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. fearlessdude

    Castro has fought and defeated the CIA installed dictator Batista. Castro turned to the Soviets only after he was refused aid by Eisenhower. The embargo – on the urging of the Hispanics in Miami – is a racist thing. The Cuban blacks are being punished by the colonialist USA. What right do we have to impose an embargo? The right of bigger guns? Nice going.

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

    No worries Ozzie, they will all be dead soon, those expatriates cubans and Castro! The expatriate cubans have grandfathered and keep championing one of the stupidest foreign policy positions in the history of the US, SMH

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

    Oh, I thought the U.S had freedom of speech in their constiution.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • mr. kennedy

      That doesn't mean he has free speech in his contract. The US Govt isn't persecuting him, his privately owned sports team is.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    If he said it anywhere but Miami, it would have been considered as exercising his first amendment rights.

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

    Ah, heavyhand, having no understanding of the Bill of Rights but blathering on about it anyway.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Animenut

    If this isn't an example of extortion censorship, I don't know what would be. A private citizen makes a harmless comment and is somehow forced to apologize. Must be big money or power talking in the anti-Castro Cuban population.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. JEFRY MAIRENA

    WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THIS COUNTRY? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY GOING TO SUSPEND HIM FOR A COMMENT? WOW. THE ONE'S THAT SHOULD BE PUNISHED ARE THOSE WHO ARE MAKING THIS ISSUE BIGGER THEN IT IS. THOSE NETWORKS MAKING IT MORE OF A POLITICAL ISSUE THEN A SPORTS ISSUE.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. lolz

    You tools realize the cubans are in arms over his remarks right? "Stupid Americans" indeed. Glad that it's clarified that Cuba is a US territory.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. Larry L

    This really isn't about free speech – even if it seems related to politics. It's about ticket sales and corporate profits. If the Marlins were a beer company selling a brand of beer favored by a particular demographic and one of the executives made a derogatory remark about that population (potentially causing significant loss in sales) it seems reasonable that he should be disciplined or even fired. How is this different? After reading the article I think Mr. Guillen should spend the time visiting an alcohol rehab facility. That might be the heart of the problem.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. McShannon

    I'll be damned I don't agree with what he said but I will stand by him for his right to say it without condemnation.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. Samuel

    The real story should be the vanishing right of Americans to speak their minds. This is absolutely frightening to me.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Raoul

    So the guy has an opinion about a foreign leader..Who cares?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    So I guess it's the right to free "popular" speech now.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ddog

    What happen to freedom of speech? Cuba has over a 90% literacy rate. We are rife with violence domestic ...more handgun killings than anywhere else in the world....illegal and legal drugs. I love this country USA but we got a ton of our own problems... We are still made because Castro kicked us out and thumbed his nose at us and survived.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. allison

    Why should he be suspended for his right to free speech? While most of us Americans may not agree to what he said and rail against his opinion, we all have the right to free speech in America. There has been a lot of this going on, where some big shot says something we don't agree with and we demand apologies and punishments. Let them hang themselves if they want to, but we have no right to make them apologize for how they really feel.

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