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. Really?

    This is a first amendment issue. His comments are dumb, but he has the right to make them, and because the Marlins suspended him, it's their way of saying think like us or you don't get to play. Let him play and let the fans make up their individual minds whether they want to support him or not. Where does this end? He better not say he respects President Obama if the owner of the Marlins (Jeffery Loria) is a republician, because he might sit his a$$ down. He better not say he like the color yellow if the owner likes the color blue or he'll sit his a$$ down. Maybe us free speechers should boycott the Marlins.

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

      He does have the right to say it but they also have the right to suspend or fire him. He potentially offended a large segment of their customer base. He can think or say what he wants but he is a very public representative of a business.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Casey

      This isn't an issue of first amendment rights, no one is infringing upon his freedom because of his comments. He's an employee of an organization whose fan base is overwhelmingly Latin American. He made a remark that offended that fan base and therefore was suspended by the team.

      You can't say anything you want to your employer/shareholders and hope to be protected by the first amendment.

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

      I'm with this being just another over-reaction. Maybe a clarification of his comment, but really a 5 game supension!!!

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

      For YOU this is a first amendment issue for which you choose to insert politics.

      For the Marlins this is a Matter of an employee alienating the paying customers.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • MK

      While I agree with many of the comments here that a suspension is a fairly harsh punishment for speaking your thoughts, I don't really see it as a 1st amendment issue, mainly because the US government is not the body issuing the punishment. The Marlins have as much of a right to issue a punishment to someone making statements that they don't want to represent them as Guillen has to say such things.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Gatorgirl

      I totally agree. The community may not like his opinion, however; it's his opinion. Where is the freedom of speech in American. It seems everywhere in society someone makes a comments too quickly thens ends up on Letterman or the Today Show apologizing to everyone... when really my feelings were not hurt and I'm thinking.... Everyone really needs to get over it.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Van Owen

      I wish people would understand the First Amendment. The right to free speech means that you will not be put in jail for speeking freely, like you can in many countries. Everyone has consequences for what they say. You can say as many stupid, vile things you want and not have to be concerned with imprisoned, thanks to the First Amendment. But, your speech still has consequences.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RonCampos

    Translation problems? Estupido means stupid in english. I dont see any translation problems.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Monkey Business

      You are the stupid one, turd.

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

    No one has ever accused Ozzie of being particularly bright. Some baseball sense, an ability to schmooze (sometimes), but overall minimal brain activity.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    The guy has a right to have his own opinion. If he made disparaging comments about his team, players, or the league I can see where they would have grounds to discipline him. However, they are off base on this one. More PC gone wild.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bill

    rickwh: You admire that Castro has the sociopathic tendencies that allow him to squash all freedom of press and murder his enemies, therefore allowing him to stay in power? He did it by means of extreme repression, not talent, which by normal society is not usually admired.
    As for Guillen, I am not sure why you need to agree with your employer politically in order to keep a job. Perhaps it is part of his contract, which in that case, it is justified.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. sbp

    WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE FOR ANY OF YOU TO ACTUALL READ AND UNDERSTAND THE FIRST AMENDMENT BEFORE BLATHERING ON ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Markr

    ...this is "free" America, and while he won't go to jail for his comments, the "threat" of a public outrage will keep people from speaking their minds. sad.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Goose66

    What?!? I am a staunch anti-communist and have tremendous sympathy with the Cuban people for the poverty and suffering endured under Castro. But, hell, I respect him for staying alive and in power for so long too. What is wrong with that remark? How can one decry a Communist regime that represses the freedoms of their people, such as their freedom of speech, and then suspend a baseball player for praising the longevity of a dictator in that regime. That's hypocritical politically-correct nonsense.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sarcasmo

    Penalizing someone for exercising their right of free speech? How Castro-esque. How deliciously ironic.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. DAVYG

    He always running his mouth saying something stupid and then apologize for it. The Marlins knew just what they were getting when they hired him.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. sbp

    REALLY: show me where in the First Amendment it says your employer must allow you to say whatever you want? How is this a First Amendment issue? Idiot.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. ramflies

    The Cuban community wields tremendous power in South Florida – in many ways.

    The Marlins turn the screws on Mr. Guillen to coerce his "statement" and mea culpa. Already, one of the teams with low attendance they would not risk either a stated or de facto informal boycott.

    The problem is that this is another example of the vise of political correctness that tortures the nation. Never mind free speech, never mind this was just one person talking – the name of the game (taken literally in this context) is to never offend anyone.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Gary Earl

      Good response ... so if I like Obama my employer can put the screws to me at my work? This country is going to hell in a handbasket!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard Williams

      While I am not a fan of Fidel or Raul Castro, we should be outraged that someone's livelihood should be impacted based on the exercise of free speech. Fidel would approve of the method used to extract an apology.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Heavyhand

    Ah, free speech... a supposedly cherished right that everyone wants only themselves to have.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Free speech has nothing to do with this. Your speaking does not remove others right to react/respond.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • holdem

      He was just speaking at the wrong place at the wrong time to the wrong people. In other words, there's never a good time to praise Castro. It's like being hired in Seoul Korea and then praising Kim Jung Un.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jjdecor

    Might make more sense to suspend him for having a drinking problem

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

    Freedom of speech just took a nosedive!

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