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. rickwh

    This is not a freedom of speech thing. Those protections only apply to the government limiting speech not non-government organizations. As far as Castro goes- I myself truly admire the guy. He's survived every attempt on his life and outlived all his enemies. You can't help but admire that. As far as the Cubans in America go – quit your whining. Most of you never lived in Cuba and those who did are too old to remember much. Personally I can't even understand how you became the voting block that you did. You've embraced the embargo for 50 years in effect making it so much harder for those still living in Cuba. Have you ever considered that you moronic fools?

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

      Words matter. The Marlins have every right to discipline an employee who doesn't represent them in the way they see fit.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. Political Correctness run wild

    Heaven forbid the man should actually say what he thinks. Make one think we're in a police state where you have to watch what you say in public. Just saying....

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

    I respect Castro too and said so many times, but I never was suspended or fired for it. OOPS, I don't live in the USA

    April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. think100

    wait, why was he suspended? he did nothing wrong. nothing.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. iamdeadlyserious

    Hold on.

    You can get suspended from playing sports for stating an opinion publicly? Really?

    I mean, if this had been some form of hate speech, I'd kind of understand. But for such an innocuous statement? Do we really have nothing better to do?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Grameez

    This is a ridiculous example of not only political "correctness" but a miserable foreign policy. We trade with and give aid to countries that are much more serious threats to our way of life then Cuba and Fidel Castro. Does anyone but the Florida "ex-Cubans" really believe this is an effective position for our country to take??? Punishing Ozzie Guillen for his opinion is just wrong! And, I'm a grandmother who grew up in Miami and remember when the primary language there was English.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Emad Milad

    I can not believe that this is happening in the United Staes the Beacon of Democracy in the world. What happened to freedom of speech and democracy !! What a shame !!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Doug Casner

    This is just another case of Political-BS taking president over freedom of speech. So the guy is amazed that Castro has lasted 60 years. So what! So am I. Quick, think of any leader of any country who has lasted that long. Buzzz. Sorry, time's up. Now give the guy his money back and let him get back to running a baseball team. What's more American than that?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      This is no longer America. We have let the fascists take over. Canada is the place to go.

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

    Gotta love that American freedom of speech. What hypocrites!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. BRIAN DALY

    I GUESS FREEDOM OF SPEECH HAS BEEN REVOKED IN THIS COUNTRY !!!1

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

    Good to see that freedom of speech and freedom of opinion are no longer in play in America. We don't have to agree with somebody's opinion, but punishing him for having one? MLB and the Marlins should be ashamed.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Delif

      Apparently the 1st amendment doesn't apply to naturalized citizens!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Delif

    I love it. We complain when they give us the standard company line in post game interviews, and we complain when they say something we may not agree with. Make up your mind America. You can't have it both ways!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dave Kovalak

    This is nothing new for Ozzie Guillen. He is a dolt.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Fidel is no worse than the GOP

    Suspended because Guillen expressed his opinion that is politically opposite of US policy and the Cuban community? It's 9/11 all over again. So much for free speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Meicho

      Apples & oranges – expressing yourself is one thing but offending an entire group of people is another.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      So he gets punished for engaging in free speech?!? In the US? Really?!? The real communists live in South Florida and within the Marlins organization, Guillen is now a 5-game political prisoner of this speech tyranny.

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

    """Cuban-Americans have nothing to do with it, our country's hatred of communism is to blame for that one boss."""

    True, we went down the McCarthy communism paranoia road. But Cuban Americans have perpetuated the problem ever since.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
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