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. TexEcon

    The 1st Amendment prohibits government from restricting your right to speak your mind. It does not apply to employer-employee situations at all. It does not prevent your employer from disciplining you for speaking contrary to the employer's interests.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Drake

      Looks like Cuban-Americans are a "protected" group.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Diamond Dave

      Most people don't understand that concept because they learn mostly from watching MTV and the E channel...

      April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • TheTruthInNews

      You are SO right on here! This has to do with team image and cash flow too.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. henri

    Pope Benedict went to visit Castro. Same for JP II. Why doesn't anyone suspend the Popes from their jobs? Withhold contributions for 5 weeks?

    Anyone hear of free speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Debbie

    Since when is someone not allowed to voice their own opinion? The Marlin's should be boycotted for those 5 games.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • cw

      He's certainly allowed to voice his opinion, he must also deal with the consequences of that action! Personal responsiblity, Debbie?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Recess is over

      Since it reflects poorly on the team's image. You must be young. You don't go to games anyway... admit it.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      Walk into your job and say you love the KKK and Hitler and let see how long you last....lol

      April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wuzzup

    He knows baseball...

    but little else...

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. J

    While this does shake my resolve in our freedom of speech, this is a private ball club suspending him and not the US government punishing him.

    Private establishments have every right to suspend you for what you say. Especially when you say it wearing their uniform or working on their dime. You are an extension of their company and their values, and if they feel that what you say jeopardizes their business, they have the right to punish you or remove you.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Semper fi


      April 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Postal

      Actually, this is the public frenzy over insignificant things people say that is causing this issue. It is true that people must deal with the repercussions of what they say, however, when society can crucify someone because they "hurt someone's feelings", while it allows others to make similar "hurtful" remarks about others without repercussions, then the entire statement "with liberty and justice for all" is no longer true, and our nation falls short of what it is meant to be. When is a five game suspension and public crucifixion proper "repercussions" for stating an opinion about someone else? Is that like saying "chopping off someone's hand" for "flipping the bird" is a proper punishment? Or cutting someone's tongue out for saying curse words?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      Then why does the gov get involved when steroids are used? He should not have been punished

      April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |

    yeap Baseball is all latinos game.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • frauSchmidt

      football and basketball is all black. what do you play then?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. No sugar coating

    ""I get drunk because... " The reason? You're an alcoholic. Man up and admit it.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. dew44

    He's an idiot and an embarrasment to baseball.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. so

    It's not much different if I told my boss to go f themselves. Yeah free speech I can say it but I would probably get fired for it.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      Yep thats the point you can't walk into your job and say I love Hitler and the KKK. You'll be out the door...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mark kirksey

    once again rush lint ball can say wht he want but ozzie cant

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      Well, Ozzie is just one of millions of people who admire & respect Castro, including myself. As a black man in America, Castro is no threat to me or my family, unlike millions of racist White & Latinos here in America. We blacks are programmed here to like & admire Red Neck Racist like Jesse Helms & hate Castro. HOW UTTERLY RIDICULOUS. DON'T BE ASHAMED OF WHO U LIKE, OZZIE,

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

    Sure, they can suspend him if they want, but it just demonstrates which groups have "juice" and which ones don't.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    He needs a lawyer. What ever happened to freedom of speech. It's sad that things like this are happening in the USA while americans and others are fighting for this very right.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • You have no clue

      Research the meaning of "freedom of speech" and maybe you'll understand.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. Semper fi

    So much for freedom of speech. Perhaps CUBA is right. Hypocrites!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. arpad

    One of my best friends parents had a bakery in Cuba that employed 65 people, mostly extended family. Castro locked them all inside and burned it to the ground. He fled with his grandparents and was raised in spanish harlem. Ozzie should be sent packing back to Venezuela to his buddy Chavez.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. James Brown

    This is a case of freedom of speech. However common sense should have been used by Ozzie for speaking his feelings on a touchy issue. The funny thing about speaking your mind in America,it's alright if you are unemployed, or just a fryer for Burger King. America's favorite game and being a high level employee making a nice salary, common sense should always edit freedom of speech before your mind press send.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      I can accept him getting suspended for being stupid; I don't get a suspension for exercising his right to have his own opinion.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
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