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. Stop_Madness

    I will join others planning to boycott the Marlins for their un-American, Stalinist approach to freedom. In theory the Cubans who came to Miami decades ago were fleeing to the US to seek "freedom". And now, they are flexing their political muscle to squash the freedoms of everyone else. Don't put up with this. Disagree all you want, but don't try to tell anyone else what to think or say. Let's ship the Marlins and their Cuban friends off to Syria if they like that system so much!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. M Griffin

    Take away that little white ball from him. Then watch him self-destruct.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Torrent Daddy

    I'm going to echo the same thing that everyone else is saying, "So much for Free Speech in America!" 😦

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sailor101

    There is a difference between respect and supporting a person or regiem. Taking the entire remark in context he respected Castro for being able to stay alive for 60 years with lots of people trying to kill him. He did not say that he respected him for being a brutal dictator or for being the cause of so many murders or pain. People need to be intelligent enough to look at the entire statement, all they read was "I respect Castro" and then their brains turned off.
    He has nothing to apologize about and the Commish should overturn this right away.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Kimberly

      Well written. Agreed!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. SayWhat?

    This is America where we have Freedom of Speech, you know the 1st Amendment! Political correctness is getting ridiculous.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Derek

    Perhaps Ozzie should address his comments to these desperate Cubans fleeing life under Castro last week and see if they agree.
    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-773399

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nina

    I dont agree with a word of what he said, but I dont think he should be suspended for speaking his mind. He could use some sensitivity training though. He obviously knows very little about Castro.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Smuz

    Oh no, illegals are offended. Get over it. Is it 1962?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. sbp

    Hey, Jorge, I was talking about dopes like you. I know you think you are very deep, but you have no understanding of what the First Amendment means. How about this – go to your boss and call him a moron, then come back here and complain about how he violated your right to free speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. MiamiCarlos

    He's lucky he still has a job with the Marlins. His mouth should consult his brain next time before is starts a yappin.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mari

    Though his choice of "heroes" is suspect, we do have freedom of speech in this country. Shame on the Marlin's management! I also have to agree with Rachel. The hypocrisy is astounding in this case.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. SGT J

    What?!? I'm no fan of of Castro's but, I am a huge fan of the right to free speech. I cannot believe this team pandered to the Cubans and actually suspended this man for giving his opinion. Wow!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kimberly

    You might not agree with what he said, but in this country, he has the right to say it. It's called Freedom of Speech and I can not imagine that he is suspended for speaking his mind. Besides, I don't think he meant that he looks up to Castro, just that he respects the tenacity of a ruler that, no matter what, is still around. Not sure how the team has legal right to suspend him on these grounds.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. fahi

    I think it's outrageous that people come to this country because of violation of human rights or because of some dictatorial or oppressive regime. Their freedom have been oppressed so they flee to a democratic country like ours. My only problem is that when they come her they tend to do the same to others whenever they are empowered to do so. Why can't someone exercise their freedom of speech because their comments may be unpopular? Why would an organization suspend that person because they too are afraid of being bullied by the mass who may treat to bully or oppress them? This sounds like the migrators don't have an issue with "Castro's approach" in Cuba. They are just jealous or regret it was not THEM the ones in power to do the same things Castro was doing. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT IN THIS WORLD!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. Blahman

    This is just silly. They are suspending him because of an opinion? I don't see how his comment is even causing an uproar for that matter. He isn't supporting Castro with the quote, just that he is amazed he has lasted this long. Even the European Generals respected Napoleon as a great tactical General on the battlefield.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Jolgar

      No longer free speech America!!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Leopold

      He is a public figure and his opinion is heard. It was distressing to Cuban Americans. He talks about admiring Castro yet sits here and collects an enormous salary. Maybe he should go and teach baseball in Cuba and live in a one room room efficiency apartment that is 50 years old.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Jolgar

      Oh, one more... this kind of action is what Cuba would do for somebody speaking out. Moronic call all the way.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      They are not suspending him because of an opinion, stupid. They are suspending him because he can't stop offending half of the fan base of whatever team he manages. Bad publicity is worse than losing games, especially in Miami. Look at the Stan van Gundy situation with the Heat. Guillen is not just ignorant, he's flat-out dumb. He will end up talking his way out of the Marlins' managing job. What Guillen said about Castro is irresponsible and comparable to Marge Schott's commentary on Adolf Hitler.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      @Jolgar: "No longer free speech America"

      What? When will idiots like you learn the difference between protected speech against your government and offensive stupidity for which any public figure can be censured? The Marlins have every right to shut Guillen up with a suspension and it is the moral thing for them to do. Christ, some people are stupid. Every time someone gets suspended or fired because of something dum they spout to the press, the "freedom of speech" thing gets thrown out there. It ISN'T a free speech issue!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
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