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. andrea

    why did they just not fire him, I wold not want to work with someone like this at all. bet their ticket sales go real bad now..... hurt the team you jerk, why not keep your stupid opinions to yourself. and read a damn book you idiot

    April 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. matty t

    He does have freedom of speech, meaning he won't be arrested or thrown in jail by the government. Neither he, nor anyone else enjoys freedom from public reprisal when said speech is deemed offensive.

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

    Amazing how the THUGS of the Miami Cuban community wield their corrupt political power, and squelch free speech. This is the same sleazy political group that will make sure George Zimmerman will never see the inside of a jail for the murder he committed, because he's Cuban American!

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

      He's actually an American American. His mother was born in Columbia. But hey, you're on a roll. Don't let little things like facts stop you.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mork


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

    Recanting over speaking the truth? I guess the Spanish Inquisition is back in town.

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

    Go USSA! The odd statement could have been questioned by the media/baseball/public and likely would have been a good opportunity to learn or review some history, but instead we don't allow different view points. This kind of thing makes us look bad on the world stage too.

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

      Go USSA? The United States Softball Association? Are you a lesbian?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sbp


    This isn't the government, it's a private company.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Zil Zerimar

    Only suspension? This LOUD MOUTH AS...LE should be banned for life!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MJL

    @Sharkfisher –


    April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Keith

    I respect Fidel Castro! This is like firing someone because they are republican or democrate!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Carlos

    Try having a KKK gathering at work and let's see how well goes!

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

      Fidel is a leader of a country..................Rich people are angry he took their money .... welcome to what happens to the poor .... beating and torture!

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

      But it's ok to have the Black Panthers come to a rally?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sbp

    Do you really want to know WHAT HAPPENED TO FREE SPEECH?


    April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve in Mentor, OH

    Between him calling Castro an SOB and his muddied english translation, its appears to me that this whole thing is overblown.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Marth

    We can be punished for our political views? This from a leage that has closed its eyes to illegal "enhancing" drugs. Nice.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JR

    We are nothing more than Serfs serving our Feudal masters, even to this day.

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