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. Mike in Pekin

    What the heck happened to freedom of speech? Whether you agree with him or not, how does that justify suspending the guy for 5 games? Honestly, there is nothing shocking about what he said. He did not say he supported Castro. He stated that he respected him due to his ability to remain in power for over 60 years, which, objectively, is a significant amount of time. Hosni Mubarek was in power a little over 30 years and was ousted by his people. Ghadaffi was in power 40 years, with the same result. People need to dial back on the sensitivity meter, and appreciate the remark for what it was – a reflection on the unusual length of time Castro has been able to hold on to power, which is the result of political skill as much as anything else.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. sbp

    Hey, Donald, how does this man getting suspended by his employers for saying something that cost him money have anything to do with a right not to have the government abridge your right to speech? Idiot.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. Miami smells bad anyway

    The "hanging chad" scandal, Zimmerman, and now Marlins issuing suspensions for free speech. Just one more reason why Florida sucks.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • drewrey88

      It'snot a free speach issue unless the government is involved.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Casy Anthony...

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

      Casey Anthony...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. seth k

    I don't agree with a suspension. He has the right to free speech but if the organization is really that appalled then let him go. This is an attempt to placate the community. Stupid comment but he has a right to it as well as them firing him.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. drewrey88

    To everyone complaining about the 1st ammendment issue here. The 1st ammendment protects you from government persecution, not persecution of your peers or employers.

    MLB and the Marlins were so proud an happy to have set up a team in the Cuban/Latin community to help be a gate way to Latin America and Guillen couldn't have gotten things of to a worse start if he tried. A 5 day suspension is not enough to repair the damage he has done to the Marlins and MLB. He should be made to sing the pre Castro Cuban National Anthem (if there is one) on the loud speaker before every game for the rest of the season.

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

      Seriously dude? They've been playing in Miami for almost TWENTY years now.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. martin

    "You have the right to free speech, as long as you aren't dumb enough to actually try it." -the clash

    April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sopa

    It looks like Americans haven't woken up yet. Here is a wake up call.. AMERICANS !! YOUR ARE LOOSING ALL YOUR FREEDOM !!!

    April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. bob


    April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. ComeBreakMe

    Honestly....Who gives a flying ****?

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

    Why is he in the US and not home in Cuba with his idol! Fire him and let him look for a job in Cuba.

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

      Uhh... maybe because he is from Venezuela?

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

      WOW, A guy says it is remarkable how Fidel has been through so many presidents, you have to admire the S.O.B.
      and he gets suspended from his job?

      Jeez, sounds like Cuba. Say ANYTHING even bordrline unpopular and you are in trouble.

      Freedom of Speech?

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

      The Marlin decision is at least as despotic as anything Castro has done. Free speech is actually quite important.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sharkfisher

    Here it is again! Deny a persons right to his own opinion and his right to express that opinion because it's not politicaly correct Or does't suit some minorty group.We are loosing our rights faster and faster.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • When did the Miami Marlins become a government agency?

      He can say what he wants. And the Marlins can react with this punishment. Because it is a free country.

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

      That about sums it up.

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

      He still has freedom of speech he not going to jail. It's his employer that punishing him. He represent the Marlins and many of the Marlins fans are Cuban Americans. This could effect tickets sales.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Sharkfisher, no one is losing their rights here. Mr. Guillen has every right to express his views and he did so. The public also has every right to criticize him for it, and the Marlins have every right to fire the manager for any reason at all. Freedom of speech is a right you have from the government. Non-governmental parties like Cuban-Americans and the Florida marlins have never been required to stand by no matter what someone says.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter Grimwald

      When you represent an organization, you must watch what you say! This is not a matter of personal free speech. This is about the head of an organization endorsing a controversial figure. There's a fine line.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • GrogInOhio

      I'm thinking you're a tad confused. No one has thrown Mr. Guillen in jail for his controversial views. Just as he (and you) have the right to his opinions and to voice them, OTHERS have the right to theirs and to voice their opposition to his opinion. Freedom of speech is a two way street, not one way.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. White Guy Who Lives in Miami

    people who said "what about the 1st amendment" are just plain stupid.....yes he has every right to speak his mind and say he loves castro or hitler or who ever he wants no one is arresting him he can legally say what ever he wants. We are talking about a JOB though a very public job in a community that has a huge population of Cubans. Your boss can fire you if you say something they think is offensive especially if that statement will COST THE COMPANY MONEY.

    If Ozzie isn't smart enough to realize Castro should never be discussed with the press positive or negative while he manages the Miami Marlins then maybe he isn't smart enough to call a pitching change when he needs to or manage relationships in the club house. Just plain stupid.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter Grimwald

      Well put!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Theone3387

    We need law makers to push laws which punishes any and all employers who inhibit ones freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. paul

    Whatever happened to Freedom of Speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • When did the Miami Marlins become a government agency?

      Nothing. What happened to cogent analysis of the law?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • cb11bass

      Freedom of speech went out the window on Castro or his supports the moment he pointed nuclear weapons at the United States.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Nothing. He said what he wanted to say.

      However, in the WORKPLACE, he is the face of the Marlins. As such, they may do with him as they darn well please if they feel his PUBLIC comments harmed THEIR team.

      Clearly, they did.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dexter Grimwald

      Whatever happened to "thinking before you speak"???

      April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. I R

    He has a filthy mouth, the size of a septinc tank.
    Doesn't surprise me. Can't stand watching any game heis in, everything that comes out in spanish it's just filth.
    You don't need a mic, as you can lipread his filth.
    He is a BULLY to his players and a coward.
    The only reason he apologized is because people were upset, not because he meant it.
    What's in the heart is what comes out of the mouth.
    He is admitting on getting drunk evryday, great example as a manager Marlins...way to go team!!!!!
    Great conduct to imitate and have for a role model to other players and kids!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
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