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. RJ

    What happened to 1st amendment rights. Where is the ALCU now? Any time it's a religous issue they are coming out of the woodwork.

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


    April 10, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. JR

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

    Typical fascist response.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. Al

    Why he just only apologize and don't try to explain. The more explaining the worst it gets.
    Him and his PR advisors are really dumb thinking they can blame translation for what he said...

    April 10, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steve Johnson

    HITLER was a GENIUS and intelligent ruler, leader, and nationalist. So can I not say that, because you liberals hate what he did to the Jews? Yes, it was awful what he did. But his efforts in leading Germany were spectacular. Better fire me from work for 5 days. UH OH!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike in NYC

      I'm pretty sure if you work for a Jewish owned company and made that comment while at work ..... you're fired. Call me crazy .....

      April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Unknown

    Fidel is even a threat to America anymore, heck he is no longer even in power. So he respects Fidel, it's not like he called Castro his hero or role model. This is a blow to freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. andrea

    sounds to me like he wants to be transferred to Cuba's team.... let him go. We have enough people like this amidst us. This is what happens when stupid people try to get into thing which they have no knowledge of . what an idiot. trade him to Cuba... I am sure there is one Cuban young man who wants freedom and wold love to get the chance at America.. fair trade I think

    April 10, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. sbp

    Woody: Except in both cases there is no First Amendment issue. Rush was a tool and got nailed for it by his sponsors. Guillen is a tool and got nailed for it by his bosses. That's all. Both deserved it.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. mamaboats

    good grief....what happened to freedom of speech...guess this guy can join the club of the Dixie Chicks....

    April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. tcp


    April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • sayitstr8r

      outrageous censorship, like you might see in Cuba. a man has a right to speak his mind in this country, and so do women, by the way – it's a RIGHT!!!!! as long as it does not cross the line of fire in a theater, etc. and other minimal limitations. To say he admires Castro is his right. To say it publicly is his Right. To say it without fear of loss of income or reputation is his RIGHT.

      but the RIGHT doesn't want that. They want limited rights for ordinary citizens, and unlimited rights to mess with ordinary people's lives in the form of monetary greed for them, but any thinking person can see this.

      and that is the point: the man thinks, he speaks, he has the right to do so not with fear, as in more overtly censored nations. what are we becoming? think about it, and say it out loud!!

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

    Not only does he have the right to say what he said but he is 100% right.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. Alan

    Send him to Cuba..........

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

      I want to go. I hope they open a cruise port soon.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. andrea

    this man spoke his stupid mind...education instead of steroids.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. AlexA

    What kind of a country do we live in when an individual makes a political statement and is ostracized for it. This reminds me of the extreme public pressure to support Obama in many traditionally Democratic regions of the country in 2008. I guess group think mentality is alive and well in our democracy. Marlins mgmt and Cuban American community in Miami say hi to Vladimir Putin.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. andrea

    just because you are able to kill your people and treat them as slaves, is why this man has stayed in power you bozo....educate this man please, before I throw up

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