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. atadbitridiculous

    America is transforming itself into a place where it's impossible to have an opinion that's out of line with the majority. Is Castro a Communist? Yes. Have the people living in Cuba suffered during his sixty year reign? Yes, but a U.S. trade embargo has only compounded an already bad situation. Does being a Communist automatically make one a despot? Only in the West. All the talk about dictators and how Guillen having respect for one automatically means he's validating the actions of every dictator EVER is absurd. That's akin to saying Hitler absolutely despised Communists, and since you also despise Communists you support every single thing Hitler ever did. Puh-lease.

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

      I agree. And, by the way, why are we such great trading partners, and getting loans from, A COMMUNIST COUNTRY LIKE CHINA????? Where there is money involved, nothing else seems to matter to the United States, heh?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave S

      i agree with this..plus they now have laws in place to lock up just about any dissenter they want. They federalize the sidewalks, they're in the process of spying on everyone in the country...even more than currently. We are lsoing our freedom faster than can be imagined. Nationlistic...and blind. fearful..but ignorant.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Scott S.

    Most of you are abusing the free speech argument. The 1st amendment claims that the government cannot prosecute you in any way for saying what you want. You are not protected from the standards of behavior you agree to with your employer. You might have every right to say whatever you want in the eyes of the government, but your employer has every right to punish you as they see fit if you are in any way, shape, or form hurting their brand, reputation, or profit margin. Ozzie Guillen has done all 3. Those of us who work "real jobs" might not have been so lucky to just be suspended.

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

      If our freedom of speech is subordinate to the whims of the market or to the whims of our bosses, then what good is it?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • craig

      Hey Scott – rather moronic comments coming from you. It's a stupid move to suspend a guy for giving an opinion and I really don't think you know what you are talking about. Had he been fired, a very expensive civil suit would be on it's way.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Hilton

      And I'd wager a paycheck that such speech is nowhere mentioned in Guillen's contract.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott S.

      What makes my comments moronic, the fact that they're correct? Or have you never worked anywhere in your life? What I said is 100% true, like it or not. The fact of the matter is, Ozzie Guillen represents the Miami Marlins organization. If the Miami Marlins feel he is acting in a way not consistent with their values or how they want to be perceived in the community, they have every right as his employer to punish him as they see fit. That's not my opinion craig, that is a stone cold FACT. You are compensated at your job not just for working, but for representing the company you work for in the best way possible. If you don't understand that, I can't help you.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave S

      but that doesn't make what your employer does to you correct. They need to back off as well

      April 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Hilton

      Scott S.
      "...they have every right as his employer to punish him as they see fit."
      Does that include capital punishment?
      What difference does it make if my freedoms are repressed by the government or by corporations-repression is repression. And, like I said before; if my freedoms are subordinate to the whims of the market or to the whims of my boss, then what good are they?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • mtlhd

      Yup. In my case, as a Soldier, my employer happens to be the U.S. Government. I cannot say anything negative about my Commander in Chief or I will be prosecuted in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jose

    Cubans never let me down. man oh man lol these ppl are in the UNITED STATES NOW. Please, go fight Castro in cuba

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

      Thank you! I would think that those who escaped a repressive government would be MORE tolerant of controversial speech, not LESS.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Trebek

    Miami, New Orleans, Washington D.C..... Top 3 cities containing the worst people America has to offer.

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

      Racist much?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • craig

      Trebek you are a worthless human being with nothing to offer humanity. Please go jump off a bridge in any of the cities you deplore would be just fine.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fabulosa

    I agree about the comment he made about Fidel Castro. Like it or not USA can't and won't mess around with Fidel. The only reason he's asked to apologize for what he said is because he is a Venezuelan. You know how many time I've heard USA citizens comment or making really bad comments about the PRESIDENT!!!! of the United States of America??!! The President! They even make fun of him in national television. OOOOHHHH!! But then it's ok to apply the freedom of speech law, right? Hipocritas!!! UUHOHH!! I'm sorry, did I write that in spanish?? I'm sorry!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fureyous

      You are so right!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. craig

    So he 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 while you can.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • legaleze


      April 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      Craig- You are a moron, Ozzie works for a private organization with their own code of conduct and if they feel he said something wrong that is going to hurt the franchise they have every right to do with him as they please. How about you go to work tomorrow and tell everyone how much you love Hitler and see how fast your employment situation is going to change.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. I R

    WHY is it when someone says something wrong, ignorant or just play mean people invoke the the right of freedom of speech???
    What it is just a coward hiding behind it!!!
    The rest of us has the freedom of speech to call it like it is.
    It has nothing to do whith losing ones right, there is still right and wrong. Don't go on calling the right of speech if you can stand the heat when it's wrong
    If you act, talk like a moron, you will be called a MORON!!
    More people should be accountable for their speech and actions, then perhaps some would THINK before they speak or act dumb!
    No consequences?, why change?, no accountability, why change?

    That's why decency is so hard to find on some people these days.
    Until Guillen GETS IT, he will be the same walking septic tank!!!

    Inquisition?????...read some history !!!.............had nothing to do with talking!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sbp

    jpw2012: maybe you should learn what the First Amendment means before sounding like a blithering idiot complaining about political correctness.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mikeydmd

    Ridiculous! People are too sensitive!!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Locker

    This is utterly ridiculous. It's an opinion. How can you suspend someone from playing baseball because you don't like their opinion? ACLU come help this dude.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • SomeGuy

      Because his employer felt that it was conduct detrimental to the team. He is paid to manage the team but he is also paid as a representative of the team. The government didn't suspend him, his employer did and his employer has every right to do that.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • marcus

      For those of us who lived thru the Castro era and all the fears and worry that went along with that, I have to say that apparently the coach has crap for brains. Miami is full of Cubans who risked their lives to get away from the futility of Castro's rule. I imagine there will be far more ramifications than he has any idea. He better not come around my neighborhood in Miami. I have a few neighbors who would like to have a word of prayer with him!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • FDaniel

      I totally agree. Come on MLB! He can have an opinion, outside of basesball. That is part of his heritage. Why does he have to fully assimilate and have the same views as others, to be a good productive member of our society. This is ridiculous and sad, that a person has to feel being politically correct at all times, otherwise they may loose their livelihood. I am African-Ameircan, incase anyone is wondering.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jellybean7611

      @Locker: You're 100% correct. I don't understand why baseball got involved here. This is between Ozzie and the Latin community he offended (betrayed is a bit strong, this was after all his OPINION). He already apologized to the Cubans in the organization and to the Cuban community in Miami. He's pledged to make it right...now get off his back and let it go. I'm not an "Ozzie fan" but this is completely ridiculous...

      April 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ~(_8(/) Doh!

    Ha Ha...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ram

    THIS IS BS!!!!!! How many public figures have spoken out that they want the "end of america" or they are with islam in a holy war against the US. And this man speaks about Fidel?? The frail, dying, doesn't even matter Fidel??

    As a cubs fan I never liked ozzie, but this is WHY out of hand, what about our first amendment right???

    April 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      ram – please go and read the first amendment. Freedom of speech does not protect an individual from actions taken by their employer. Freedom of speech only says that the government cannot arrest you for speaking.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church of Suicidal

      Your first amendment right to free speech means the government will not imprison / punish you for what you say (obscenity and fire- in-a-theatre situations excepted). Your boss can still do whatever he / she likes when you open your mouth imprudently. Ask Hank Williams Jr.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    What happened to freedom of speech. Because he said something most people disagree with he is suspended from his job? What is that all about?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      I agree that he shouldn't have been suspended, but the First Amendment only protects you from prosecution. You can still be fired, suspended, kicked out of a club, etc.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lehighvalleyspirituality

    If George Zimmerman had been caught on tape saying he respected Fidel Castro, he would have been arrested the same day.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gunsmoke Jackson

      Seriously? This is about Ozzie Guillen.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. julius

    Cuban people caming to the shore of the United States looking for freedom of speach, religion, and press and look what they doing to miami they are dictatorship no one there can say anything about castro in public because you going to get hanger at least in the poeple in cuba live in happiness by the way they live but those in miami they all communist is time to wake up USA

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

      Dude...your English sucks.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • rose

      dear julius,

      you have no idea what your talking about. ozzie needs to respect the community he works in, and in this case it's a community that contains the largest cuban population in the US. he has every right to think what he wants, but he should not verbalize his praise for a dictator who is a murderer, a theif, has destoryed a counrty, ripped families apart, starved his people, etc. People in miami are communists and people in Cuba are happy. here is a suggestion: go live in Cuba, like a Cuban and let's talk a year from now and see how you feel...perhaps you won't be so happy. like ozzie, you need to think before you open your mouth.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      exactly lol

      April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church of Suicidal

      Periods. Learn them. Love them. Use them.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
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