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. BBPatriot

    Ozzie should've waited until he was at the bar to talk politics.

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

    Castro isn't what the US is making him out to be. Castro led a revolution to remove a dictator and a government that was worse than the government he established. That seems like progress to me. Unfortunately, the US has done nothing positive to encourage continued progress in Cuba. Aside from establishing a communist dictatorship, a style of government the US has done it's best to portrait as an evil plague, what has Castro done to deserve the treatment the US has given him? A good question is why the US government is so afraid of communism? Governments tend to benefit financially from a communist system so why would they object? The problem seems to be that our government is influenced and controlled by those who have all the money. Those who have all the money want a free market system which they can manipulate politically as they capitalize on it's citizens. Communism doesn't seem to allow those with money to capitalize on those with very little so it would make sense that a financially corrupt government like ours would damn a style of government that would hinder it's lobbyists ability to make ridiculously more money. Which countries around the world are going bankrupt right now? Any communist countries? Who's the real problem here? Castro or our financially corrupt government?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Irrelevant.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jps

    I guess they can suspend him for whatever reason but I think it's going a bit too far. He did not say he loved Castro and wanted to have his children. He just acknowledged that the SOB is still around in spite of his considerable opposition. And who cares what he does in his private time after a game. I'd probably want a couple of drinks too. Maybe they could have just issued a statement saying his views do not reflect those of management. He didn't break any laws or hurt anyone, really.

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

    he should be deported to Gitmo

    April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kmoros1989

    He wasn't even serious. It was in the context of a joke.

    Guess the Marlins like Castro's methods too.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Yago

    long life to American Freedom of Speech. Honestly, who cares what he thinks of Castro o anything else. Miami's Cuba Exile are as radical, obtuse and radical as the Government on the Island.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JOSEPHINE

    VIVA FIDEL! The sanctions remain unfair and unjust. It was good riddance for Batista, the aristocrats and Mafia who oppressed the 'common people.' America's unfair and unjust sanctions on cuba end. Why are we really penalizing Cuba? Because it a little communist country while we continue to borrow, buy and trade with China the largest Communist county in the world? Such hypocrisy !

    One would expect oppression of freedom of speech..... but to suspend manager Ozzie Guillen for exercising his 'freedom of speech' in AMERICA? SUCH BLATANT HYPOCRISY!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Learn to Fish

    I'm no fan of Castro, but I am a fan of free speech. Why the suspension?

    April 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    First of all, one can have respect for someone without being a fan of that person. Second, many people say many things, often misspeaking what they really mean, as I suspect is what happened here. Third, people today seem to be completely over-sensitive to the slightest remark by any sort of public figure that could possibly be considered offensive in some remotely relavent context. Finally, as Pat has already said, I thought this was America still. I thought we were supposed to be able to speak our minds without fear of reprisal. While I certainly do not consider myself a champion of the rich and famous (nor of communist dictators such as Mr. Castro), they are people too, and if they are American citizens then that means the first Amendment should apply to them as much as it does to anyone. But is seems as of late that the first amendment does not apply to public figures. They may not have to fear reprisal from the government, but reprisals from employers and the general public can lead to the same thing. At best it shows that the public respects the first amendment far less than they respect a juicy media bonanza centering around some controversial remarks, which, as is the case here, aren't even really all that controversial to start with until the media blitzed us with their spin on things in order to sell more advertising.

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

    Does the first amendment protect moronic comments, when they offend the public?

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

      Absolutely

      April 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • craig

      So a guy gives an opinion – his opinion – and they stifle him and suspend him for having an opinion? So basically, America is about not having free speech. In some ways I agree, Castro has been there a very long time and unless you are just a stupid American in denial, read up on the Bay of Pigs and see how you would like a foreign country if they did the same thing to America. It's called empathy United States – you should get some.

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

      This isn't a 1st amendment issue. The government isn't punishming Guillen for his remarks, the Marlins are. He has the right to say anything he wants, but he has to know that he represents his employer and is therefore answerable to them. As a teacher, I am placed under similar limits. It's part of the job and I knew that going in, just as Guillen did.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Feast of Beast

    The Miami City Commissioners are calling for hm to be fired. Guess what nationality they are? So much for professional objectivity. You should come here to Miami and see this monkey show for yourselves. This is nothing....

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

    The local news media here likes to add gasoline to the fire. Every time Los van van come to play Miami there up in an uprour by the same free cuba mickey mouse groups that live off donations. Mccathyism is dead and there is freedom of speech, so tough and live with it. Some claim to be political refugees but are on the first flight to Cuba after acquiring their residency. You run into commies from Venezuela, Nicaragua and of course Cuba here so what can you do about it. All you have to do is listen to an anti-castro radio station and you'll hear periodically commies calling in.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. videriquamesse

    The Marlins have no room to complain about Guillen. He did this kind of stuff with the White Sox and he's going to continue to do it in Miami. They hired him to win baseball games, not to be a diplomat.

    April 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Shawn

    I agree he shouldn't have to apologize. Political opinions have nothing to do with baseball. I'm sure had he been with any other team this wouldn't have been an issue but Miami being "Little Cuba" had everything to do with this. If they don't like it they should get back on their raft and float back to Cuba!

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

      Or if they don't like it they just won't go to the new stadium the Marlins built in the middle of Little Havana. Hell of a way to run a business when you tell your main customers to get on a raft back to Cuba.

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

    Free Speech. He didn't insult anyone so why is he apologizing? Political jargon.

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