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. gary

    The First Amendment only applies to the government, in other words only the government is prohibited from violating your free speech rights. Unless the City of Miami actually owns the Marlins, (which they do not) the First Amendment does not apply. Employees at at will unless covered by a collective bargainign agreement or an indivivual employment contract. Guillen has an employment contract, and thus he has a right to appeal and show that the Marlins did not have just cause to suspend him (this has nothing to do with First Amendment rights). Guillen stated that he has opted not to appeal.
    Unless you are unionized or have an individual employment contract, a private employer can suspend, or fire you for any reason unless there is an explicit law against it (ADA, ADEA, CRA, etc)

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

    I don't agree at all with his comments, but we are supposed to have freedom of speech in this country. Why did he get in trouble for it? Just because some people don't agree? I don't agree with the fact that Janet Napolitano said us veterans are a threat to National Security, but she still has a job.

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

      Janet Napolitano works for the government, Guillen does not.

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

    What happened to Free Speech? He should not be suspended for his right to free speech. It's getting out of hand in this so called Free country where you can't say anything anymore. I'm beginning to think that the Tea Party is correct. We need to take our country back for these idiots.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jqent

    The corporation owning the team really isn't concerned with free speech, they are only worried about gate receipts. Don't want to offend any potential customer.

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

    Labcab, you can sue, and you would be laughed out of court and tossed to the curb. You have no clue what the First Amendment means.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. paul

    miami, you make me sick !

    April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ron P

    It is a sad day when someone in the US cannot practise free speech. You do not like the Cuban regime yet you are acting just like them...makes you wonder sometimes

    April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. abudum

    I listened to a conservative talkshow host a week or 2 ago describing an evil country that had oppressed a country near it for 60+ years and had done everything to break and keep the government in that country under their control. He was describing China's rule over Tibet. I just knew he was talking about America's oppression of Cuba. America talks about the desolate and poor economy of Cuba but, it never talks about the evil perpetrated on the people of Cuba by America.

    What he said were just the feelings of most Cubans bribed away from Cuba only for their ability to make wealthy baseball team owners wealthier. The worthless world court ought to be looking into that crime against humanity before they try to arrest only Arabs and European warlords while the criminals in the U. S. government live for free on the citizen's tax dollars for the rest of their lives.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin Barbieux

    If our government can grant us the right to free speech, you'd think the rest of us could afford to give that privileged to others as well.

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

    We'll take advantage of Castro's baseball mentality by importing all the players Cuba can produce but say something good about Castro & we'll feign shock & insult!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mott the Hoople

    I thought there was Freedom of Speech in America. I thought it was the most sacred of the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. I thought that everyone had a right to an opinion, and was free to express it, no matter how stupid it is.

    America is turning into the oligarchical dictatorship mentioned in the novel "1984". Now our speech must march to the "party line", where the "party" is the "political correctiveness crowd": do not mention the "n" word. Do not dare mention the "f" word (slang term for those who long for the same gender). And now, do not dare utter the "C" word, for the liberator of Cuba from the U.S.-aligned Cuban dictator, Batista.

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

      Freedom of Speech protects you from government action, not from your employer.

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

    Hows that "MULTICULTURALISM" working out for ya!? Lets get more American Hating Foreigners in the U.S. baby!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David M

    Ozzie should consider running for Congress. He speaks like a true politician. All politicians are quite adept at "clarifying" what they said.

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

    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

    EVERY ONE OF YOU SAYING THIS HAS NO IDEA WHAT IT MEANS.

    AND APPARENTLY, NO ABILITY TO READ THE DOZENS OF POSTS EXPLAINING THE FIRST AMENDMENT.

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

    FREE SPEECH – R.I.P.

    Remember when we had a 1st Amendment Right that gave us freedom of speech? Yeah, me neither.

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