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. LOL

    This Guillen guy is a typical coward. stick to your guns, if you have the balls to make a statement don't go back on your word, typical venezuelan coward.

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

    America? A democracy? Seriously?
    I hope this is not the brand of democracy you're trying to export to the world

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

    You know what's worse than suspending him for his opinion? The number of people who have no idea what free speech and the First Amendment are. Please go read it. It does NOT apply to an employer. Last time I checked, the Marlins are not part of the US government so free speech does NOT protect him. It really is so sad to see so many people uneducated about their basic rights.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. FirstAmmendment

    Well...so much for the freedom of speech in Florida, Could that state suck anymore...They shoot young black kids and supress any freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve Johnson

    Who really gives a damn? Freedom of speech. You liberals are awful. And for the Marlins to waste ANY time on this is unAMERICAN. I will not go watch any of their games.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. kingsnake

    What a crappy country WE live in when we have to FEAR what we say! A man or woman should have the right to say F Obama or I like Castro! There was once a country I grew up in that had freedom of speech. (With limits like, (Don't yell bomb on a plane) but America is to politically correct and has turned into a bunch of wimps. I know, if you don't like it leave it! What... instead of fighting for what AMerica was now I am told to leave

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  7. David Crosby

    This is pathetic..Free speech and Democracy just took a big hit today..I live in Colorado now and I will make sure to hate right wing Cubans from Florida as much I do gophers and snakes..I also will be tuning out Major League Baseball the rest of the Summer...And Walt Disney World just got cancelled for my kids and grand kids this Summer...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    Castro is a dictator who replaced another dictator. It just so happens that the dictator he replaced was propped up by the United States. This is pure hypocrisy.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Raj

    This is bizarre. We suspend someone if he praises a dictator? What is the difference between the dictator and our democracy and so called freedom of speech. Again, local politics and appeasing local Cuban is the goal here. But that is sad. This is not a good example for a free democracy. There are lot bigger problems to solve in our country than suspending Ozzie...........

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tommie

    really?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  11. sbp

    Jefry, what happened is it is being protected. No Government censorship means no violation of the First Amendment. Guillen is free to make a stupid comment that hurts his bosses' business, and they are free to fire him because of it. Might not be a good idea, but no free speech issue.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. Borque

    I'm not sure whether to take these people whining about "freedom of speech" seriously, or there are really that many people trying to troll this story.

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

      What on earth are you talking about? You should be fired from your job for your comment here. Same thing.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Borque

      *are there really that many people trying to troll this story.

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

      So, in other words "freedom of speech" is only used where "we like" or if it is "likeable in general" or "acceptable in general" or "funny script on SNL", and it is not acceptable if it is other way around..So, one has to go with the flow. Right?.... what is meaning of "hypocrisy" then?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PGelsman

    If he loves Fidel so much, why doesn't he go home.

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

      Typical fascist response.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • portland tony

      Since your inane comment reflects your knowledge.....He's from Venezuela and is a US citizen. Seems to me that we do have freedom of speech here in the US. So what's your complaint?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Akim

    What happened to the freedom of speech....

    April 10, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. funnybunny

    Sounds like they suspended him for having an opinion. Who cares what his opinion is, he has a right to have and EXPRESS his opinion.

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