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. denman838

    And the fact of the matter is – Castro is STILL ALIVE, he's survived a half-dozen US Presidents, numerous attempts on his life, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the decline of world Socialism. He may be a monster and guilty of brutal oppression and murder of his own people, but he IS one tough son of a gun! Ozzie spoke the truth.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Illeagle-j1

    Think what you will of Fidel, but he has kept Cuba on track for over 50 years, we may think that it is the wrong track, but what we believe means nothing in the scheme of things. To punish this poor Nibish, for voicing an opinion is WRONG, This is America, people have a right to voice their opinions with out fear of retribution, under the articles of the Declaration of Independence. Until, the Ultra Conservative Facist Religionist manage to change that, freedom of speech is the law of the land. Selig, you are wrong, wrong, specially since this gentleman, actually has the intelligence to utter a coherent sentence, for an jock, that is not the norm.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    Most US Presidents have killed WAY more people than Castro did.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel H

    I LOVE FIDEL CASTRO, I don't know him, but because he has the power to have someone fired here in the United States for saying his name and persona in a positive way; one must think he is a very powerful wizard indeed. I hope I don't get fired now!! :'( oh wait, I have no job because the economy sucks

    April 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    So much for Free Speech in America.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim_34

    Five games for freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary Jane

    Where the heck is Ozzie's freedom of speech? If your offended by what he said then go to counseling and talk to someone. I mean that's how far this country has fallen now you have to appease everyone all the time. Scr*w that if it's white call it white and if it's not than it's not. Maybe he likes Castro so what that's his right to like whoever he likes. If you don't agree with that then that's your problem but the guy doesn't deserve to lose his job over it. Wow we are becoming the very thing we were so against during the Cold War. In fact I think we're already there thanks to this Socialist we have running the show now

    April 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Juan bimba

    You can say hwat you thnk but there is a caveat.

    1 You are the manager of a team where most of your fans were descendants or direct Cuban exiles.
    2. You are the manager of a team and accordingly you should reserve your personal opinons to yourself, especially if this could become in detriment of the team that pays your salary.
    3. You should not that political statements can get you in trouble espcially when yoy are paid to be the manager not a U.S spokesman.

    Jus saying.....

    April 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Su Lynn

    Yes, that's right! Let's prove that America is JUST LIKE CUBA – NO FREE SPEECH!!!!! If you don't like what people say – punish them! Gee! What a shame we can't throw him in jail or shoot him! If I had season tickets I would cancel them, not because of Ozzie, but the IDI0TS that run baseball!! If the boat people don't understand FREE SPEECH, they should float right back to Cuba! SHAME ON MIAMI, I hope the next Hurricane wipes it off the map!!!

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

    I don't get it ... Guillen called Castro an SOB; how can this be construed as support beyond recognizing the fact that Castro has ruled Cuba for 60 years? If Guillen had said he thought Castro's subjugation of the Cuban people was a good thing, then I'd say there's a beef. But he didn't!

    BTW, whatever happened to free speech? Kinda reminds me of the Repubs efforts to pass a law saying that employers could withhold medical benefits for any procedures they found "morally objectionable." Talk about a plutocracy! Sounds very similar to Casto's communist Cuba ...

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

    enough with the cuban struggle here, this is the UNITED STATES. sick of it. That's all the talk about in the local spanish channels. cubans are obsessed with castro. You're in the USA now

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


    April 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • eastcoast Mike

      ...and the Marlins have every right to fire him.

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

      Sure they do.
      Let them.

      Another organization will just snap him up...sad to say, but Cubans didn't fill the Marlin's stands before, and if the Marlins get rid of Ozzie, they won't then, either.
      They'll just make it hard for the LEGITIMATE fans to get there.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Common Sense

    You can tell everyone who brings up freedom of speech is a mental midget

    April 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • MACT

      So, Americans are mental midgets? I thought is was the Communists who prohibited free speech: are you saying that is the intelligent approach?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick D

      How does citing the 1st Amendment make you a mental midget?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom (a mental midget according to some)

      mental midget?! Excuse me, but freedom of speech is a fundamental right here in the U.S. and a critical part, IMHO, of maintaining liberty in any nation.

      And to quote from an 18th century Frenchman, Voltaire, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

      April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. joe

    Castro is a symbol of the limits of US power, this guy was suspended for speaking the truth, if what he was saying was obviously ridiculous it wouldn't have struck a nerve.

    Sadly the laws in the United States offer no protection against this sort of thing, freedom of speech does not apply to companies which means that in practice it doesn't really apply anywhere since almost everyone works for a company

    April 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LarryW

    Free Speech just went down the toilet.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Surf4Days

      oh, it's been swirling in the bowl for quite a while now.

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