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. NJ Guest

    His views and subsequent suspension seem to be violation of his right to free speech. There are more pressing matters in the country than to suspend a coach due to his personal opinion

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

    Castro and Chavez are lunatics but what happened to free speech in the USA?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      He exercised his right to free speech, he was not arrested or punished by the government.

      If I said that I admire Osama Bin Laden on television, in my baseball uniform. dont you think I'd be a target for some punishment? especially if the customers said they wern't buying any more tickets.

      Does his right to free speech trump an employers right to do what is best for my company's profits ?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. This is Weak

    Wow, and only because they moved to Miami and renamed their team the Miami Marlins. All those Cubans in Miami are deserters, they left there country to come to ours, so their opinion is not greater than Ozzies. Opinion is opinion, he was asked a question in a different form of communication, magazine, and it has nothing to do with baseball, the most you can say is Ozzie is a communist, end of discussion. Only if because he made a political remark can you suspend him, but it needs to be done to anyone else who has said similiar things.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Juan

    WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH? COMMUNISM IS NOT ILEGAL PEOPLE. IF THEY DONT LIKE HIM THEN HIS PEOPLE (CUBANS) NEED TO GET HIM OUT. DONT COME HERE AND TRY TO IMPOSE YOUR POLICIES ON EVERYONE. IF HE RESPECTS FIDEL CASTRO, THATS HIS CHOICE.. WELCOME TO AMERICA HISPANICS.... THE LAND OF THE FREE!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I wish there was a THUMB UP button to push. Your response was PERFECT.

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

    "But, he said, he originally spoke of Castro in Spanish and "the translation to English was a bit confusing.""

    OK - here's an idea. STOP SPEAKING SPANISH IN PUBLIC! YOU'RE IN AMERICA NOW, JAGOFF!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nancy G.

    So what happened to freedom of speech? I getting a really sick and tired of people getting fined, suspended and fired over their opinions. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, school teacher, Miami Marlin or whatever, we all have a right to voice our opinions. Zero tolerance should have nothing to do with thoughts. Give me a break.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike in NYC

      Sorry Nancy – but freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. Try offending your bosses customers and see what happens to YOUR job.

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

    Freedom of speech is no longer a freedom in America. You can't even talk any more without risking losing your job, getting sued, or getting arrested. This country is turning into a gigantic prison.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Calm down

    Although it was a gaffe.. I have to say, I think it's ridiculous that he is getting punished over some stupid comment. People are over reacting.

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

    While he has the right to free speech ( The secret police didn't arrest him and put him in the hole)
    his employer has the right to hire, fire or suspend anyone they want.
    should employers be forced to keep and employee even if he/she is vocally disruptive?
    I am sure if no action was taken the Marlins would loose customers (fans). By his vocal opinion he was detremental to the bottom line of the Marlins business. what if he was vocal in support of Gay marriage, banning guns, Global warming or critical of religon? all of these hot button issues could cost the team business

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

      Why don't people understand. The word you are looking for is LOSE....they are going to LOSE customers....not LOOSE.

      My BIGGEST pet peave....

      April 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. i love miami

    Sorry but we do....Another hater...lol

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

    He has the right to say any stupid thing he wants to. To suspend him is wrong.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • You have no clue

      When an employee damages the image of the corporation with ill-advised comments or actions, they have every right to suspend or even terminate that employee.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. remember

    imagine a NY yankees manager calling Israel a terrorist state. s/he wouldn't survive a day.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Protect thyself by all means

      S/he? A "she" managing the Yankees? ROFLMFAO.

      Wattsamatta U.? Afraid of the PC police?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. el-suzo

    I am confused. This offends who? We are supposed to have free speech here, and what he said is not even that controversial. I don't watch baseball or care about the professional baseball culture, but this goes beyond sports and crosses the line of freedom of speech. He is being punished because he said something that powerful people in his community don't like. Plain and simple.

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

    The last time I checked, this is the United States, the country where people are free to speak, no matter how offensive or controversial. Shame on the Dolphins.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      G – You are confused. Let me see if I can help you out. First off Guillen is the manager of the Marlins baseball team, not the Dolphins football team. Also, Guillen's right to free speech was not infringed upon as he was not arrested. Freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything without consequences. Freedom of speech means the government cannot arrest you for speaking.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alyarby

    Like many here, I despise Castro and what he has done to Cuba. But I also am very distressed at the increasing infringement upon our right to free speech. Every time I turn around, someone is losing a job or paying some other heavy penalty because of what he or she said. I'm not sure how much truly free speech anyone of us really has anymore.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      Freedom of speech means that the government cannot arrest a citizen for speaking. It does not mean that an employer cannot fire you for speech that could be harmful to the business. It would be like me going up to my boss and telling him he is a buffoon and then expecting me to be protected by freedom of speech. I would not be arrested for such speech, but I could be fired without consequences to my employer.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • c

      Americans tend to see other peoples history in some kind of macabre vaccuum ; in which the US is totally blamless in the death and destruction this country inflicted on Cuba.
      Read the History of Slavery in Cuba from 1511 to 1868; you might grasp why many Cubans love, respect & admire Castro & Che Guevarra. Those 2 freedom fighter's were the first to successefully and completely free Cuba from the grips of Spain and later imperialist America in Cuba's 400 year history of death and destruction from foreign powers. At one point with the help of American backed Dictator Batista ; American companies dominated Cuba's economy; ordinary Cubas were reduced to crippling poverty. Castro kicked out many fo the people who helped strip Cuba of its resources were given assylum in the US. Many of them and their descedants have taken over south Florida. Right or wrong Castro's flirtation with Communism was his lame attempt to bring normalcy to Cuba; he sought help from whom ever he could get it to help his people. Castro is to some Cubans what Washington or Jefferson was to Americans. Wer should n't so quick to demean this coach.; why shouldn't he admire Castro.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
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