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. Doc Deb

    Political correctness going bizarre. A congressman can call our president stupid, not a word from anyone but a baseball player makes a political offensive comment and loses 5 days pay? Wow we are messed up.

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

    Yep, the Cuban fascists exiled in Florida don't believe in your right to free speech esp if you speak nice about someone they've spent an entire lifetime creating a bogeyman out of.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. chris davenport

    This is dumb: (1) What do his remarks have to do with baseball, i.e., his job? (2) What happened to freedom of speech? (3) His remarks weren't even complimentary to Castro - he called him an SOB. Why are the Politically Correct Police running amok over this??

    April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. yuniel16

    I think many people here are missing the point. Joe Smith from the street can say he loves Osama Bin Laden and no one would care. Now if the General manager of the NY Yankees were to say that Osama Bin Laden is his idol, people will flip until he is fired, same thing if a commissioner were to say that he praises Hitler, the Jewish community would flip. Its the same thing. One thing is freedom of speech, another is insensitivity to other's suffering. Most here will fight for freedom of speech in this case because obviously Castro has not personally affected them. But if it was Bin Laden, I bet many will have said fire him! Finally, Miami is predominantly Cuban, if the Marlins want to keep their profits, they need to mend things with the community. It's called damage control. (which by the way, Miamians had to foot the bill for this stadium)

    April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. denroy

    Absolute joke – he has done nothing at all wrong. This PC BS will be the death of the US

    April 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. euphoniusmunk

    Huh? Why was Ozzie suspended? The quote from the story certainly wasn't grounds for suspension. What the hell is going on here?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. WhoDat

    This has nothing to do with baseball...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. CNN stinks

    He said he respected that Castro was able to stay alive. Not that he "respected Fidel Castro's 60-year rule over Cuba." Words and intent matter. Stop changing the story, CNN.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Williams

    Cuban Americans have had far too much political influence here in Florida.

    For example, as an American citizen they have made it difficult for me to travel to Cuba if I wished (most people fly out of the US, THEN catch a flight to Cuba). Cuban cigars are confiscated. I once watched US border patrol agents confiscate a kid's cigars at the CANADIAN border because they were Cuban cigars. Really?

    I understand their hatred of all things Castro, and they are free to hate. BUT their views do not reflect mine and their views should not restrict my freedoms. Enough already.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff read history

      Jeff- Its hard to travel to Cuba because the US govt. banned direct flights and placed an embargo on Cuban goods during the Cold War. Cuban-Americans have nothing to do with it, our country's hatred of communism is to blame for that one boss.

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

      Can we say the same thing about the Jewish Community? It's America, money/votes talk!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. Deathstalker

    What a load of crap. Just because he thought Castro was a good leader of Cuba he gets suspended for it.. Wow what a pussified world we live in. Crap total crap!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Andy Hangley

      Did I wake up in North Korea this morning??? He has an opinion, what is the big deal? Face it, it is amazing that Castro has lasted so long.

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

      He did not even say that Castro was a good leader. He said he respected the fact he survived 60 years and called him SOB! I agree with you. Total crap!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. wow you people are dumb

    Y'all realize that its not a freedom of speech issue, right? Sure he has the right to say most anything he wants, however, the patrons of the Marlins have the right to not attend games because the manager of the team voices opinions they vehemently disagree with. The marlins don't want to be associated with Castro in Miami, so they suspend the offending manager. Imagine the owner of a Kosher store saying he admired Hitler. Sure he has a right to say it, but would Jewish folks give him business? I don't think so.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark from Canada

      Castro is not Hitler. It is about freedom of speech you fool. He was punished for something he said. He was not free to say what he wanted to say. Amazing how people have become programmed to see an apple and call it an orange. Such is the way in America, if you repeat anything enough times eventually people start to believe it otherwise.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • a to the

      Im not sure why people think freedom of speech is a right to say whatever you want. There are certain limits, read up on it, you don't have a caret blanche check to say whatever your want. I agree with the statements above, I mean supporting a dictator that has murdered people for expressing their beliefs through "speech" is not really what the freedom of speech is about, there is really no purpose other than inciting lawless action (which is what Guillen is proposing), yet people on the comments section throwing around freedom of speech concerns is comedic. So let me put this together, supporting and respecting a murderer who has suppressed freedom of speech for over 60 years plus the american public throwing some buzz words that they frankly have no knowledge of how it works, ahh yes we are in the presence of ignorance. So lets allow someone to support the ultimate violator of free speech and not allow him to have any repercussions for his public statements, which I might add have a different effect than a private individual. Yes, good job everyone, way to make an educated decision.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    I know this isn't necessarily a freedom of speech issue as I don't know the details of his contract. However, I feel like his punishment is a bit excessive. The Cuban American leadership holds Cubans hostage into believing that Castro is such a horrible leader and that all Cubans should be Republican. The fact is those Cubans who immigrated to the United States were very bad people themselves.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Todd

    Hello folks.......HIS FREE SPEECH WAS NOT VIOLATED!!!!! What would happen to you if you went up to your boss and called him a "DI(K"? I'm guessing you would be fired. You wouldn't get arrested because you have the right to express your opinion that doesn't mean that your company has to put up with what you say.

    Pull your heads out of the sand folks

    April 10, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. cbeckeraz

    Time for him to sober up....

    April 10, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gwynne

    FREEDOM OF SPEECH, yeah sure only if we like what you are sayin'

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