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. B. Edwards

    Wow! Imagine if he said he loved Castro.

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

    Can't believe this guy was punished for stating an opinion...it's like we live in Cuba!

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

      I agree and couldn't have said it better.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • To Be A Muse

      That's what I was thinking. Since when does an opinion get treated as if he committed a horrible crime? I understand that others may not like his opinion, but he wasn't trying to make them all go back to Cuba. Geez.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • rlr1

      I can't either. This just shows how powerful the Cuban lobby has gotten in especially Florida. It is high time that the United States ends the Cuban preference and treats them as any other illegal immingrate.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • VinceProfessor

      Exactly. This is a disgrace. Ironic that people who are punishing him are doing exactly what Castro does: punishing people for their opinions. We are much worse than Cuba!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. G.Lew

    Are you kidding me?! Can you not say you respect someone for a particular action even though that person is an @ss? I've hear people say they respected Hitler for his ability to motivate the citizens of Germany, but I didn't assume that person was a Hitler supporter. What a crock! He should definitely fight that suspension!

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

    Freedom of speech? What freedom of speech? You make a political ststement and you lose your income? This is not right, no matter how you feel about Castro.

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

    Whatever happened to free speech? I don't agree with the sentiments, but it's his right to feel that way and to voice his opinion.

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

      Freedom of speech is alive and well....He wasn't arrested, was he? Read the amendment. It's very clear.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. What?

    Ozzie should sue and the Marlins would deserve it!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. A.L. Humanist

    The guy was suspended for having a political opinion? Isn't that the kind of thing they do in Cuba?

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

      I agree.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. maggie

    how would you react and the country if the Yankee's manager said that he admires Bill Laden? its the same thing.
    there are things that you can not said, even though we have freedom of speech.

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

      Who's Bill Laden?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • greg s

      No, actually this isn't even remotely the same. First off, Ozzie just said he respected him for being able to live so long and stay in power despite the fact that so many wanted to kill him. Second, Fidel Castro never was in charge of any terrorist attacks on the USA that killed thousands of innocent people.

      I'm not saying Fidel is a good guy, or that I love him (frankly I don't care), but making this comparison makes you sound... dumb?

      As for the people crying about Freedom of speech, you should probably learn a bit more about what that actually means. Freedom of speech means you're allowed to say (most) anything you want without being punished criminally. This doesn't mean that people won't think you're a raging moron, or that your employer can't take action as a result of what you said.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Andres C

      He did not said he admired. He said he respected, and from the Spanish to English translation the term "respect" has a somewhat different meaning. In Spanish the term respect is used to acknowledge rather than admire. I believe that what Guillen was trying to say was that he acknowledged Fidel staying in power for so long despite so many attempts to take him down. He should definitely sue, he has a right to express his opinion, he is not President Obama or Hillary Clinton for God's sake.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • joeblowski

      who is bill laden?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Mayberry

    Since when did expressing a political opinion subject someone to possibly be fired? Scary.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Juan

    What happened to "Freedom of Speech"!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Faithe

    This is insanity. This guy was just expressing his opinion. He may be totally wrong, but doesn't he have the freedom of speech? You can really suspend a guy for saying something that is unpopular? I thought we lived in the U.S.!

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

      And George ZImmerman was expressing his reight to protect himself

      April 10, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. mr

    remember when freedom of speech used to be accepted and even...encouraged?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike Lake Orion Michigan

    One word. Uneducated!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. sbp

    TerryMoore: his First Amendment rights have been completely protected. Unless you're telling me the Marlins are the government.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. Saint_John

    So much for freedom of speech...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank S

      For the 5 millionth time –

      Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from criticism for what you say. Guillen would have been jailed otherwise.

      Now stop with the "OH NO OUR FREEDOMS!!111" histrionics.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
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