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. Adil

    So much for freedom of speech...

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

    Cuba is a leftist regime??? By whose definition - yours? The Cuban Revolution (since it opposed the status quo) could be characterized as leftist, but ANY dictatorship and loss of personal freedom is far from being left. Your definition of "typical liberal" does not hold, either (and seems to be not only highly misinformed, but ignorant and uneducated). Check out the education level for Tea Party members vs politically visible liberals. It's the far right that is uneducated, unreasoned, lacking in foreign affairs knowledge (let's use Palin as an example), wants to cut social welfare programs that help others, and regularly displays the most ignorant political signs anyone could ever see. This man is no leftist. He's just dumb.

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

    castro's regime is no worse than china's regime, so what is the fuss over, we sell our national debt to them, hypocrisy

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

    FirstAmendment, DavidCrosby: try reading up on what the First Amendment means.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ed

    its horrible that a person in the Us would be in trouble for stating his political views

    April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. tcp

    If you listen to fools...

    The mob RULES!...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rotsoruck

    Needs to get fired and shipped off to live in cuba with his buddy Fidel

    April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Still America

    This is AMERICA – Free Speech??? I don't agree with what he said, but I agree he has the right to say it.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    This has nothing about free speech. If you are part of selling a service to a clientel and you anger them such that they might not buy your services, you have the right to fire them.

    For example imagine I own a buisness that sells products focused towards African Americans. My buisness manager publicly states that he believes that Jefferson Davis was a great man. Maybe the statement was misconstrued. Maybe it just came out wrong. Regardless of what he really feels about black/white relations I will fire him if I believe it will affect my buisness. He has the right to speak his mind. I have the right to hire the person I think is best for my buisness.

    Guillen works in a buisness. As an American he has the right to say what he wants. However, his owners are in the buisness of making money. If Guillen is bad for buisness because Cuban Americans might not want to go to baseball games, then Guillen is no longer useful as the manager.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tundra

    So sad, people need to put on their big boy undies and listen to what he said. He respected the fact Castro was still alive with as many enemies as he has. First off he didn't say he respected the way Castro treats people. Even if he did suspending him is so over the top I can;t believe it.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Woody the Cowboy

    How many people here supported Rush Limbaugh exercising his freedom of speech on Sandra Fluke? Anybody?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    He also said that Charlie Manson is a gruff but lovable, sweet old man.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mork


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

      you do understand freedom of speech only keeps you out of jail..........WHEN YOU WORK FOR A PRIVATE COMPANY, YOU DO WHAT THEY SAY SO YOU CAN MAKE MONEY OR YOU GTFO, IF YOU SAY SOMETHING STUPID THEN THEY CAN MAKE YOU GTFO.........understand now?

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

      Dude, call me back when the FBI arrest him for what he said.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Stingo

    The only thing dumber than what Guillen said is some of the comments on this thread. Guillen had the right to say what he said and, as a person employed in a business that relies on the support of the community, the community had the right to say that they did not want a person who had such views serving their needs. You have the right to tell your boss that he is an ass and that his mother is ugly. He or she has the right to fire you. Free speech means that we have the right to say what we think and to pay the social consequences for our opinions.
    That said, what he said was incredibly insensitive and dumb. The Castro brothers have destroyed the country's infrastructure and caused a lot of suffering. I don't know if there will ever be a Free Cuba but it certainly won't happen while they are in command. Guillen should be sorry that he expressed such an insensitive opinion praising such an egocentric and evil man when he works for so many people that suffered at his hands.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. sbp

    So, Ed, of the head of the Republican Party started giving speeches praising Democrats, do you think he would not get fired because of "free speech?"

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