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. Mork

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    April 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Freedomforall

    This is ridiculous! So what if he respects Fidel? It is true he ruled for 60 yrs. He didn't say he supported Castro or approved his policies. I am totally against the dictator and 99% of what he has done but I respect the fact that he has governed that long. So stupid to be suspended for these comments. It is totally wrong for the Marlins to suspend him for this. Totally wrong.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Michael Ryan

    So we're back in the McCarthy era. it's a bit like when President Reagan got the number 1 TV show, Lou Grant, canceled because he didn't like Ed Asner's politics

    April 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. HU RIDER

    I am offended and distressed that, in this country – The "Bastion of FREEDOM OF SPEECH" – we can no longer express our opinions without retribution. Retribution for expressing oneself was unheard of 25 years ago. Based on what I have witnessed in the last 10 years, Hitler and Stalin won! "1984" is here; and "Soylent Green" is just around the corner!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mork

    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    April 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. vatoloke

    It's way past the time to get over the Fidel Castro and Cuba thing.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. usarmyoverlord

    Mork how in the hell did you get the typing clear off the screen? LOL 😉

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

    He probably would have gotten away with it anywhere but Miami.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. sbp

    Woody, Rush had a right to say it – he wasn't prosecuted, and private citizens and companies had a right to shun him. Same as here. THIS IS NOT A FREE SPEECH ISSUE.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. tcp

    He has the right to say whatever he wants. The Marlins have the right to suspend him for it if they think it tarnishes their name. And I have the right to call out the Marlins ownership for being IDIOTS!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Woody the Cowboy

    Liberals = defending this toolbag but calling for Limbaugh's execution over his "freedom of speech".

    Pure hypocrisy at it's finest

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

      Woody? Are you talking about the ingredients in your head? Republican conservative DBs love them some capitalism. This was a private organization, like the one Mitt Romney ran, that did what they did because a corporation isn't a democracy. Only the liberal supported big federal government supports democracy. Corporations act more like kings, only serving their own best interests, oh and those of toolbag Repubs like Limbaugh who play into their web.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Donald Hall

    A rumor has been circulating for the past two hundred-plus years that we have freedom of speech in this country. Why should this man be suspended even if he does respect Castro? These events say more about the narrow-minded idiocy of the Marlins' management than about Guillen.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike in NYC

      We absolutely have Free Speech in this country. He's not in jail is he??? As for his employer ... they are free to discipline employees if they violate company policies ..... and I'm pretty sure that offending the Cuban community IN Miami is probably against company policy!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • William Marlowe

      Agreed.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      I I think he can win the lawsuit against Marlins if he want.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stocker Brown

      I wholeheartedly agree, Donald. For crying out loud, they suspend an effective manager simply for expressing respect of a foreign figure? I mean, what is it with people these days? If they don't agree with a minor comment you make, your job is in jeopardy??? That sucks, and it is our own fault for tolerating that kind of narrow-mindedness.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • basketcase

      While I agree that he shouldn't have been suspended, this has nothing to do with our "freedom of speech." The 1st amendment says "congress shall make no law ..." not "the Florida Marlins shall suspend no man for..." It's been extended to apply to the states, but a privately owned corporation can do as they please in regards to their employees.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • g.r.r.

      Why do you state this? Did any govs. (federal, state, local) do anything against him that we are not aware of? Otherwise, just as you have the right to say anything, business owners have similar rights as well.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • jiarizona

      PLEEEEZEEE...for all those over educated spewers of what freedom of speech "really means"...(to them anyway). Try thinking your way out of this paper bag at least.
      from the 1960's "...I may not agree with what you say but I'll defend until my dying breath your right to say it...". I understand the free speech issue. I understand the management of this team has the right to object, etc. My concern is we have become so concerned with "politically correct" we have lost all reason and/or good sense.

      Based on the arguments hear, if an individual worked for a company whose management was democrat and a worker express republican views, the worker could be disciplined. Sorry folks, but that speaks directly to the issue of freedom of speech.
      We allow politicians to lie, we allow corporations to lie, cheat and steal, and we rally against a man for making a general comment?
      Out of Balance!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dc

    He's just a baseball player; who cares what he has to say?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Caspar Mulders

    Ah yeah, America, home of free speech....so long as you don't say anything the Americans don't like. The KKK can have White Power gatherings, but when some sports manager says he respects Castro, America suddenly gets a bad case of moral sensitivity. No wonder you keep voting for religious nutcases.

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

      Try having a KKK gathering at work and see how well that goes!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ryan

    It's scary how people think his "freedom of speech" was violated. This shows how uneducated Americans are. He can say whatever the heck he wants. The government will not jail him for it. However the Marlins are a private business and can discipline its employers for bad mouthing the team or anything else. If I went up to my boss and told him to eff off, I'd probably be fired. I wouldn't be thrown in jail though. That is the difference. Come on Americans, your intellect is sad.

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

      Yeah because you tell'n your boss to Eff Off is what he said. You're superior. I love you.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • JR

      "The government will not jail him for it. However the Marlins are a private business..."
      Yes, but governments is run by businesses, and businesses call the shots.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Donald Hall

      He didn't bad mouth the team and he didn't tell anybody off. He expressed a political view. What's sad here is the stupidity of the Marlin's management.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Draeggo

      You are absolutely right. Your intellect is very sad. Also very sad how you look down at everyone like you have all the answers. Of course... we all know you don't and being self important will not make you relevant.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Browardcountyboy

      Your analogy is not valid. He did not bad-mouth fellow team members or it's management, he spoke about an issue unrelated to baseball. This is just another example of free speech being negatively impacted by another powerful interest group.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
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