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. SMU

    To summarize his retraction, 'Please don't kick me out of the country. I know I'd be selling fruit on the sidewalk if it wasn't for the US'.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. vinautomatic

    Blown way out of proportion. Really stupid that he gets suspended for nothing.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. What?

    Ozzie, why are you apologizing, that is such BS!!! Don't apologize for speaking your mind, as far as I know, you are still allowed to do that (to some extent) in America.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brian

    What gets lost in translation when a local story goes national? I'm not native to South Florida but have lived here for seven years now. There are a few things that EVERYONE in South Florida can rally around and that's the hatred towards Castro and his dictatorship. If the manager of a toy company stated that pedophilia was cool, there would be a backlash from the consumers and either the company would fail or the manager fired. The Marlins are trying to re-brand themselves and this is not what they had in mine. With out apologies and some sort of slap on the wrist, the team stands to lose their fan base or in other words, their consumers.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Well what I find disgusting about your statement is a lot of people died providing him the freedom to speak his mind, and that he was made to retract his statement because a few people were upset over his comments and the Team management was afraid to stand up for freedom of speech.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Phillip Bunn

    WEll . . . . . .I guess to hell with free speach. The fact is Castro has representated Cuba much better than our gambling/resort monoplies of the 1950's, but then again, America didn't make any "real" money with Castro at the helm, and that is what's it's all about: Nothing but f–kin' money!!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. SUE

    It is a shame when in a free society you can be removed from your job for voicing an opinion there was nothing wrong in what he said.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. What?

    THE MARLINS SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES!!!!!!! IF someone was offended, TOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. Roseann

    This use to be a free country – – – I may not like what someone says, but I will defend their right to say it.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Tad Pole

      Yeah.. I totally agree.. What have we become?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    Freedom of speech ?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. godsturn

    Don't we have free speech in this country?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • bill

      Sure we do, but even though he may not face civil or criminal prosecution for his supidity for sharing his comments with the rest of America, he will be tried in the court of public opinion. And the public has a right to be angry at his comments and to act against the Marlins for employing this fool. The 1st Amendment protects your right to say it but that doesn't mean that you should or that the greater public is going to support or agree with you.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. bill

    Is this guy really a good manager and/or a great baseball mind?? I just can't believe he has the talent or skills that can overcome his apparent stupidity, which seems to be pervasive.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. Is this America or what?

    The only mistake Guillen made was in apologizing and not suing the Marlins. His original comments about Castro were spot on.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. jdoe

    No big deal. They'll reinstate him after a couple of games.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacob Fier

      Lets fight for democracy in the mid-east because the people do not have freedom of speech. We love America, the only democratic country in the world. Sorry! I forgot to mention Israel. Children, please do not throw stones at the neighbour's house. Thank you.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacob Fier

      Lets fight for democracy in the mid-east because the people do not have freedom of speech. We love America, the only democratic country in the world. Sorry! I forgot to mention Israel. Children, please do not throw stones at the neighbour's house. Thank you. I RESPECT PRESIDENT obama

      April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    Did you see the huge protest in Miami? No? Probably because it was just 10 strong and those 10 living in Cuba for 30 years before Castro took over in the 70's.

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

      70's ? . . .History not your strong point ?, if your going to comment at least get your facts straight.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. richard

    He should stand his ground. Other players take drugs, including performance-enhancing substances, get in bar fights, shoot guns and have less sanctions than Guillen. Castro isn't the problem–the U.S. embargo is the problem! Free Cuba! Let's go get some cigars...

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