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. Bobby Argenis

    Your an idiot: you have the slightest clue of the issue. Stop writing; you embarrass Americans. If Ozzie is so liberated to voice his opinion (as you mentioned) then allow cubans within Cuba to speak against Castro. Your truly an Idiot and hypocrite. Please invest in Political Science or at least get a GED.

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

    I got your back Guillen. I think you're a nut, but I respect how you speak your mind, though I may disagree with you. In fact, I don't even disagree with what you said. You make a good point, the darn guy has survived 60 years, even old age is having a hard time taking him down. lol. But, politics will be politics and the Marlins have a fan base they need to cater to, so I can understand why the economics behind it, forced them to do this. But keep truckin Ozzie, just don't come to NY! ha

    April 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jose

    I'm a hispanic, I live in south fl, the marlins have every right to suspend him as a private employer to suspend him from a business stand point of view. With that said, old CUBANS need to realize that this! Is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Go back to cuba and fight if you want a free cuba, don't "cut and run" like a lot of cubans said to dems for wanting to leave iraq. Don't bring your problems here. Enough is ENOUGH with your "struggles" talking smack from your couches in your ac 's watching your tv's. Either fight back or shut up!

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

      Jose I'm hispanic also. You are either Puerto Rican or a Democrat which one is it?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    Perhaps Free Speach is out in this country now...Why is he appologizing?...He has every right to speak his mind regardless as to whether or not even one person agrees with him....Actually, Cuba has an excellent Healthcare System where everyone receives great care and no insurance company ever gets in the way....More than we can say here, isn't it?....

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

      Tom, I have never commented on any public forum but you have inspired me ...
      I am a nurse, I am also the daughter of Cuban immigrants, the grandaughter of cuban grandparents who live in the islandand who are NOT receiving the care you mention. Our current health care system is far from perfect, but please know the facts before you say cubans have access to great care, this false reporting opened my eyes to the many ways media can distort reality ( Michael Moore)

      April 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. S.R.

    They all want to come to America but will have no loyality to this country when they get here. If they are all so proud of there country then why are they here?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JX

    Yeah, this deserves to be front page news.

    I have to get drunk to watch baseball, otherwise I cant stand it; same routine for 24 years :p

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

      do you propane and propane accesories by chance?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MKboatman

    He should be suspended for talking while intoxicated. Miami – Dade spent a half a billion dollars to build a state of the art stadium in a predominately Cuban neighborhood.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. reggis

    What kills me is this not even an overstepping of the government. This has to do with certain groups in this country who are too touchy about certain issues. If no one is physically hurt by someone else's actions then take a chill pill or go to time-out until you calm down. You don't like what he said, fine, but it's still his right to say it. Everyone on here shouting about freedom of speech you're an idiot too. This has nothing to do with government intervention of any kind. His BOSS was offended by his remarks and disciplined the man. That sounds like a day at the office to me and other normal people. The reason this country is going to hell is because everyone is looking to the federal government to solve their issues. Don't scream about wanting help from the federal government and then complain when they're all up in your business. Since when have you ever seen the federal government or government of any kind relinquish authority over anything once it's been granted to them. Learn to help yourself and stop being so petty.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gelli

    'The Land of the Free' – what a joke!

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

    People, the Miami Cubans did not suspend him. The Marlins suspended him. If you have a problem with his suspension be angry at the Marlins not the Miami American-Cuban community. They have every right to be upset about the comments made if they don't agree with them, and they would have the same rights to boycott and not go to Marlins game if the Marlins chose not to act.

    Guillen expressed his opinion, and the right of freedom of speech is definitely accurate, but it's the Marlins organization that acted in fear of having their team and new stadium boycotted. Don't the Cuban America groups have the same right to boycott as Guillen has to express his opinion?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Yes, they have the right to extremely overreact.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Josh

    What garbage. I suppose if he said he supported the brutal Batista regime, everything would be peachy keen. What is this, 1962?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Agreed. Because he said something positive about a foreign leader, he gets suspended from a U.S. sports team?

      Welcome to 1984.

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

      What happed to freedom of speech? He may as well live in Cuba again. What's the difference. He speaks against Castro and is suspended while others disrespect our president and continue to keep their jobs.

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

    People make mistakes..comments...get over it... no harm done..People need to relax a bit...!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jack and gerry goddard

    I thought we had free speech here. if some Cubans do not understand this, I figured those born in America did! what was the first country to ask if we needed aid after KATRINA. yes, it was Castro and CUBA. I WAS IN THE MILITARY DURING THE COLD WAR (58-64), And have NEVER understood why we back China and others who deny human rights but not what could be a good friend and neighbor. i am Irish-English and too respect Fidel Castro. is it because he has accomplished so much despite the CIA's numerous attempts to poison him, etc. Well, guess i'll just sit back and await the black helicopters now!!! boy, was Orwell right-on in 1984.

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

      Whether Cuba offered us help or not, whether they are our "enemy" or not, to say something POSITIVE about a foreign leader should NEVER get you suspended from a professional sports team in the United States.

      I realize they have a lot of bitterness towards Cuba in Miami, but seriously... this is too much thought control.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. M

    Being penalized for expressing an opinion. Land of the Free, I think not !

    April 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave

    Why do people have to apologize for having an opinion and then face the possibility of being punished by their employer? No one has the right to NOT be offended by anything anyone says!

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