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. David

    Stop cowering to the Miami Cubans and their criminal enterprise & constant whining. Unos comemierdas todos!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      just another hater....We got it better then you...hahhaha

      April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NV

    Speech is free. You have the right to say what ever you want. There are simply consequences for what you say.

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

      That's like saying we are free to vote....but we have to put up with voter intimidation at the ballots.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew Smith

      Yes, if you disagree with the Cuban community in Miami, you will suffer retribution. They do not believe in free speech. They want to go back to the days when they lorded over the common people, when they owned everything and a majority of Cubans were little more than serfs working on the lands of the privileged few. Under Batista and his predecessors, there was no freedom for the Cuban people, except for the elite. A peasant would be kicked off the land he worked, along with his family, if he expressed a dissenting view. Naturally, the Cubans living in Miami believe that Guillen should be castigated and thrown out of his job. They just want to maintain their honored traditions!

      April 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. K3Citizen

    Ozzie shouldn't be suspended for something like that because he is right. He made a comment about how tough the guy is. We having thousands of illegal Cubans here so there is no reason to kiss their butts. Send them back and lock the doors so they can't come back.

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

      You need to be more informed before you speak. Cubans are not illegals in the U.S., they are refugees and that gives me legal status.

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

    Well, everyone has already said it. I'll add, maybe the powers that be should be fined for punishing someone who was just practicing his one of his rights.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Long Live the People's Revolution

    We need a Fidel Castro to take Miami back from the corrupt Cuban exile community.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      and Hitler, kkk, and lets give back the US to the indians.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew Smith

      Don't go off the deep end! Just because the Miami Cuban community behaves arrogantly, and they bring with them a less than admirable history in their home country, that does not mean that Castro is less than an brutal, narrow-minded, and frequently brutal dictator. He has accomplished some good things for the Cuban people, despite an aggressive, powerful neighbor to the north that has stoked his paranoia. He has abused people, indulged his personal prejudices, and attempted to intellectually straightjacket society, creating a police state mentality that far exceeded rational justification. He is not a model to emulate, despite his notable accomplishments.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • nonprophet

      you mean freeloading exiles

      April 10, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RL

    So much for free speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Long Live the People's Revolution

      That's all it boils down to. Dollars over dignity.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • sbp

      RL, maybe you should take a look at the First Amendment. Guillen HAS freedom of speech. The cops did not arrest him. Do you call your boss an idiot and then claim "free speech?" Get it?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Paul

    Castro has staying power because he killed so many people before they could kill him. If that is what Guillen finds respectful, I pity him.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sarah Francis

    I don't understand how his statements would have an effect on whether or not he can manage a team. I hate what our country is coming to in regards to freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. Death to Fascism, Power to the People


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

    I don't agree with what this guy said. However, he should not be fined or penalized for exercising his right to free speech. He has a right to his opinion and I am so tired of this BS. If he would have spoken out against Castro, then he would not have been suspended.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • dermot

      Excellent point, Lisa!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      How about he also loves Hitler and the KKK....i think its bad business do u think so? you moron..

      April 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dan

    So much for freedom of speech. The Marlins exercised what Castro has done for years...oppression
    I don't know this manager, I don't even like the team but what a shame. Suspending them for saying something out loud in front of Cubans...the same Cubans who left there and came here to have FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. sfr

    It is an opinion. I thought we were allowed to express our opinion in this country. I thought it was called the 1st amendment. It may be wrong but that is the view of the reader.

    MLB & the Marlins have no backbone. They give in to those who want to enforce their opinions. As a baseball manager, he should be judged by his performance on the field, not the dribble that comes out of his mouth. The same can be said for your favorite actor.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bryan s

    The Cuban American community here in south Florida are hyppocrites. First they came he seeking freedom -including freedom of speech -as long as that speech is only anti-Castro.

    2nd, they have not assimilated not our culture, like the Germans, Vietnamese, Koreans and Mexicans have – when will they learn English?

    3rd – are they Americans or cu ban-Americans? If they don't like our freedoms go back to Cuba.

    4th, they chose not to fight for their freedoms – unlike egyptians, poles, Syrians and others who are fighting against despots and dictators. We Americans did this over 200 years ago ourselves.....I would respect them more I'd they fought for their freedoms and rights in Cuba, instead of floating here and complaining.

    5th our wet foot/dry foot policy gives them rights that Haitians and others don't have....land here and stay here legally. Why are they special?

    Finally our 60 year policy and embargoes have done nothing to remove Castro or change policy....when do we finally admit it is a failed policy?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      I wonder if he said I love the KKK and Hitler what would people say then...People hate on cubans because we got it good here in Miami. We made Miami what it is now. The only true Americans are the indians...Not some red neck from Alabama.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      I have often wondered that too. What makes Cuban illegals so special? So if you are poor and come from a nominally democratic country (Haiti) you get sent back. If you are Cuban and come from a decent health care system and are poor you get to stay because you live under a Castro dictatorship?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • mully

      nice observations, Bryan.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MidWestern Boy

    The First Amendment trumps any and all dumb political statements.....except in Baseball.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rachel

    The very thing the Cuban people are upset over is the very thing most of them were seeking when they came to America and that's free speech. The Cuban people and Marlins should be ashamed of themselves. What a bunch of hypocrites.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • cykill

      ikr, what happened to free speech. this guy can say whatever he wants about castro. what the hell. do we need to move to cuba to have free speech now.
      only thing this guy did wrong was apoligize.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • gracemayer

      I quite agree! Whatever happened to freedom of speech, you guys?!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      Hmmm...you have a point.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck O'Ceallaigh

      yes Rachel, you are absolutely correct. There cannot be "a little bit of free speech", it is either free or it isn't. I fear we, with the blindness of the Supreme Court are moving in the opposite direction. Cheers to you for saying what I was about to.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • TheTruthInNews

      Shame on the Marlins? Really? The manager has a self admited drinking problem of getting drunk after every game for the past 25 years. How could he ever have any empathy for his team's fans? He should go through a mandatory rehab before being allowed back to his job.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • East of Eden

      Much better convo here then espn.com. What more could I expect though.

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