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. John

    Castro, and Cuba at least has a better health care system for those who can't afford it. Also, they have a higher literacy rate than we have in our own country. Its like a poltican can't speak bad about Iseral because you'll lose the support and money from that group, just like in Flordia you can't be positive at all of Castro. It ok for Cubans to flee their country come to America and stay, yet Mexico which is as bad or even worst people come across the boarder we send them back because our government is friends with Mexico and not Cuba or Castro. The Cuban embargo we have hasn't made the lives of Cubans any better.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • East of Eden

      Great point.

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

    Bob Mayberry, do you think you could get a job as Press Secretary for the Republican National Committee and then publicly support the Democrats without getting fired?

    It seems 90% of you have no idea what the Bill of Rights means.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Oz

    wow, what happened to free speech? Or is it acceptable speech

    April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • East of Eden


      April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • syed ahmed


      April 10, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. army medic

    how in the world can this be possible....it is not a violation of the 1st ammendment because the GOV is not involved..it is however and encroachment on his civil liberties and the Marlins organization should be ashamed ...not saying what he said was right, however individuals like myself and many many before me have worked our asses off giving him the right to say what he feels without persecution..i am deeply saddened by the lynch mob that seems to be attackin a "man" not a God of leader or nations a "man" for sharing an opinion

    April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jungle Mentality

    I thought all of south Florida supported Castro.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. Raxtich

    Wow. Just, wow. This is what we have become as a country?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  7. BigSir

    The US version of 100 lashes...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. stan

    Free speech?!? Oh my, how far the usa has fallen!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. jorgesedano

    Bye bye our good friend Ozzie Guilllen

    April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. syed ahmed


    April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. JoePub

    This suspension is way over the top.

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

    Welcome to the American dream–
    a billionaire using public funds
    to construct
    a private playground
    for the rich and powerful.

    David Samson told a local business council that he thinks Miamians
    are stupid. Samson talked with WSVN to clarify his remarks. Don't worry
    guys, he doesn't think Miamians are especially stupid. He wants to
    clarify that he thinks Americans are just stupid and lazy in general

    April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Aaron

    Seems pretty dumb. People are taking this far too seriously, and if they actually read what he said it wasn't that bad. He didn't say he respected the way Castro ruled or how he lead the country, just the FACT that he was able to stay in power for 60 years with so much going against him. It is possible to have respect for people you dislike. Marlins should have just ignored the idiots protesting to get him fired and focused on baseball. It was dumb for him to say in the town he was in, but the people there are just as dumb.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bleedingheart

    Many years ago I was taking a tour in the Dominican Republic, our guide said "We have freedom of speech, you can say anything you want." On every third or fourth corner there was a jeep with a machine gun mounted on it. My thought was "maybe, but I wouldn't say it to loud." It's coming soon to the USA.

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

    I'm amazed that so few of the posters on this page understand what Freedom of Speech means....He is free to say whatever he wants without fear of incarceration. That doesn't mean he can't be fired for saying something derogatory.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Actually that's exactly what free speech means, you can express an opinion without fear of retribution. Maybe you should move to China and see how they define free speech!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • eastcoast Mike

      Jim...WRONG. It doesn't say retribution. Incarceration means to be locked up..... Punished by the state.
      Go tell your boss or your customers to F-off and see how long you keep your job.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • manuel

      As a Cuban American that left that hell hole called "Castro's Cuba" I am amused by Mr. Guillen's remarks. He joins a whole slew of misinformed, gullible people like Oliver Stone who praise the thug Cuban regime while not having to live there. Mr. Guillen should not be suspended for his opinions. This action is petty and gives the irrelevant Castro more publicity.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      Agreed, Mike. However, I haven't seen anything he said that could reasonably be construed as derogatory, unless you count him calling Castro an SOB. He stated that he admired a specific quality in Castro. Any person who can accomplish what Castro did must have some positive or admirable qualities. No doubt Hitler had some too, or he wouldn't have come so close to conquering Europe. Admitting that you admire a positive quality of a bad person doesn't mean you condone the bad things they may have done. That's overly PC folk wanting to punish him for their own inferences. Grow up, people. No one was harmed in the making of this big mouth's poorly thought out statement.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • G.T.

      Thank You Brother, the freedom of speech is no longer free in America! The statement Ozzie made was his and his alone, we can disagree with what he said, but he should'nt be punished for what he said, in other words, watch the words you speak, because you don't know which ones you may have to eat!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
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