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. MikeR

    Who is the Communist now? The freedom of speech in the US is only good for Hollywood gossip.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. bfd007

    How sad, people should not go to any baseball games in the third world of little Havana we used to have free speech in America but it appears that is gone. This guy should never have said sorry he should have told the Cubans to pound sand this is America and one should be able to say anything they want most of the Cubans cannot even speak English nor do they try to learn it. Really who cares what a bunch of Cuban's think ? Going to little Havana is like going to the zoo.

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

    Fired because he admires a communist leader ? What ? Are no longer different from Russia or Cuba that you can be fired because of your political discussion ? Oh man.....

    April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    If you have an opinion you need to keep it to yourself or get suspended. The American Way........

    April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. cw

    People posting about Freedom of Speech.... Please educate yourself on what the phrase means!

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

      Forget it....its a lost cause. Its easier to scream FREE SPEECH than it is to actually read the amendment.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. dwp19542004

    hey so ....i respect castro way more the boy king...at least castro knows who and what he is....the boy king has no clue what he is....unless you want to buy one of his votes then he will sell you one or more

    April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. tostonesfix

    For the love of God....HIS SUSPENSION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FREEDOM OF SPEECH. The Miami Marlins are a for profit company, not the government.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. TC

    Are you people moronic? The Marlins aren't suspending him out of a denial of his right to free speech, they're suspending him because they have no choice. A boycott of Latin-Americans would be disastrous to their club and their community. As drastic as that is, they know this is their only option right now (cowardly as it may seem to some of you), and Ozzie is their sacrifice. And Faithe, it's not the government that's suspending him, or denying him his Freedom of Speech, it's a baseball team. They have a right to delegate as they please.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    I suppose everyone missed the part where Ozzie says he *thinks* in Spanish, which is normal for a person who knows more than one language, if English is their second language...
    There is also responsible journalism, Jpck20, which the author pointedly ignored.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. D1514S

    Whatever happened to free speech? So if I say I do not like Obama or Romney I can lose my job, jailed, or executed? This is another news story that should never have been a news story. Grow a pair!!

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

    USA USA USA! Our country needs to stop giving into the influence of backward foreign cultures settling in our nation! This is America, the land of the free! Not the outpost of fascist foreigners!

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

      Batista, who MANY of the "refugees" that fled to Miami supported, was as bad, if not worse, than Castro. Batista had ties to the Rich elite and the American Mafia but very little support from the poor. That's why they had a revolution! His comment, anywhere but Miami, wouldn't be so controversial. But, I guess, if one lived in an Argentinian town, populated with ex-Nazi's, saying Hitler was a bad guy would be a No-No!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeffbaseball

    I think its absurd that Ozzie had to aplologize over this statement. Castro has lasted for years. Get over it. The real apologies should be coming from Miami Cubans who are racists against African-Amricans. Where's the apologies from them?

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

    This is another prime example of making comments without analyzing the impact these comments create. Always, Always,think about what you are going to say. 99% we don't think what we say.

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

      he was joking, jeez

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

      Since when, in America, do you need prior approval to state your opinion? At our current pace, we'll be more communist than Castro ever was.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. IggyDad

    Obviously political correctness is as rampant on the Right as on the Left.

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

    We are no longer a free society, we are crippled in that anything we say can be used to destroy us. What a joke we have become. I see nothing wrong with what he said in the least.

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

      scott free – cuba was never Free go back 2 history class u idiot

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

      What Happened to FREE Speech? I may not agree with him BUT he has every right to say it.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • pc is not the way

      Wow!!! He should not even apologize. The US has caused waaaaaaaay more pain and suffering than Castro could ever hope to accomplish, eg, Hiroshima, genocide of Native Americans, "buying" , aka stealing, states from Mexico, arming Indonesians to commit genocide, and various other atrocities.

      But that's not the point. The point is, that the pros outweigh the cons of America's history, and one of those pros is free speech.

      This wasn't even bad. So what if he respected Castro?!? Castro isn't even relevant anymore, as he is in his last years on this planet. Also, it's not like he was saying anything offensive.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jude

      Funny how the First Amendment is applied to certain statements but not others. This guy is CRUCIFIED for making a fairly innocent statement about Cuba but people are allowed to call gays and blacks all kinds of names and are allowed to incite violence against groups of people and NOTHING IS DONE!!! What's happening to the U.S.??? Looks like the neo-con nut jobs REALLY HAVE taken over!!! Boycott the Marlins and email their sponsors and refuse to buy their products!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
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