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. Florida2

    Ozzie says he is not dumb but he should admit that he is when it comes to this. Accept humility. Since there is a pending MLB review, take them to task first and say MLB players and coaches should get sensitivity training. If MLB does give training, then you are really dumb regardless your excuse that your intent was lost in translation.

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

      That's bnecause it DID get lost in translation...
      Anyone who doesn't see this is just as dumb.

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

    Corporate Fascism. It's essentially the same as being punished for speaking out online. I believe a police officer was recently suspended for saying something online about Trayvon Martin. It's not just speech that employers are assaulting. They want to control every element of their employees behaviour so that in ultimately leads to the companies success. Instead of making machines to do your job they are making their employees machines. This is the modren slavery folks. Give your employees a wage just enough to keep them from rallying, keep them tamed while eek every penny out of them.

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

      Well said. This isn't the country I was brought up to believe in. Cuba provides medical care which does not threaten to bankrupt patients as it does in the USA. Dictatorships are to be deplored, however. And that's why I join you in condemning the corporate rule in America. Read "Friendly Fascism" by Bertram Gross.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Freeman

    I can't believe the Marlins are punishing Guillen for non work related speech. This is unAmerican! Contrary to the comments that some idiots are posting, this has EVERYTHING to do with free speech! The Marlin owners should be ashamed. I've lived in Florida for over 40 years and I'm tired of the tyranny of the Castro haters in Miami.

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

      The Marlins are punishing him because they play in a community that has a large Cuban following. If those people choose not to follow because of what Ozzie said then it is bad for business. It's the power of the dollar that is causing them to suspend him

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

      With respect to the Travone Martin fiasco I've been posting "Boycott the racist state of Florida". Now I post "Boycott the fascist state of Florida". Yow what a horrible place. They gave us Bush. Enough is enough already!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • DianeL

      I honestly don't know the whole history of the Castro/Cuba conflict, though I do know enough to be sensitive to the Cuban-American community and their hate of all things Castro. That being said a person shouldn't be suspended for saying what he believes. It is un-american. I know public figures should be smart enough to watch what they say as many things get either taken out of context, exaggerated or just taken wrong. Then they go viral. But for him to be suspended for what is to me a free speech issue seems just plain wrong.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • eastcoast Mike

      Wrong again....Read the amendment and tell me where it says the Marlins couldn't fire him today.
      Tell your boss or your customer to F-off and let me know what happens. You won't get arrested but you will lose your job.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. lefty avenger

    Why should Ozzie be suspended over personal political beliefs? If you like socialism and think that exploitative capitalist oligarchies are not all that then you should be allowed to say so. Free speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. RainCityLady

    Who owns the Marlins? Of course, it IS Florida, so I shouldn't be surprised. They should be sued for civil rights violations. There is nothing wrong with what he said, and he has a perfect right to say it. I hope the ACLU addresses this.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. MyCountry

    I know for a fact that it's mostly the Latino community that will be offended, and to be honest, they need to get over it. In this country we respect and relish freedom of speech and the right to state one's opinion without fear of reprisal. This is the American way! Those who disagree or would have us censor our opinions because it isn't consistent with what they believe such as "I GREW UP IN CUBA, SUFFERED ALOT, ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH MY OPINIONS ON CASTRO AND CUBA MUST BE PUNISHED", can leave my country ASAP!!

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


    April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Doc

    We are to the point that your employer controls your life 24/7. If you say ANYTHING they don't like at any time or any place, they can fire you. Wow. Nice to know that all our service men & women have died for nothing.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Ozzie has been mangling the English launguage as long as I have known him...
    That the Time magazine writer would do this smacks of sensationalism.
    Congrats, Time.
    You're on the same level as the Enquirer.

    There are many who mangle the English language, and it is the only language they *know*!

    Leave Ozzie alone.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Josh Perez

    What the heeeeeeeck!!??!!?? I don't like Castro, but, whatever happened to FREE SPEECH???? Are we becoming like him?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. se

    Underlines the hypocrisy that exists in American freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. richard


    April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jpck20

    There is 'Freedom of Speech' and then there is 'Responsible Speech'. A lot of you people commenting on here should learn just what that means.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. Definitions

    Everyone is looking to blame someone or watch them fail. "Respect" doesn't exclusively mean you admire someone in a positive way. It can simply be a feeling of regard (e.g., "I respect her decision"). But in this age of political correctness, it's best to say nothing at all.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. Buck

    That's the USA. Home of the free... Where stating an opinion gets you suspended. I guess freedom of speech is a right you guys have finally given up.
    Everything the USA has ever stood for has fallen apart. This is a sign that you are no longer the leader of the free world. I suggest all Americans read 1984 by Orwell.

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

      Most Americans don't read, and those that do focus exclusively about teenage wizards and/or vampires.

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

      Freedom of speech is a right, but it isn't an exemption from the consequences of what you say.

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

      Here we go again.... Freedom of Speech says that the government or any individual can't prevent you from speaking your mind. However, just like anything else, there are results that come from your actions/speech. If a politician says something I don't agree with, I have the right to not vote for him despite his freedom of speech. If a store owner says something crazy, I have the right to no longer do business with him. And if an employee says something offending, the employer has the right to say that they no longer want that individual as an employee. Trust me, in any country out there if you walk in to the bosses office and start insulting him/her and saying offensive things about him/her or others, you will have to deal with the consequences.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
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