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. miamivic

    If it weren't for Overtown, Liberty City and Carol City, Miami would actually be a nice, clean city.

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

    this guy is perhaps the epitome of the liberal mind, diseased and stupid

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

    Agreed. Way to cave to (ridiculous) public opinion, Marlins. You stupid basterds.

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

    As someone who has never lived in Cuba or has any relatives there I will leave it for them to judge.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sam

    Please stop crying about freedom of speech and the First Amendment. It does NOT apply to your employer. Please go read it. Please?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • GGG

      So employed people are not allowed free speech outside of their workplace? Please don't tell me that everyone who has sacrificed to protect our freedom from governments would gladly give up that freedom to corporations. I am sick and tired of Americans being fired or fined or threatened because of what they said. Freedom must include the right to say things that many find dumb or unpopular.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. $$$

    Let's see... a drunk who has strong opinions? Who'd have thunk!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. George Marshall

    He should sue the Marlin's for suspending him for exercising his freedom of speech. I'm no lawyer but this appears to be a clear legal violation.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Is this REALLY news worthy? Seriously? For every person complaining about what Ozzie Guillen said, I have a little challenge for you. Turn over 10 random products in your house and look at the "Made IN" label. I bet at least half of the...m say made in China. If this is true please shut the hell up about Ozzie and his opinion. China is a far more repressive government than Cuba. So, you are basically being a HYPOCRITE if you have products made in China and whine about Ozzie respecting Castro.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Elliot

    Miami is an armpit. The only people that like it there are tools, db@gs and Cubans. Never seen so much disrespect from people anywhere in the world and complete lack of work ethic.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • i love miami

      Don't be such a hater you know you just love our beaches and the food and let's not forget DISNEY WORLD...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike in NYC

      Uuuuhhhhh..... Sorry "i love miami" but if I'm not mistaken DisneyWorld is in Lake Buena Vista NOT Miami?! 😉 ºoº

      April 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elliot

      The food doesn't matter when the people serving it don't even want to give you the time of day becuase your some white bread that doesn't speak spanish.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. alwaysdem

    Land of the free, home of the brave.

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

      Outraegeous! If someone loves Fidel what would that have to do with baseball! Shame on you Marlins!!! You are anti-American!!!!!!!!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. zma1013

    What the hell does a Castro comment have to do with baseball??? Why is this guy sitting out 5 games for something that has nothing to do with baseball? I don't care if he said that Hitler was a nice guy, that doesn't relate to baseball at all or his job managing the team at all.

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

      Exactly! Just shows how powerful the Cuban-American community of Miami is and how little they actually care about free speech if it does not endorse their point of view. My ancestors who've fought for this freedom since the Revolution are rolling in their graves.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freedomdem

      so let me get this straight. the usa does not like cuba because they don't allow freedom of speech. so he gets suspended in the usa for using freedom of speech by saying he like another president. hmmmmmm i guess you are allowed freedom of speech as long as it is in agreement with 'the man'.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom O'Hagan

    What happened to Freedom of Speech. The teams management should be suspended for civil rights violations.

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

      I agree what the heck is the media doing NOT supporting the freedom of speech, this country is in trouble. I don't care what he thinks about Castro, good that he spoke his mind.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • devo

      you are abolutely correct. This is crazy, our country is about freedom. To top it off his comments were very low key.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Hernan

      Talk about irony. The reason most Cubans came to the US was to enjoy the many basic freedoms we take for granted, including freedom of speech. I think the Marlins are basically getting ahead of the curve to avoid any kind of local backlash or boycott. So it would seem that a different set of principles is at play here. $$

      April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. April

    What ever happened to free speech?!?!

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

    Too bad the stadium was built right down the street from Elian Gonzalez's home. The crowds that were attending last season were from Broward county. Now they have a longer drive. Marlins will be heavily dependent on this local area and I predict that Ozzie will be fired.

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

    IMO, professional athletes should stick to competing; professional actors should stick to performing; etc. Giving a microphone to an athlete so that he can spew his political views as though they have more importance than those of his fans is just a bad idea. Most of these people in the limelight are egomaniacs who are not in touch with reality anyway, and their distorted political views should not be aggrandized.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      And only YOU should be able to have an opinion and be able to express it! Sig Heil!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natalie neilsen

      Right...You are the only one that's out of touch with reality..Talk about ego...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
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