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. Commonsense

    Damn our country is in serious trouble when a man can not express what he really thinks. I like Castro myself. "He aint never called me Ni–er".

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

      No...Instead he would dig a hole behind that you would conveniently fall into after he shot you in your face.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • East of Eden


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

      Believe it or not being called the N word is not the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Compared to being a slave or living in a country with no freedom or opprotunity is much worse. I'll take being called any name vs. being a slave or living in Cuba. Doubt me? Try living in Cuba for a while. You'll be dying to get back here and here some a hole call you the N word.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • G.T.

      Hey Commonsense, just remember this, common sense are not common in America anymore, people jump any bandwagon they can find, without using any sense at all! Freedom of Speech is not free anymore!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. James PDX

    As far as I can tell, he didn't even say he admired Castro as a person. He called him an SOB and said he admired that he was able to stay in power for 6 decades. Where's the harm? Doesn't exist. Everyone has to be so damn PC these days that the PC police won't even allow you to speak your opinions openly without trying to destroy your life and livelihood. The real bad guys are those trying to cause harm to another person just because they disagree with his opinion.

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

      Admire? Respect? You've got to be kidding me! There is NOTHING to respect or admire about Castro. Of course Guillen has the right to speak his mind unlike the people of Cuba who has suffered under Castro's rule. A stupid remark made by a stupid person.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. the_dude

    Miami Marlins??? What a stupid name for a baseball team.

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

    I kind of agree with Ozzie. Castro has done nothing wrong in my lifetime, his country is not much worse off than the USA.

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

    count me in on the freedom of speech stance!!! You can hang me if you want !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. sepultura13

    Gee – where are the people screeching about his 'Freedom of Speech' rights? Oh, wait, that's right...he isn't a white celebrity spouting something racist! I almost forgot about the selective outrage that's always applied to occurrences like these.
    Carry on...

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

    Yes, Fidel is a dbag, but don't join him by suspending Guillen. Oh, look, now you're REPRESSING FREE SPEECH! Congratulations! See how easy that was?

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

    I'm really glad I live in a FREE country where I don't have to hear someone say something i don't like without him getting punished. Just like Russia, China and Cuba. Good ol' USA.

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

      You will get more than just a suspension if you lived in Cuba... or China... or Russia. Yes, be glad you live in the good 'ol USA.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. be Wildered

    yet another reason my family does not watch sports, let politics lie in the gutter where it was born.

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

    The man's 100% right. He should have received a bonus! Sometimes, Americans are totally lost!

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

    A republican, Grassley, called the President of the United States, "stupid"!!!! Why isn't HE suspended? THAT would actually be a GOOD thing!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. Michelle

    Why are so many people saying that his freedom of speech was violated? Did he get arrested or killed for his comments? If he was in Cuba and he made a pro USA comment at the very least he would have been detained. Guillen has a right to say whatever he wants, he also has to face consequences for his comments...people who disagree with him also have a right to voice how they feel. I have heard his apology and I think he is ashamed and embarrassed. In my opinion, this is freedom of speech at it's best. People can't just say whatever they want and not expect those listening to have the same right to express their views.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. DL

    I think Ozzie was contrite and to the point in his apology. Declaring his sincere interest in helping both the Latin and Miami community was a huge plus for his press conference.
    I accept his sincerety. It's a rarity these days in sports to see someone admit publically he made a mistake and ask for a second chance.
    But Ozzie knows he's got to watch his tongue from now on. He can't keep sounding off and creating controversy particularly on sensitive issues in Miami, and that's probably where I differ from the folks here talking about freedom of speech and so forth.
    Hopefully Ozzie will stick to baseball. If Ozzie wants to talk politics he should run for office.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. fairwinds

    So much for freedom of speech and the first amendment. This is ridiculous. It was a joke – maybe not a great one – but a joke either way. the bottom line is that since we don't live under castro, we're allowed to say whatever we please. i think the marlins have forgotten that. they should be penalized themselves.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. richard

    fascist tyranny...shameful!

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

      Exactly, Corporate Usa Fascism. Watch what you say, the american moral thought police are out for you.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      Agree. And the 60 year boycott of Cuba has been a total failure. It's insane to continue that policy. Open up Cuba to American influence and they'll be corrupted forever. It's called killing with kindness.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
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