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. remember

    man up and stand by what you say!

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

    This is about business. The Marlins are a for profit business and most of their consumers don't like Castro. Do you not understand why the Marlins are trying to get on top of this? This has nothing to do with sincerity or your God forsaken freedom of speech.

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

      So support the bigoted and racist thugs of Miami's Cuban community, and disrespect everyone else, right?

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

    You can thank Miami's loud mouthed Cuban thugs for that!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Stephen Flannery

    Not sure why this is a baseball issue. As big a dope as he is, the key to this country's greatness is the allowance of people to say what they feel. Baseball should stay out of it. His Miami neighbors will manage it effectively.

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

    Does anyone other than me find this to be flat out stupid? I have to respect the fact that Castro has survived for all these years, even if he is a bloody dictator that should have been taken out the day he came out of the mountains in the late '50s, but that's 20-20 hindsight.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rickp530

    Freedom of speach is quickly becoming a right of the past.

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

    I dont like Fidel either but this is the USA. I love the USA because we are supposed to be tolerant of diverse opinions and respect free speech. It also seems like he respected Castro's ability to survive as a leader for 60 years. Like admiring a predator shark species for surviving 60 million years.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pat Wright

    I don't understand this. I really doubt his contract forbids his freedom of speech. Why is he being suspended? We are not at war with Cuba. I hope he sues the crap out of the Marlins for attempting to stifle his basic American right of free speech. Now if the fans want to show up outside the stadium and protest his statements or boycott a few games that would be an appropriate response.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bob martin

    what the hell happened to free speech. so fidel is his hero so what he's mine too. i've been to cuba many times and just loved it. never met fidel but would love too maybe on my next trip. we don't have any heroes in the us. i cosider the bush's and reagan the worst type of people. ozzie you don't need to apologize to anyone. sue the right wing marlins for everything they have. better yet go where your appreciated. in san francisco we love fidel.

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

    What, we think we can say what we want and mean what we say? We can't even agreed to disagree instead we turn on each other. We forgotten how to be human. If you care, you listen, you hear and you take it all in. Then and only then can we make a choice. But as our leaders have for way to long have showen us, we can't agree on anything. Our very decline is on a fast pass is based on this fact.

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

    Makes me happy to know that, as a Chicagoan, Ozzie is now YOUR issue, not OURS. Enjoy!

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

    Castro is a much better leader than the extremely corrupt Batista ever was. Where did the Mafia play back then? Life expectancy, education, and living conditions all got better under Castro.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • r u serious ?

      spend some time in Cuba ...then give us ur grand assessment.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. r u serious ?

    We latin americans dont care for Cubans ....cause they never care about anyone else outside their right wing cuban bubble.
    Back to baseball ........GO METS!!!!!!

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

      But, hermano... The so called Cubans in Miami are NOT Cubanos. They are nothing but a bunch of right wing fascist refugees without a country to call their own. Their fathers left Cuba when they were no longer allowed to exploit the peasants and gave up their right to be called Cubanos. Cuba para los Cubanos. Viva Cuba Libre!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. larrydavid

    If this dude made the same comments about George W. Bush, he should be suspended. The only difference is that the vast majority of you would be silent. This is not a free speech issue.

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

      No one should be suspended from expressing their political views. Perhaps it's not the best forum at a baseball press conference, but suspension for speaking your mind goes against our freedom of speech.

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

    What happened to freedom of speech, when did it became a crime to voice an opinion in America. This isn't how we do business in America.The suspension of Ozzie Guillen by the Marlins administration looks like something you'll see in Cuba not in America. I support Ozzie Guillen, and those who stand for FREEDOM OF SPEECH should voice there support for the Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen

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