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. leeb

    Viva Fidel Ozzie tiene razon

    Why all this hate for Fidel. We love Fidel here in the Divided $tates of America

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

    If former president Jimmy Carter can go to Cuba for tea and crumpets with Fidel Castro without fear of reprisal, why is the comment by Ozzie Guillen such a bad thing?

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

    check castros record against US leaders, WELL, how many deaths ? Wars?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Del Garcia

    In reality, "freedom of speech" does have its limitations, mainly when you publicly insult and/or hurt a certain group... What if Mr. Guillen had stated that he respected or admired Hitler or the Ku Klux Klan ?... Then we would have had another type of uproar. Given the history of Cuba, Fidel Castro is right up that category of despised historical figures... I agree with the Marlins' decision to suspend him for his thoughtless comments, even if that is how he truly feels... Think before you talk !

    April 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. c s

    The best way to rid Cuba of Castro is to abolish the trade embargo and travel restrictions. Almost every knows that the trade embargo allows Castro to blame all of Cuba's problems on the US. If President Nixon can go to China during the Vietnam war and shake hands with Chairman Mao, then ending this trade embargo should be a no brainer. Unfortunately, the anti-Castro Cubans have a choke hold on the Republicans in Florida and so this useless policy continues to the present day. The real reason for the embargo is MONEY. The Cuban-American Funjul brothers makes millions due to sugar embargo with Cuba. The US pays an extra $2 or $3 billion a year for sugar because of the sugar embargo. Read it about here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/29/opinion/america-s-sugar-daddies.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm .

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

      True...but if we can kill our OWN presidents as well as jostle leaders of other countries, why is Castro still around? Isn't this the same guy who let the Russians use the region as a nuke hostel?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      I was in shipping in the Caribbean for years,, and we shipped a lot of forestry and building materials out of mobile for The Dominican republic. and as fast as we off loaded , it was loaded aboard a ship heading to Cuba, I live in Canada and we get 1000s of Americans here at our airports to transfer to Canadian aircraft heading for vacations in Cuba,, Cuba Immigration and Customs will not put a stamp in passports because the American customs and immigrations looks for their people that think the embargo is rubbish and still travel there.. the only people hurt from the USA having a piiisssing match against Cuba is the US.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jesus

    Guillen has always been a Hypocrite!!! He admires and loves Castro and Chavez, praises their system of government, but he "LIKES" the capitalism $$$ of the USA and the Venezuelan winter league. I totally disagree with him, but he supposedly lives in a free country with freedom of speech and should think and speak whatever he pleases, not like his fellows Venezuelan o Cubans for that matter...right Guillen?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. D BANK

    Whenever you exercise your right to Freedom of Speech just remember, whoever you offend or whoever feels offended by you also have the right to make your life difficult, if it is in there power to do so.

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

    Evidently, Mr. Selig is okay with steroids in baseball, but there is a zero tolerance for that free-speech stuff. What a jerk.

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

    Wow. Just wow. I have officially seen it all. American's you should be ashamed of yourselves, signed – Canada.

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

    I don't hear a clear simple I am sorry...He seems to be skirting around that.

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

      "I'm very, very, very sorry," he said. <- from article above. Shees!. At least read the article before you comment. I am no Castro supporter, but I am deeply offended by the way Guillen's 1st ammendment rights were trampled.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kingofthenet

    So I guess 'Freedom of Speech' is ONLY for speech people like? This wasn't offensive in the least.

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

      He was mearly giving the Devil his due.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • parkmore

      Yes, where is democracy and freedom?

      April 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • martin

      it looks like this comment was made in IN CUBA maybe but no in USA but no it was made again in USA,,,, does anybody remember good old Castro came here after the revolution to ask for HELP,,, and what happen and why is he a communist now,,, WE MADE HIM

      April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      ..not only does he have a right to freedom of speech but who are the Florida Marlins and the hate filled Florida Cubans to persecute him for exercising his rights? Another ignorant Florida move...the redneckness seems to be growing

      April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • iRex

      Freedom of speech includes the right to freely speak of why you don't agree with someone else's statements, its a two way street.

      I don't get why people think free speech is impeded when people use their free speech rights to call someone out on what they said. Everyone has the right to say something stupid, and everyone else has the right to tell them it was stupid.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. n22s

    Remember Marge Schott? Run out of baseball for sympathetic comments about Hitler? Whoa...she was just exercising free speech. And, properly, canned for it. Exactly what speech, in your fevered progressive mind, should be allowed and what should be banned? Or is it that employers have a right to do what they feel is in their best interest? Hypocrites! You were properly and correctly silent about Marge. Why would you care so much for Ozzie's speech?

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

    He exercised his freedom of speech! This and for many other reasons Cubans left Cuba... because they did not have freedom of speech. He has the right to his own opinion (whether we agree with it or not). Shame on MLB for suspending Ozzie. Come on people... This is the land of the "FREE"!

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

      Marlins suspended him not MLB. He may have ruined the reputation and sellability of the team in the near future. You can be assured there is a cluse in his contract that prohibits him from doing that. 5 games is not overly strict, have to see what the cuban population has to say about him. If they won't attend games then Ozzie will have to be fired.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. whattheheck

    What is with us hating fidel castro? Its not like he has sent terrorists to this country. He has his form of running a country and we have ours. As far as human rights are concerned I think both he and our sanctions dont have much to show for. So if there are any sensible Americans out there. Stop with this insane hatred of a guy who has nothing to do with us. I think we have far greater enemies, like pakistan North Korea etc. This whole cuban crisis hangover needs to stop. So he hurt our ego so we are going to punish Cuba for centuries now?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ben

    It'd be less ironic if he wasn't right. Right or wrong, good or evil, surviving 60 years as a dictator is by definition pretty badass.

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

      Dick Tater at your servicew\

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