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. Criolla

    Put him on an one way ticket to Cuba, see how he likes it, people like Guillen, Penn Stone and all the worshippers of Castro and the left do not have an idea how is to live under this totalitarian Regimes.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mott the Hoople

      Cuba is a less-than-desirable destination ONLY because of the economic embargoes created by the United States for 50+ years. You cannot deny it. Castro overthrew the U.S. backed dictator, Batista. The U.S. had a black eye, made even blacker by the failed Bay of Pigs disaster.

      Why? Because of the U.S.s distaste for Communism? Communist China has been a "most favored trading partner" of the U.S. for 20 years. Why? Because they ship us poisoned dog food, lead-tainted children's toys? Of course not. It is because China loans the U.S. money to prop up our economy.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Syndrome Zed

    I've got no problem with someone having "respect" for his or her enemy. It doesn't mean you like him (or her), just that you acknowledge his competence, or cleverness, or whatever skill it is that makes him effective. The nimrods at the CIA came up with more plans to assassinate him that Wile E Coyote would have thought were too insane to work...and Castro managed to avoid all of them. He even managed to stay in power after the Cuban missile crisis, which could have precipitated a full-scale invasion of Cuba, and after years of embargo and loss of his only sponsor, the USSR. Sometimes your enemy earns your respect, even if he still remains your enemy, and I can see where this would be one of those times.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Screw Florida

    Like Zimmerman, a lot of white Cubans are racists so the comment coming from Guillen probably infuriated them even more so. I agree with Guillen. Yes, he's a dictator but it's admirable that he was able to survive decades when many fell like Sadam, Noriega...

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

    MotttheHoople: thanks for proving my point. Can you read?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mott the Hoople

      SBP scribbles, "MotttheHoople: thanks for proving my point. Can you read?" Yes, I can read. I just wanted to express my own take on it. Plus, your scribbling IN ALL CAPS MAKES YOU APPEAR TO BE AN IDIOT. Got it? Get it.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew Smith

    The first amendment is an expression of more than a right that shall not be abridged by the government. The right to free speech without protection from retribution, private and public, for expressing an unpopular opinion makes freedom of speech a virtually meaningless right, Americans who do not respect the right of individuals to freely express their views are traitors to the country's ideals, no better than the Brown Shirts of Nazi Germany.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Wow! So you are saying that the liberals who support a big federal government that protects an individuals rights is a good thing? And that corporations who are only interested in which way the dollar bill blows, are akin to Broiwn Shirts? makes sense to me.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ruth Wood

    whatever happened to the value of 'free speech'?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. $$$

    The funniest thing about this debate is that Castro has probably been dead for almost a year.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Un-American

    What a dumb un-american move by Marlins. Suspend the manager for pactically nothing??????? Somebody in the home office has their head so far up their a** they can not see daylight. I think Marlins should be boycotted for stupidity. DUMB, DUMB and DUMBER.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. J. Lloyd

    I completely agree with previous comments addressing Mr. Guillen's right to free speech. What I object to far more is how a small group of Cuban immigrants based largely in South Florida (and also NJ) who seem to dictate US foreign policy toward Cuba. Clearly our long standing policy has not worked. I understand – Fidel Castro is a bad guy! However, he and his brother will probably remain in power until his death and NEWSFLASH – YOU ARE NOT EVER GETTING YOUR PROPERTY BACK!!! So move on and let the US conduct a more effective foreign policy.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. john

    I don't agree with his comment but It seems that a player lost his right to free speech he gave his opinion and they suspend him that is the league stepping out of bounds. He should not be suspended

    April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Free speech guarantees you don't go to jail for something you say it doesn't have anything to do with the ramifications of your speech outside of being legislated against.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      The league should be penalized for denying someone's consttutional freedoms.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat Tarantino

      What ever happened to "FREEDOM OF SPEECH". I cannot believe that he was suspended because of what he said. I thought this was Americas....not CUBA!!!!!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. paul

    fascism 101

    April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      Beyond belief. The USA exists no longer. Hopefully we can change the name to reflect the reality.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dexter Grimwald

    I get drunk when we win because I'm happy, and I get drunk when we lose because I'm sad. Lol.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nothing worse than

    religionist stating their beliefs.. Wonder if Castro harmed more children than the catholic church has?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dakota2000

    Home of the free land of the BRAVE.

    You need to be BRAVE to be free. Its always been that way. Good for him.
    But he should not have apologized unless they really did mix up his words.

    Coerced apologies are what communist countries do...

    April 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Bravery and stupidity are not the same thing. Bravery would be running into a burning building to save a child. Stupidity would be dowsing yourself with gasoline first.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. serg

    for sure, this is violation of human rights (right of free speech) and discrimination by political views. This really SAD DAY FOR AMERICA!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Widow

      Wow... You obviously don't get it... You can't say certain things esp if that said phrase damages your companies profits and image.. This isn't America putting him in jail.. He let down his employer.. Miami is known as "little Cuba" ... If I worked for a Jewish company and I was famous and said "I have respect for hitler" I am pretty sure I would be fired on the spot.. Just like that famous French designer.. There are some things you just cannot say if it affects the corporation in a negative way. In baseball every player has an image to maintain and Ozzie is the managing face of a new team (design/name), new stadium, millions spent on the offseason, this was. Iewed as a fresh start for Miami.. Seriously serves Ozzie right for screwing the sox over last season. And to think in 1988 I could have picked Carlton fisk and stood next to him for my honorary bat boy and I chose Ozzie instead.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
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