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. revolting peasant

    Remember the old days when people could just say stuff?

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

      Yeah, this is ridiculous. He didn't say that Castro was an amazing and compassionate leader, just that he respected his tenacity.

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

    Wow, I don't know who I'm more upset with - the Marlins for taking it to such an extreme (he only said he "respects" how Castro has avoided being shot!), or this guy for apologizing up the wazoo!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jorge

    what is the big deal ?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hoosier Pete

    The funny part is that for most of the trolls posting here, if he had praised President Obama, they'd demand he be suspended indefinitely.

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

    Soooo, all those Cubans who escaped the tyrrany and oppression of the vicious Fidel and swam to the US to mooch off our freedoms don't feel the Nutcase of Oz should be able to express his opinions? WOW!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Martin Ortega

    I am uphauled by the static this is receiving. The man made a statement.. I am hispanic and served in guantanamo bay in cuba when castro launched 15000 migrants to US soil.. He is a tyrant and an evil man. Now Guillen can say what he said but I do understand what he is saying. Ozzie Guillen has been a tyrant in the baseball world himself and I some how believe what he was trying to convey that like castro's crazy but has last 60 years in power when the world hated him, the same will happen with ozzie. That although he is viewed as a crazy manager he will stand the test of time as well. People are making way too much of this. I will tell you fidel is a nut job yes but you have admit that he has a point. If we think that castro is a tyrant why is he still there.. If you think guillen is a tyrant why is he still there. I personally dont mind the comment and people need to develop a bit of thick skin.

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

    RIC, defined your way, your boss infringes on your "right" to fee speech every day. You don't understand the First Amendment.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Loretta Carr

    I thought we had freedom of speech in this country.

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

    He should be allowed to speak his mind. The embargo on Cuba is strictly political–if we applied the same standards everywhere we'd also be putting an embargo on China and others. The reason for the embargo is that Florida is a key swing state in presidential elections, and the Cuban ex-pat community is very wealthy and powerful. No presidential candidate wants to make them angry. It's one of those totally absurd elements of our political system.

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

      The Marlins just don't want to upset the Cuban ex-pats. Pure stupid politics. It's time to lift the embargo–it's childish at best. We don't embargo China do we?

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

    Why can't people stick with what they say anymore?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sbp

    Yeah, we do, Loretta Carr, you just don't know what it means. Try looking up "First Amendment"

    April 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LabCab

    While I don't support Castro....I do wonder where "free speech" has gone.....I would seek out a lawyer and a 100 million lawsuit....

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

      Law suites are overused in this country and only bring the price of everything up. However, I agree with the freedom of speech. Although, the owners of the Marlins do have to worry about selling tickets and want their players to be politically correct for this climate.

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

      @LABCAB- FREE SPEACH? We have free speach, but that doesnt mean you dont face consequences if you say something. Keep in mind that in his contract he is to represent the team in a positive manner on & off the field. It was expected to see him be suspended to say the least

      April 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Darth Cheney

    I hereby apologize for my honest statement, even though it is from any objective standpoint utterly harmless, and almost arcane. Instead, I would like to re-issue a statement that does not really reflect my beliefs, because a key stakeholder that takes offense to nearly everything took offense to this as well. This way we can pretend that there is no legitimate diversity of opinion or latent conflict of ideologies in our country, or that some people really need to get over themselves.

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

    So much for freedom of speech. 🙁 So sad that one cannot voice thir opinions any longer. I don't like Castro but Ozzie should have as much right to say he does and I have to say I don't.

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

      @tarheel- FREE SPEACH? We have free speach, but that doesnt mean you dont face consequences if you say something. Keep in mind that in his contract he is to represent the team in a positive manner on & off the field. It was expected to see him be suspended to say the least

      April 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lee

    Ok, that was a bit too far. If you know the true story by Fidel Castro then what he said isn't at all that bad. I saw a PBS broadcast about Cuba and from what I saw was that Fidel Castro didn't want RACISM in his country. The white people in America in the 40's and 50's didn't want to white and black people getting alone. Fidel came to power and kicked the white people out! The US started a blockade and embargo against CUBA as punishment and the folks was starving. So, Fidel turned to Russia for help, food and aide.

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