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. dave meccariello

    its amazing to me, how this man basically had his opinions and remarks "censored"... castro and the communists would be proud and lenin and stalin must me laughing in their graves at how america, "the land of the free" has become more like "russia" than russia ever was........... from secret prisons, to taking ones job away if he speaks with unpopularity. where is the aclu outrage?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeeper45

    Freedom of speech means freedom from govt stopping your speech or punishing you for it. It says nothing about what private companies or other people can't do after you've spoken.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BillyBob117

    This is clearly not a case of freedom of speach--I bet somewhere in his contract, what he did was a no no and subject to punishment by the team's owner--he has always had a big foul mouth--Miami will be very sorry that they hired a second rater--

    April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PatG


    I'm not Cuban, but I know why all Cubans living in Florida have fled to America. Most have had parents, brothers and sisters lost to a firing squad. A Cuban ESPN journalist said that his parents fled Cuba after having been beaten with chains by the police. This is not about Communism. It's about living under a despotic ruler who has no respect for human life.

    And to others who have written about free speech. Ozzie Guillen is not going to jail because of his opinions. That's how we operate in a free society. However, everyone still has to deal with the consequences of saying stupid, insensitive things.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. denman838

    If the Latin / Cuban community in Miami should be upset about anything, it's the persecution of Ozzie Guillen and the denial of his First Amendment right to free speech and expression. Excuse me, people, this is AMERICA. You CAN freely state your positions and opinions, regardless of how popular they may or may not be. While it probably was a stupid and insensitive thing for him to say, it's not something for which he should be suspended. SHAME ON YOU, MIAMI!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chut Pata

    This is stupid. Why is the political opinion of a sportsman matters? Would he face suspension if he said he did not believe in God, or that Mona Lisa was ugly, or that evolution is a scientific fact? This is stupid journalism aimed at destroying people's life. A person should be fired based on his opinions on his job only. If he was fired for bringing the team down by his remarks, I would understand, not his remarks on politics, religion, art, science etc.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gunsmoke Jackson

    So, punish a guy for liking another guy (Castro) by in turn acting like the other guy (oppression).

    That sounds about American enough...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wrong

    While I don't agree with Guillen's original statement, he should have the right to express his own opinion. What is wrong with this place lately? People disrespect not only Obama (their right), but show lack of respect for the office of the president (still their right, but in bad taste). We live with that, but now someone is punished for an allegedly positive comment about a foreign dictator. What has happened to the 1st Ammendment?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. legaleze

    Cuban-Americans organized the 1980 Mariel boatlift when Castro permitted anyone who so desired to leave Cuba. Prisoners and the mentally ill were released and put on boats. Only after 125,000 illegal immigrants arrived in Florida was boatlift was ended by mutual agreement between the two governments. You might ask yourself why they were allowed to stay. Guillen is a US citizen and can voice legally his opinion. If you disagree you are not a patriot.

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

    ??? May be the headline should be " Americans no longer have the Right to Freedom of Speech"!!

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

      I agee - this is absurd! I detest Castro in part because of his views on freedom of speech. We believe in freedom of speech! We are becoming what we despise through fear of "offending" someone.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • sortakinda

      You have read the minds and articulated the thoughts of millions of Americans.

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

      Hear Hear! Remember Joe McCarthy & J Edgar Hoover and the American persecution of the Communists? Last time I checked, we still had freedom of speech and political beliefs!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan R

      For the last time, freedom of speech means the government can't persecute you or prosecute you for your opinions. It means you have the right to be a nazi and hold nazi parades. It doesn't mean your empolyer can't fire you for being a Nazi. The government has no right to do or say anything about people loving Castro, but employers can fire people for it if it's bad for business. Political correctness may be running amok, with entertainment figures fired mope than in the past, but true freedom of speech is stronger than ever. Try speaking against the goverment in many countries and you might be arrested or be-headed. I say appreciate America for what it is – the greatest country on earth. And don't look for flaws that aren't there.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. marcusrod

    ‎5 games for Guillen, and cuban disadents are protesting??? That's total BS! So what if he "loves" Castro (which was a statement taken completly out of context)??? Is there really nothing better for the Miami Cubans to protest about? Like the state of our health care (which is free in Cuba), the state of our economy (last time I checked they didn't have many starving people in Cuba). He's a baseball coach, not a State senator.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dan

    Marlins need to lighten up. It's not like he slandered the US. Good Grief...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Machipongo John

    Too bad that Ozzie has to suck up to the Fascist Cuban refugees in Florida.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mark H

    What ever happened to free speech?
    The Marlins are catering to the Cuban population in Florida. If he had said it while being a part of, say the White Sox, there would be no issue. And anyway, he said that he respected Castro because he has managed to avoid assassination for so many decades. Not that he loved what he has done for his country or how he leads, I keep telling my kid: "Think before you speak" There is no free speech anymore.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. eb

    suspended over this? honestly, so many things you hear about athletes doing that are far worse and don't rate a suspension. this is ridiculous

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