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. 68Wildcat

    We are just as bad as the worst elements in Cuba if we suspend our core committment to Freedom of Speech.

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

      April wrote:

      "What ever happened to free speech?!?!"

      No one is putting him in jail. You offend so many people, your free speech is just stupid speech, and you have to live with the consequences of scorn. The old saying goes: I disagree with what he says (Guillen) , but will defend to the death his right to make a damned fool of himself.

      And as far as the Marlin's manager's reputation (which was a joke in the first place), he is should see himself to be a role model for the millions of young people who love and watch baseball and he ought to also be apologizing for his admitted alcoholism and get himself into a rehab program. I guess his daily drinking and getting drunk didn't help him sleep this time.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 0704American

    So much for Freedom of Speech.......

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

      The 1st Amendment only applies to government restraints on speech. Not private restrictions.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. avgjoe

    The club did more to politicize the situation than the player ever could have. As a Spanish American, this player had every right to speak his opinion. His comment was about Castro's tenacity, not leadership. Who wouldn't agree with him about that? Shame on management. If anybody overstepped their boundaries and made a mess of things, it was them.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Leucadia Bob

    This is BS – the owners of the Marlins are freaking out because of tickets/merchandise sales. If it was in any city other than Miami you wouldn't even hear about this. Just because people don't agree with him is no reason to suspend him. You can say what you want about Castro, but that SOB did run the country for 60 years. Big Deal.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. martin

    -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. This is a BIG problem in regards to public relations, HUGE mistake. Keep in mind that of ALL places he said this in Miami, home of ALL CUBANS. I am sure death threats will be made too..

    April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MLB

    If his comments and opinions in any way hurt his employers ability to make money he can be reprimanded.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Somme1916

    Man, we should ALL respect Castro. He has allowed the US to have Guantanamo Bay prison in his country for all these years. If it wasn't for Fidel,where would we have put all those stinking terrorists?

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

      Let me clarify something.....Fidel Castro didnt allowed the used of the base Guantanamo, the USA took it by force and there is nothing Fidel can do about it or otherwise who wants to confront this beast of Super Potential..........But this is Obama is fault because he promise that he will closed the base and he did nothing, Obama is a Joke

      April 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sandiegobeachbum

    Guillen has every right to say what he wants. The problem I have is he is always putting his stupid foot in his mouth. He wore out his welcome in Chicago and is doing a damn good job already in Miami. He is too dumb to manage a MLB baseball team in my opinion. Many people have died trying to escape Cuba and this moron says he loves Castro in the biggest Cuban community in the US. Therefore I win my argument. He doesn't have the common sense to come in out of the rain. If he doesn't get fired, I would have a very shrot leash around his neck. This ignorant bozo needs to learn to keep his stupid mouth shut in certain situations. I would never have him working for me, that's for sure. He is a powderkeg ready to explode any minute.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jason S

    Who can side with Castro? I can understand if you admire the way he came to power like I do, but to like the man? He is evil. He is like Osama, Hitler, Stalin, Khadafi, and Saddam.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Somme1916

      ...and don't forget Ozzie Guillen and Pol Pot.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      and Snidely Whiplash!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ruggles

    It is really sad how few people know what the first amendment is about.

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

    Cubans in the states cry for freedom and liberty and what AMERICA stands for . We have fought for the US in many wars and have proved to be patriotic when the time comes. BUT as soon as they dislike what they hear or see re: Fidel , Cuba or anything related to Cuba in a positive manner they are the worst hate loving Americans towards what we truely stand for. We can say what we want , wear what we want and yes , praise who we want. American Cubans are hyppocrites when the time comes for there own needs. And Guillen didn't hurt the the Latin community . He just hurt the feelings of the Anti Cuban establishment in Miami. Not all American Cubans are Cuba haters . Though we stand together on Cuba being a free democray , we have a completely different way of expressing our love for Cuba. 50 years of hate and degredation towards Cuba has only played into the communist goverments hands.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobby Argenis

      Your an idiot: you have the slightest clue of the issue. Stop writing; you embarrass Americans

      April 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. conoclast

    Gee, now I'm saddened too - certainly not by Mr. Guillen's candor, but by the Marlins' paranoid reaction to it. Are all sports figures now dissallowed from having personal political opinions? I respect Fidel too - and for the exact same reasons!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. HeavyC

    Shame on ML baseball. While I don't agree with this man, they have no right to suspend him for exercising his free speech. Of course, I understand they have some sort of behavioral clause in everyone's contract, but that doesn't make this right.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike in NYC

      MLB didn't suspend him HeavyC .... his employer – the Miami Marlins did – for offending their customers. Try offending YOUR bosses customers and see what happens to you!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. remember

    proving the thuggish nature of the cuban expatriats in florida.

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

      thank you!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brah Ma

    After making the comment, doesn't he have a right to stand his ground? It's Florida after all.

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