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. spence

    Jesus Christ! What the hell happened to the right to your opinion? Castro–love him or hate him, why should anyone need a freaking press conference to "explain" themselves? These days you cannot evidently.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. K Walsh

    Absolutely asinine for him to be suspended. What he said was an opinion.
    I have the utmost respect for what he said and personally I believe that Fidel Castro triumphed over the USA successive governments that tried to silence him. One little man, the David over the Goliath.

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

    First of all, people, stop talking about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is between people and government, not people and their employers. Baseball is a private business and can define behavioral standards for their employees. Second, the Marlins are simply bowing to their overwhelmingly anti-Castro Cuban clientele – again, a strictly business decision of a private business. They have every right to do so.

    All that aside, yes it is ridiculous.

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

    A bleeding communist, I am sure he will find some support here in what otherwise WE Cubans call the Castro News Network. Freedom of Speech and boycotts only applies to liberals and liberal interests, otherwise they cry foul and defend.

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

      You buddy need to take the fight to cuba and not cut and run. otherwise keep your struggles to yourself. Cubans weren't in the streets protesting for civil rights in the 60' s. Get outta here

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

      Go to cuban and take the fight to castro, hand to hand combat. Stop fighting you wars from this country. Stop cutting and running and take it to em, you cubans didnt stand next to black when there were injustices being done, you cubans didnt hit the streets in support of civil right. Get the hell outta here and go fight for you country in cuba. this is THE UNITED STATES.

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

      Stop whining, get off yer *ss and do something about your home country then. Jeez, all you freakin' victims are the same. Whine your *ss off but don't do anything concrete about it.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lmd

    I don't agree with his comments, but this he is allowed his opinion as stupid as it is. Castro is a failed dictator.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Carlos Gonzalez

    By suspending Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins are taken his right to free speech just like Fidel does to Cubans.

    We have to respect his rights.

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

    The truth is always an absolute defense in addition to freedom of speech... even if he would have offended some Cubans.... "respect" did not mean admiration (in the context used). Castro has outlived how many U.S. Presidents? 10? Please folks, i.e., Cubans, let's get over it... and I'm Havana-born...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ABSKEITA

    Boy O Boy. We have people calling the president of the U S of A STUPID, and the get praises, but saying you admire or love someone some thugs hate get you in hot water. ONLY IN AMERICA! I can say.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank

    This guy is on his hands and knees begging for forgiveness for expressing his opinion. This strikes me as a form of oppression committed by the very community that is supposedly against such means of intimidation. Isn't free speech the very thing Castro doesn't allow? Yes, I realize that in Cuba he would have been jailed for expressing an opposing point of view but the standards of free speech Cuban Americans need to be cognizant of are not those in Cuba but those in their adopted land.

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

    Bud Selig is a hypocritical joke. Everyday blatant racism is perpetrated by a bunch of yabos "honoring" us in Cleveland and Atlanta, yet Sleig states, ""I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve." Where is the respect for us as American Indians? What a load of rubbish. I'm no fan of Castro but give us a break. Suspend Selig and do us all a favor.

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

      First of all, you're asking Bud to suspend himself (?)..... Don't even know what that's all about.
      Second, it's funny how there is no outcry of racism when the Indians and Braves suck! (You must be an NFL fan, so I the Washington Redskins is OK for you, huh?)

      April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cloverclan

    private company or not there is a 1st amendmant and i know you all gonna say it protects you from the government not private business well then i say as of tommarrow morning every one of my 1300 enployees need to let me know who they are voting for for president and if it aint who i vote for then your ass is fired. oh and by the wayy all of you idiots that think justin biber is it will be taken out and hung. that is what we are saying if you do or say anything that upsets even one person we are going to ruin your liflyhood and make sure the whole world hates you.

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

      The difference is that the Marlins would not have suspended him for just having that belief ... that is not detrimental to the business. What is detrimental to the business is saying it in public in front of your customers.

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

      I hope some of your 1300 employees will take pity on you and teach you proper spelling and grammar.

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

      I agree 100 percent. What happened to freedom of speech? we can't say anything that would offend muslums or any others etc.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. greg

    What happened to freedom of speech? If he wants to respect Castro, let him.

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

      While I do basically agree with you, this guy should have been smart enough to know that his comments would inflame the local community which buys the Marlins tickets. Why pick a fight when you do not have to especially the people who pay your salary.

      To be honest, I think Castro is one you know what. But how many dictators have stayed in power continously since 1957? How many have survived assaignation attempts by the CIA and other groups? You do not have to like Castro to respect him. While I can say those things, I don't have to depend on the locals to pay my bills. This manager does.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brandon

    This is so stupid. He shouldn't be sorry, and shouldn't have apologized.. In fact – I think much less of him now, not because of what he said; but how he cowered down when THE MAN told him he was wrong..

    April 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Salvador

    I am pretty sure it did not offend the latin community, it may have offended the cuban-americans, but not the whole latinos.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Ramos

      To be honest – you are right. I have been in Miami and South Florida and even lived there. Most Latinos do not care who is in power in Cuba. And this includes 3rd generation Cuban Americans. The vocal ones are the olders who came over from Cuba and the generation that followed them. They are extremely vocal and all Florida politicians are wary of them.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Eric

    When did having an opinion in the United States become such an issue? He did not make a racist statement? I don't personally like Castro but people have a right to an opinion!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • TiredODaCrap

      It's an election year....EVERYTHING is racist!

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

      Not in Miami you don't. Personally, I would not be one to express that kind of assinine opinion about a mass murderer in Miami where the vast majority of citizens have a family member who has been incarcerated or executed by the Castro regime for the mere crime of political dissidence.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
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