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. haankzmith

    And Rush is still on the Air!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    Please click on my name to donate. Stop the persecution.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Barney

    Um, last time I checked, we live in America and you can pretty much say whatever you want. For them to suspend him for saying something so benign is ridiculous. That's exactly the type of thing Castro would do to someone if they spoke on something in a way he didn't like. The irony. America, c'mon...let's go!

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

    Marlins have every right to discipline him not only because of what he said, but because what he said is going to affect fans coming to the game. Sure, Ozzie as a person has a right to say whatever he wants and the Marlins as his employer also have every right to fire him for that speech.

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

      Okay, I see your point now. This will affect the Marlins' business. It makes sense to me now. Sorry, I was just curious.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SusyQ

    Sorry but I still don't get it. I can see why the Cubans in Florida may not like his comments but why would his employer suspend him for 5 games? I guess you can't be in basebal and have an opinion.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Morbus

    Yes, Martin, free speech DOES mean no consequences. If speech is punished, it has a chilling effect, meaning people will not speak. It's ridiculous to punish this player or anyone else for stating an opinion.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • It may be hopeless still yet

      Maybe we should use puppets and crayons so that you'd understand. ANYBODY – got puppets and crayons???

      April 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LarryB

    Well, it's not as if this is a free country or anything. Say something unpopular about a subject unrelated to your occupation, and your employer can suspended you for it. Freedom of speech applies only if what you spout is politically correct.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      LarryB – actually freedom of speech only applies to the government not being able to arrest a citizen for speaking. It does not apply to a private business. It would be like me calling my boss a jack@ss and then expecting protection from the freedom of speech to keep me from being fired. It does not work that way.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JiminNM

    He has a right to express his opinion about Castro and should sue the Marlins.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drumming up some business?

      You're a dirtbag lawyer, right?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      JiminNM – Guillen has the right to express his opinion and the Marlins have the right to suspend or fire him. Guillen is not protected in any way from losing his job by the freedom of speech.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. PumpNDump

    baseball been berry berry good to me. Guillen is an idiot.

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

    I said "WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH?" This is America not CUBA!!!!!! I can't believe Miami residents are soooooo prodigious.

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

      He is not a private citizen making a comment; his salery is subsidized by the citizens taxpayers of Miami; additionally he represents an organization that is the Face of this city thus he has to answer to them... very simple.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • tonyinlargo

      Oh!, that's right. I'm glad he spoke-up, because, now I know that he believes in what Castro stands for (communism), which is not what I believe. You're right, EVERYONE has freedom of speech, and I exercise my freedom of speech and say: OZZIE GUILLEN is an IDIOT and an uneducated drunk anachronism who hasn't woken-up to the fact that ruthless outright dictatorships, not communism (both bad, no matter how you look at them), rule in Russia and China today.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. daniel

    Remember in this new America you are not allowed to have opinions that are unpopular.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • $$$

      Arrest this man!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      sad but true..

      April 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tonyinlargo

    Good. Ozzie Guillen must be an idiot. Castro's brand of equality is that of "equality of impoverishment for all". I was a sideline fan of Ozzie Guillen, until now. If he likes Castro so much, he should return to Cuba where moron Castro banned "stealing" bases in the game of baseball early in his "career".

    He shouldn't be suspended by the Marlins. He should be fired outright!!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. WheresFreedom

    I don't understand it. He didn't say he agrees with the way he has ruled. Just that he respects him for surviving although he was often the target of assasination. He has fully explained and the explanation is believable. What is the problem?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • n22s

      He is Hitler to the Cuban people. What's the big deal? What would you think of anyone who admired Hitler for surviving assasinations against him? You believe in cultural sensitivity? How can you not know of what he has done to the Cuban people? LOL – they have universal medicine. Go there genius. Oh, they also have firing squads, political prisons, torture, etc. Enjoy your vacation.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BobZemko

    This morning, Ozzie was quoted as saying that Hitler was "misunderstood."

    April 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      No that he use to be part of the KKK but he had a change of heart...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DC Clark

    If it was any other city but Miami this wouldn't be a story. Cubans took over Miami decades ago, and now they are butt hurt again

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