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. Constance Leigh Craven-Cox

    WHERE do we live again????

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

    To every one of you citing "Freedom of Speech."

    YOU ARE MORONS. There have been 100 posts explaining why it does not apply to the conduct of private persons and companies, yet you are too stupid to either read or understand it.

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

      And there have been hundreds of posts, and Ozzie himself explaining, that he thinks in Spanish yet couldn't find the words in English, but that will not stop the MORONS from thinking the worst of him...what does that say about THOSE people?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. n22s

    Al Campanis was fired for his improper remarks. Where were you progressives defending his speech? What about Jimmy the Greek? Where were you? Neither was denied his free speech rights. Both were canned for remarks that their employers properly found offensive. Get a life, crack open a book and understand the meaning of rights.

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

      Was English their second language? No?
      Yeah, alright.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cWhatsNew

    Give me a break! Please do NOT bring politics into sports! This is not a communist or totalitarianism country that everyone can only have one correct view.

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

    Ugggg, the "Freedom of Speech" argument again. Freedom of Speech means you can speak your mind about the Government without fear that the Government will punish you for it. It has nothing to do with being able to say WHATEVER you want and there will be NO repurcissions at all. If an employee says something his/her employer finds offensive, it is perfectly within the rights of the employer to take action.

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

      While I defend freedom of speech, I agree with your point.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve, New York City

    A 5 game suspension??? Are they kidding? For What?

    Ozzie's suspension, Tryvon Martin/stand your ground, Elian Gonzalez, Casey Anthony – Florida proves once again that it's a haven for people with low I.Qs.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      And this coming from a person that lives in the cesspool named NYC.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James

    There goes Freedom of Speech out of Window! Besides the reason why Cuba has embargo is what US doing to the rest of the world, including marines that just landed in Australia.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. concerned

    FREEDOM of speech. This is the United States. He has a right to say he likes Castro. He has a right to his opinion and should not apologize period. To hell with those Castro haters in Miami!

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

    Thanks.

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

    I have no love for Castro but what happened to freedom of speech?

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

      Freedom of speech is a two-way street and your freedom to say something doesn't negate the repercussions of exercising that freedom.

      He said what he said.
      The people of Miami (the client-base) wanted something done or they would not support the team (and maybe find a way to remove the monetary support they gave for the stadium).
      The man's bosses heard the clients' outcry.
      The boss reprimanded Ozzie for it.

      The company has the right to exercise it's proper role of governance of it's members.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jerry

    I disagree with the suspension. All the guy said was he respected Castro for lasting over 60 years when there have been groups who wanted Castro killed, overthrown, etc... and still through all that he still managed to stay in charge. Its not like he said he supports or loves Castro in anyway.

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

      I'm with you if this is what Ozzie meant. Of course, he is facing the repercussions of his words now. With freedom comes responsibility.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheryl

      Yep, I read it the same way. Stupid & unecessary thing to say considering the community where he lives & works, and now it looks like the people are out to get him. Makes me super uncomfortable to see that he is being punished for saying something polictically unpopular – Hmmmm sounds like the Marlin's regime has similar rules to Castro's !!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jay Q. Regner

    Ridiculous; he expressed an opinion on Castro's staying power, not an expression of support. No different than saying that you respect Stalin for having lasted in power for decades in the cut-throat world of Soviet power politics, or Mussolini for making the trains run on time. It doesn't mean you support what they did, just that you respect the fact they were able to survive with so many people trying to oust them. He has nothing to apologize for.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike in Arizona

    This is just wrong!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cw

    OregonTom, PLEASE educate yourself on what Freedom of Speech actually means.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Spaceghost

    Maybe this will override the Trayvon Martin shooting for a few days...

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