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. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    Seriously? What do his remarks have to do with baseball. Who cares what he thinks about Castro? I thought we were allowed to think whatever we want as long as we do our jobs well.

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

    So every time someone says something that others don't agree with, it's cause for job suspension/termination. Wow..who knew?!?! The unemployment lines are about to get A LOT longer.

    It's OK to have an opinion and voice that opinion, even if others don't like it. That's what America is all about.

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

      @chillourmiami- yes you can have free speach, but it doesnt mean you dont face consequences when you say things. come on man, you know this. Sure, you can tell your boss to $uck off, but you will most likely get fired

      April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian

    This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. No government is punishing Ozzie Guillen. This is business. He is being punished by his employer who just built a new ballpark in the Little Havana section Miami and is trying to build a fan base. What Guillen said offended every Cuban living in Miami who are customers of the Miami Marlins. If I am insensitive to or insult my customers, I will get fired. And so will you. Go ahead, try it.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Hilton

      So, you're saying that our freedom of speech should be subordinate to the whims of money? Then we have no freedom of speech. If the government can't censor us, then our bosses shouldn't have that right, either. And those Cuban's, having come from a repressive regime, should be more tolerant of other people expressing their views. Otherwise, they're no better than Castro.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. STEVE

    I guess freedom of speech is dead, huh?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trailer Trash Florida

    Florida: The Land of Red_Necks and the Home of FEMA Relief.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      And idiots like you who come here to vacation!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      I better not see your ass getting a sun tan in Key West or taking your kids to Disney...another hater...lol

      April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. martin

    TO ALL those who wonder where free speach has gone-think of this-We have free speach, but that doesnt mean you dont face consequences if you say something. Wew can have free speach at your job too and tell your boss to $uck off, but you will probably get fired! Keep in mind that in his contract he is to represent the team in a positive manner on & off the field. It was expected to see him be suspended to say the least

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

    Castro's "rule" has protected a coral reef and other natural areas that would have long ago been trashed by American tourists if the embargo had been lifted. Cubans practice sustainable fishing and love their wild places. I used to be all for lifting the embargo. Now I think it would be a poison apple for them.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trailer Trash Florida

      Hmmmmm... insightful.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dalewalk

    When you live your life drinking every day, you turn angry. Ozzie has been expressing his anger in many hostile ways towards fans, umpires, players, the general public, and he's gotten away with it... up til now. Now he has crossed the inevitable line that drunks eventually do and has thoroughly humiliated himself and all of the Cubans living in the U.S. It's all about alcoholism and Ozzie is only one of many public figures who has embarrassed themselves under the influence; e.g., Joe Namath, Jeff Overton, DeShawn Stevenson, John Daly, Ben Rothlesberger, and on an on. Ozzie is contrite only because he realizes now how everyone will look at him from now on. Not just a belligerent smart baseball mind, but a dangerously stupid and hurtful human being. I don't know how he'll ever weather this one out. He's gone.

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

    First off guys, the MLB did not suspend him... The Marlins did. Second, I believe his apology is sincere and not coerced... Ozzie doesn't get coerced.

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

    He just stated his views, you don't have to agree with them. The Marlins really don't care because this has no effect on playing baseball but it is a public relations nightmare being in Miami so they are just rying to keep the Cuban-American fans/residents happy and calm with a suspension. Guillen should have been more sensitive to the community that he plays in.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Hilton

      The Cuban community-having come from a repressive society-should have been more accepting of a person's opinions, regardless of content. After all, isn't freedom of speech one of the benefits they came here for?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Trebek

    Miami, New Orleans, Washington D.C.....top 3 cities containing the worst America has to offer

    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Wow! Very insightful of you. Please expound on your statement. I'm curious as to why you chose those three cities.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Doug Ericson

    The Church doesn't like communism.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leucadia Bob

      What does that have to do with it? Are you saying the Church controls the media in Miami? Sad.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      No this was a coded message that only a few can decipher. I am sworn to secrecy, but I can say it has something to do with sarcasm.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Charles Hilton

    Those Miami Cubans disappoint me and I have lost all respect for them. They come to America for our alleged freedoms, among which is freedom of speech, and the moment they hear something they don't agree with, they want to censor it.
    If that's the way they are, then they should have stayed in Cuba, for they are no better than Castro.
    On the other hand, their self-righteous hypocrisy fits them well for life in the so-called "land of the free".

    April 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe in Miami

      If I didn't live in Miami, I'd agree with you.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Armando

      Come on man, I'm Cuban and I dont want you to hate me

      April 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      No they came to America because they were forced out of their country and their only other choice was Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

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

      I am Cuban born and I agree.....Everyone has the freedom to say what they want even if we do not agree with what they say or do....who are we to judge. I wish people would just take the stick out of their rear and live and let live.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. No one has censored his speech.He has not been sent to jail for his views, which would have happened in Cuba. It's just that the Cuban community in Miami will boycott the Marlin games if they do not take any actions. They are exercising their rights to take actions for his comments, but they have not censored him.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ddog

    Truth be told....Money is why they are suspending him and money is why he's saying he's sorry.. Sad state of affairs..GREED

    April 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • martin

      @Ddog- i dont know where you get your facts from, but money is NOT why he was suspened. It was to please the fans and keep them happy. Also, apologizing wasnt for money, it was a public relations matter. I think your comment was a little to generalized.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Astrogal

    If you don't live in Miami, you have NO IDEA how much the politics of Cuba infiltrates daily life here, and the media. The world could be ending, but the local news on Univision and Telemundo will still cover Castro taking a dump as the top story. To say you support Castro here is tantamount to treason, rightly or wrongly but that's just the way it is. Not surprising this happened.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95