private individuals/companies.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Reality

    I don't think it will pass in Miami. the Marlins will eventually have part ways with him.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mavent

    Welcome to America, the Land of the Free.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin

    You're suspending him for his own political opinion?


    April 10, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Uhh...wait a minute...let me see.....Yep, that's right!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. Right Knight

    Freedom of speech is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Sure, it was a stupid remark, but given Ozzie's typical mindset, what else can you expect from him?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. Eff the Koobans

    Chalk another one up for the MIAMI CUBAN MAFIA, haters of free speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Travis

    What ever happened to Freedom of speech. It may not have been appropriate or something people like to hear (including me), but I think it is a crime to punish someone over an opinion.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      Not if your company is going to lose lots of money....Yes you can say whatever you want but your the front face for a company you really need to be careful on how you say things.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. guest

    stupid overreaction. This should not have been an issue.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • drewrey88

      You must be Canadian.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Enrique

    The Cubans that came to Miami from Cuba are a bunch of fascists, stooges, and criminals who resented the fact that Castro overthrew the brutal fascist muppet Batista.

    Remember a few years ago when they were burning American flags because the US sent Elian Gonzalez to live with his father? That sums it up - they have no loyalty to Cuba, they have no loyalty to the US, they only have loyalty to themselves.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Long Live the People's Revolution

      Miami Cuban Mafia is the most corrupt banana republic regime in the US.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • East of Eden

      Well said my brother.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
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