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. sbp

    Mark: what happened to freedom of speech is you are too dumb to understand it. Did you read any prior posts?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BlackDynamite

    Suspending people for speaking their mind is gay

    April 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Miss P

    It might help to remember that he is also Venezuelan, and that Chavez is best buddies with Castro. The layers of politics in this are pretty thick... and in this country, unless it's hate speech- you can speak your mind.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Socrates

    Poor man, he believe he lives in a society where he has the right to give his opinion. I have been in Havana, Cuba a few times and I have friends who don't like Fidel and I have also friends who like him and guest what. They can say what ever they want and they will not loose anything. At first, an innocent Canadian like me, I was scared that the police can come and get us. One of my friend laughed and he said, do not worry, Hector is a policeman and he doesn't like Fidel either. Hector looked at me and he smiled. These funny communist Cubans, they think they can say whatever they want.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fred Deefender

    More nonsense in hyper-sensitive America. Immigrants are turning the US into a country of cowards who are afraid to express an opinion for fear of upsetting the "disenfranchised." Go back to your third world hell-holes if you can't accept American freedom of speech. Oh, and die on the way back so your homeland is also spared your sniveling nonsense.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. miamivic

    Some on this board would love to silence Ozzie's critics.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anomic Office Drone

    He didn't even say he respected Castro's politics, just that no one had successfully deposed him 60 years. What's wrong with that?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Wolf

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." – Voltaire. I strongly disapprove of Ozzie Guillen's comments, but this is a democracy...so I thought. Free speech is among the things that makes the U.S. different from Fidel Castro's Cuba. I find Guillen's utterances disturbing but MLB's response even more so.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. biff

    Too many hispanics in Florida now. That's why I moved. They are ruining everything.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • miamivic

      Wrong demographic. The Marlins just high tailed it out of Liberty City (black neighborhood) into Calle Ocho. Hint?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • miamivic

      I moved out of Miami cause there were drive bye shootings every weekend and helicopters circling overhead in North Miami (black-Haitian mixed) area.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose


      April 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. patiat

    Good grief. The CANF just goes on and on, clinging to the last vestiges of relevance...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • nosferatu

      He's just trying to divert attention from their g*d awful new uniforms, colors and logo.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Zabilde

    Totally BS. His comments had nothing to do with the Marlins. Any punishment is an assault on the freedom of speech. Had his comments been about the team I could see them taking issue. But his political opinions are just that, HIS OPINIONS about a political issue, which are the most protected form and topic of speech.

    Where is the ACLU? The team should be suspended for five games for his Punishment!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob117

      I bet it states very clearly in his contract that what he did is a no no--you really need to understand what freedom of speach is all about-

      April 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • SomeGuy

      No, this guy is a public representative of his employer, the Marlins. He made comments that were detrimental to his employer ... by insulting a large segment of his employer's customers. His employer has every right to fire him (or suspend him) for that. It isn't about the belief or opinion itself, it is about doing something that wasn't in the best interest of his employer.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      I don't see how this is justified. What next...someone says they thing Obama is doing a bad job and MLB suspends them? I don't agree with his comment but I feel it was an inappropriate suspension.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mahhn

    Castro may not be a saint, but he saved Cuba from the American mobs (and corrupt politicians) that were using it as their personal playground and brothel. They never went crazy with religion or wanted a big bomb. And they are more liberal than China -(three pages of rambling removed) And now that our coutnry legalized/endorses torture and murder,,,,, sigh,, is there anything good in the world,,,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • nosferatu

      "...they never wanted a big bomb..."

      Wow, I guess that whole episode in October of '62 never really happened?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. danieljsf

    Wow. We have truly becvme a country of self-righteous idiots. Susppended for no infraction at all, just an opinion that some people don't like. So much for freedom of speech.

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

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

    April 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. angel tur

    What would happen to the manager of the Atlanta Braves if he expressed admiration for the KKK or apartheid? What would happen to the manager of the New York Yankees if he expressed admiration for the Taliban and/or Ahmadinejad?
    Thats my question, thats what this is all about.

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

      No, it's not about things he never siad. It's about constantly policing people and punishing them for their words based on some one else's interpratation.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • nosferatu

      You know, if it's that terribly important to the Cuban ex-pats, let them get some guns and boats and invade. Stop freakin' whining or waiting for the U.S. to do your dirty work.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
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