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. Nicolas

    I respect Castro and the Cuban rebellion as well.

    I assume some Miami-Cuban thugs (maybe from the Mariel boat lift?) want to cut my throat for that, but these exiles in Miami will never have power in Cuba – and that is a very very good thing.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      Cubans made Miami what it is and your just a big fat hater...Let me walk into my job and say I love Hitler and The KKK lets see how long i last.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      Miami is CUBA unfortunately. It was once a US city

      April 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jon

    Ozzie can't praise Castro in Miami the same way you don't praise Hitler in a Jewish neighborhood. Same goes for the KKK, Bin Laden and Stalin. Simply put these people are EVIL Murderers. To admire them is to admire EVIL, and if you do, then you too are sick.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mikeoh

    This is not a freedom of speech issue. He's representing his team, and statements like this are very harmful. How do you think Cuban Americans feel by such a careless statement? This was an appropriate penalty. Good job!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Oldlefthander

    "Freedom of Speech" .. doesn't necessarily mean "Freedom of Speech without consequences"...... He can say what he wants.... the Government won't prosecute him..... but it still "affects" people.... and that is why he is in trouble... whether right or wrong.... that is how America works now.....someone is always "affected"..... and gets to throw their hands up and say "That is about me.. take it back"..... 50 yrs ago.. this would just be rubbish.... I may not agree with what he said.. but I see his point of view....

    April 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 60's Man

    What is going on in Florida? Did they form their own country or something? First comes the election debacle, then Stand Your Ground is somehow translated into Persue and Engage, and now Free Speech is on life support. I think we should all cancel any Florida vacation plans we might have and hit them in their pocketbook.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      Yeah and I love Hitler and the KKK...How do you like that...Yes please cancel your trip I'm sick of all you cheap tourist that come here we need people from other countries to come here not you...I love Miami and I'm also cuban...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    Ridiculous. The thought police strike again.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ricky

    Another example of the Cuban mafia in Miami forcing a guy to apologize just because he spoke his mind. He did not say he condoned Castro's behavior, or even that he thought that Castro's policies were beneficial to Cuban people who were treated like slaves by the aristocrats, he just said that he respected the guy because a lot of people tried to assassinate him and failed, and now he is dying of old age. Now, I'm pretty sure that there are a bunch of retired CIA guys who would agree with that statement.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jackson

    Its kind of frightening how freedom of speech in the USA is becoming more and more a thing of the past.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim Walsh

    He is an idiot and deserves what he got, and getting drunk after every game just amplifies his idiocy

    April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. nomercy101

    @#$% ozzie, @#$% castro @#$% the marlins @#$% the cubans

    April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SusyQ

    I'm confused. Why does baseball or anyone else for that matter care what this guy thinks about Fidel Castro? A 5 game suspension because he said something stupid? Since when do ones political views, however stupid they may be, have anything to do with your job in baseball?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • sammy sozo

      Maybe because the neighborhood the stadium is located in is called Little Havana. Get it?

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

    Geez, leave the guy alone. If as a nation we can tolerate Limbaugh, Olberman, Bush, Clinton, The Kardasians....surely we can tolerate this guy. I am amazed with all leaders that treat the public badly yet that society tolerates it (Saddam, Castro, Hitler,Nero, etc). History is filled with tyrants and that shouldn't mean a guy can't play ball.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ed

    Usually political correctness is enforced from the political left. Not the case in South Florida, where the Cold War never ended and history (at least regarding Cuba) stopped 50 years ago. The rule of Castro has been a disaster for Cuba, but he has outlasted 10 US presidents. Ozzie was just acknowledging his longevity and ability to hang on to power for so long, which does warrant some begrudging respect. If Ozzie was working anywhere else, this wouldn't even be a news story.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Florida is pathetic

    The Marlins management are just ticked off because they're going to finish in last place again this season. LOSERS. lol

    April 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. james

    WOW what a joke suspend him for 5 games for his opinion. what about the actors who say they respect what castro has done for his country steven spielberg, jessie jackson, oliver stone, al sharpton. what is happening to them. NOTHING. This is a complete joke and a disgrace to ozzie. Baseball already stinks like a bad toilet but this just makes it worse.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
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