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. Ben James

    The living standard in Cuba is far better than when ruled by the USA. Read your history if you don't believe.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Uncle Sam's wierd cousin

    Nothing says USA more than Freedom and Baseball .... except apparently the freedom of opinion part.

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

    One of the key things that differentiates the United States from Cuba is that people are allowed to say things, even controversial things, without being punished. Those who would impose a punishment on Ozzie Guillen for speaking words have something to learn about why we are different than Castro's Cuba.

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

    Guillen may have made a stupid comment, but last I knew we still had free speech in this country. Good thing the Marlins management isn't in charge of the U.S. I'd have been thrown in jail for my criticism of our government!!

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

    Freedom of speech? Sure, but if he is honest, why he doesn't go to play for Castro , $100/month!!
    Be free there , Baseball, very low class....

    April 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Linney

    Really? I thougt I had misread the headline! Why should anyone apologize for an opinion? And to be suspended? That's so out of line it's sick.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. $$$

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but small group of powerful people all over this country dictate all American policy. Greed is good!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Greg Walton

    Why should this player apologize? For speaking the truth? Sorry, but it IS amazing that Castro has been in power this long. It IS amazing the U.S. Government has had its butt kicked by this guy for 60 years. Whether you like what was done or not, it IS amazing for any one man to start with 12 disciples and take over an entire country within two years. Let's see YOU do that. I find it moronic to tell this player his opinion is wrong. Athletes have been used in "politics "since the beggining of time, to push anything from shave cream to vouching for political candidates. I'll end with ......... Really??

    April 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GB

    Ozzie should have not publicized his personal opinions about Castro; especially since It is a such a sensitive issue with the Cuban community and that such opinons cause so much distress. However, we are NOT in Cuba and free speech is a RIGHT in the United States (1st Amendment), so on that ground, he has a right to express his opinion whether the Cuban community in Miami or anywhere else in the continental United States agrees or not. Now, as a PRIVATE company and in the best interests of organization, the Marlins have a RIGHT to discipline him as they see fit If his comments will hurt future ticket sales, attendance, community support and overall revenue.

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

      He's lucky to still have a job.

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

    So much for "so-called free speech"....The U.S. is a police state at best...you must have the OK from the government to travel some places...you can speak but it must agree with the powers to be...why not start drafting people.....the only right this poor country has is to walk around with guns like the 1880's and shoot it up! They talk a good game but as far as freedoms they are one step away from dictatorship.!!!!!

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

      We need to stop talking about free speech and liberty. It is real dictatorship that is solely taking place in The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA right now.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • reggis

      What are you talking about!!!! While I agree this country has gotten to PC, it was his BOSS not the federal government that suspended him.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lincoln

      REGISS what is the difference??? Do we have free speach or not. Or is it ok if the corporations dictate to you instead of your governmen?????. sheesh

      April 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • AB

      Every time a public figure someone says something stupid and is criticized, people bring up "Freedom of Speech". An employer suspending or firing an employee for saying something stupid has nothing at all to do with "Freedom of Speech". We're not talking about the rule of law here, this is just an employee being repremanded for saying something very stupid. People are fired everyday for much less. Big deal.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tonyb

    How foolish- politically correct claptrap. The USA was stupid in the late 1950's in not bringing Castro into the sphere as an ally- he's no worse than the countless dictators the USA has embraced over the years and probably better than most.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lincoln

      actually Tony he is different than the ones our Govt, embraced because he wasnt placed there in power in place of an elected govt. which we tended to do and he wasnt murderous like they type we seemed to support. And he wasnt in it for his own enrichment and a puppet for big business. but you are right he should have been more included that pushed away, but the businesses that run this country today wanted to run his as well and so "they" wouldnt allow inclusion, via paid off politicians ie helms.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan H

    Give me a break, they have no right to suspend him. The real reason Cuba has been kept poor is by the U.S. embargo, otherwise Cuba would be a prime tourist destination for Americans. America has zero right to impose our government on other countries. Additionally, Ozzie has every right to express an opinion, this isn't Nazi Germany.

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

    Land of the free!!!!!! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha .You will not speak your mind in this country. no sireeee, not if we dont agreeeee. I can almost here the muffled bleating of the sheep, when you are not allowed to say what you want. Its coming just as surely as it came to the fellow. If we dont come to his defence then freedom for all is dead.

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

    viva la stupid

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

    That's crazy, how can people harp so much about free speech, but when someone says something we don't agree with there's a problem?

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