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. Just a thought

    Sounds like when anybody dared to critize old Dubya. Everyone should be able to have an opinion; don't have to agree with it but agree with a persons right.

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

    You don't want someone's opinion, don't F#$*ing ask. Did it effect his job performance? No.

    Another instance of political pandering.

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

    Factoid 3245–Castro has done more for Cuba than Batista ever would have.

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

    I thought how American operated was that we can disagree all we want what you say, but we will defend your right to say it!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Olaf Big

    Castro's resilience is amazing! And that's what Ozzie meant. Just let the guy play ball and leave it to politicians to do their customary hypocrisy dances. Castro is no democrat, but he is certainly not the ugliest, most corrupt, or most brutal Latin American dictator many of which were cuddled and fleeced with money and military aid from U.S. government for decades.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Everette

    I wonder if the Marlins' management would have been so upset if Guillen would have said that about Fulgencio Batista?

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

    What about the first amendment? Don't we have freedom of speech? We do not have to agree with him

    April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carlo

    Over five decades of trying to overthrow the Cuban Revolution, countless assassination attempts, brutal embargoes, support of military invasions, direct dealings with criminal organizations to kill Castro, bowing down to a bunch of right wing ex-hacienda owners living in Miami. Ha ha, screw them Ozzy, they just proved once again that Castro continues to be a thick and painful thorn in their Imperialist butt.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Woody the Cowboy

    In this commentary section: Liberal hippies whining about freedom of speech when they agree with it

    Raise your hand if you supported Limbaugh. I count 0 hands

    April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Limbaugh has every right to say what he wants and his sponsors have every right to stop sponsoring him.

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

      That's because you are used to talking to yourself and don't wait for an answer to your own question. Limbaugh is free to shoot his mouth as much as he wants. He only gets in trouble when he crosses the line between spewing generally offensive nonsense and delivering a personal insult, like in the case of Sandra Fluke.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Suleiman the Magnificent

    Cuba has been under an embargo for some 45 years. They are still there. Time to lift the embargo. Time to be less paranoid. If Guillen chooses to respect Castro, he`s free to say so, without creating a tempest in a tea pot. So much for freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • larrydavid

      Apparently, you do not understand what freedom of speech entails. He works for a private company and if his comments make the company look bad, they are free to suspend him.

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

      So true. Now it is truly the people who suffer. How could they possibly overthrow a leader in those conditions.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jdevil1735

      The 1st Amendment is ONLY a protection from the government – private enterprise can put restrictions in place if they choose to. You're statement about Freedom of Speech would ONLY be valid if he went to jail for saying he respected Castro.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jerome

    Sad day for America .... where "freedom of speech" means NOTHING anymore.

    to those (RYAN) who claim the Marlins punishment is not a violation of his free speech, did he say anything negative about his employer, or Baseball in general? why there is even a need to punish him? yes, the Marlins are a private organization, but they are part of MLB which is a significant organization in the USA, and this case is only part of a bigger trend to muzzle people, whether for Political Correctness, or just to avoid any real controversy.

    As to my opinion – Castro is a dictator, and that sums him up, but he is not worse than many dictator we have supported in the past. The only reason the Marlins felt they had to punish him is to cater to what they perceive is their fan base.

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

      Agree – he should be allowed to 'respect' Castro if he wants to. So some don't like the statement, big deal.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Zheng Xi

    so now having a different political opinion than most people is now considered punishable? Sounds like free speech is no longer real huh?
    True he shouldn't have talked about politics but would he have actually been punished if he said that Castro was the worst person to be in Cuba? I doubt it.

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

    ILLERAZIG; What about the First Amendment? Do you have a clue what it means? NO, you don't.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Free

    This is a free country, he can say what ever it is he wants. he should not apologize if that is what he feels. Although he has to realize he may lose some fans and popularity. That is the price that is sometimes paid for controversial comments.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ric Stevens

    I respect Hitler for His ability to bring the Germans together at first and gain a loyal backing.. that is NOT to say I respect the things he did after.. MLB should be ashamed for infringeing on this man's right to free speech

    April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      What? Fire Ric Stevens!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
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