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. Jeff

    While baseball is okay with steroids, free speech is not for the good of the game and cannot be tolerated. What a jerk the comish is.

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

      Again: Marlins suspended him not the league. get your facts straight.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bradd Shore

    So... Guillen is suspended and forced to apologize for exercising his first amandment rights. Step by step we seem to becoming a very different sort of country than we claim to be. For shame.

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

      Not at all. Ozzie more than likely has a clause in his contract that prohibits him from undermining the fan base. The fan base is Cuban. What he said right or wrong did not sit well with the community. This could affect attendance. If it does the Marlins have grounds to fire him.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve

    Obama is a great guy!!! Oh Oh my boss is calling me into his office.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • inkman66

      .... probably for a drug test after that CRAZY statement !

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

      I would fire you for that statement.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lynn

    This is America!! I'm outraged that Ozzie cannot have freedom of speech.
    He wasn't saying "the team" has this opinion. The Marlins should be ashamed!!
    Ozzie hold your head high as you walk through the streets of Miami. You should be respected for your right to freedom of speech. Other people of Cuban descent have freedom of speech also. They may or may not agree with you but that's the beauty of America!! Ozzie play ball!! Let Freedom of Speech ring loud!!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. n22s

    Tell me exactly, sad progressives, you would say if Ozzie had used the n or c word? What speech should be allowed without reprisal from employers? Who decides what is "not too bad" and what isn't too bad? And, given your penchant for Fidel, who would you round up and throw into prison if the speech was too bad?

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

    FOR THE LAST TIME: Mr. Guillen was not suspended for what he said........He was suspended for the absurdity of what he said and the harm that caused his employer.......the first Ammendment protects your free speech.........not your stupidity.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • BB

      And what harm did he cause exactly? He made a fairly innocent – and on top of that – factually true remark. I thoroughly despise what this PC gone amok movement is doing to this country. He should have never apologized...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gok

    hey cnn, fix your daMN BROKE A S S ITE

    April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rock Reynolds

    I disagree with Guillen. His biggest mistake was not the Castro comments. His biggest mistake is apologizing for the Castro comments.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. inkman66

    Guillen is lucky he did not say anything negative about Obama ...... or he would be out for the season !

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

    So what does Ozzie think about Venezuelan strongman/dictator, Hugo Chavez? After all he is Venezuelan-born and Hugo is a Castro pal and shares his communist ideas about governing his people. We all like to know.....

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

      Doesn't matter much...people will just put their own spin on whatever he says anyway...it'll get lost in translation.
      Any and all interviews should be conducted in Spanish, if they want accuracy...

      I still think that the "journalist" for Time Magrag is a pos.
      And I'm NOT going to apologize for that...

      April 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. crusader12

    HAHA....land of the free home of the brave. ZEIG, HEIL! ZEIG, HEIL! Heiling and marching, heiling and marching...

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

    Why the hell should he apologize? It doesn't matter if some folks don't agree with his opinion. What happened to free speech? Every American should write to the Miami team owners and tell them they support free speech, and boycott the game until they correct their mistake. Unbelievable that this is a happening. I'm a Canadian and can't believe what is happening in the USA sometimes.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      IMH – You do not know what you are talking about. Free speech only applies to the government not being able to arrest a citizen for speaking. Freedom of speech in no way protects a person from being disciplined at work. What Guillen said was offensive to many people in south Florida and the Marlins had every right to suspend him.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I totally agree.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • MEC

      EXACTLY. Thank you for stating the obvious that so many of the "ding-bats" in this country can't seem to understand.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • bEN

      He did not break any laws and we do have free speech. The uproar is over the fact he offended the Hispanic community, and more specifically the Cuban American community with his comments about Castro. This is a major issue for the Marlins franchise in general considering Hispanics and/or Cuban Americans make up a very large portion of their fan base ($). In fact, their new stadium was built in the heart of "Little Havana" in Miami.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jd2408

    Everyone has a right in this situation. Guillen had the right to say what he said, his employer has the right to do and say what they did, the Cuban-Americans have every right to express themselves and protest peacefully. Just because we have a right to say what we want doesn't mean that others don't have the right to disagree or not buy or use your products or protest it.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chipperkeet

    This is absurd. I'm no fan of Castro, on any level, but to suspend Guillen for his comments crosses over the line. His comments had nothing to do with baseball, so they should have been ignored, or treated with an eye roll or whatever. But to punish him in this manner HAS to be illegal, no?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      No, it is in no way illegal. Freedom of speech does not protect an individual against being punished by their employer. Freedom of speech only says that the government cannot arrest a person for speaking. Guillen was not arrested for speaking and the Marlins had every right to discipline him for it.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Larry

    For all those "Land of the Free" comments - you've apparently never signed an employment contract.

    My guess is that Mr. Guillen signed a contract with a fairly standard moral turpitude clause. Meaning, that as a manager, he is the very public face of the organization, that he CANNOT make personal commentary that in any way shape or form disparages a person or group of people.

    This one is pretty cut and dry, no?

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