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. A Man Cooks

    I guess he didn't have enough money to buy Freedom of Speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Samuel

    Castro is a survivor, you gotta give him that. Has he been a good leader for Cuba? Hardly. Hell, Even Che Guevara came to realize that Castro's attachment to the USSR was every bit as bad as Batista's with the USA. Give the Marlin's manager a break, however; the time is coming when the US and Cuba will once again normalize relations (should have happened years ago), probably after Fidel and Raul are gone. Hopefully the US will not try to make Cuba its doormat again at that time...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jeroam2

    Speaking our Minds vs Making Money... Two spectacularly American passions, squaring off, toe to toe. We should keep an eye on this one folks. But let's not forget;The fact that we are having this debate at all is precicely what makes us great.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Correct Amundo

    its not about Rights, or freedom of speech. the Miami community will decide with their dollars if the Marlins hang on to this guy.

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

      Ima go to the games even more now. cubans need to get over castro. This is the USA

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

      The Miami commnity never supported the Marlins before, what make you think they're going to start NOW?
      Just look at their attendence.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bongo bozzy

    Wow. They suspend Ozzie for his political comment, and then the Marlin organization releases a statement saying that Castro was a brutal dictator. Maybe the Marlin's should forfeit their next 5 games for that statement. Besides, call Castro what you want, but he did break up the mobs and a class system in Cuba that lined the pockets of a few families at the expense of the rest of the country.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Surf4Days

    I don't understand it either. The suspension or the apology. He didn't say he liked the fact that Castro was in power, he didn't say he liked Cuba's politics, he just said he respected the fact that he has survived so long.

    Over-reactionary BS on the Marlins side, and weak kowtowing on his part.

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

      He said that he respected the fact that the S O B has stayed alive this long.
      That's a huge difference than saying he respected the guy.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brad

    This suspension says more about our feelings about Castro than it does our feelings about Guillen.

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

      I have to agree with you there, Brad.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    It's a shame this guy gets hammered for expressing his opinion. What type of country are we turning into?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim Orens

    there is no such thing as freedom of speech when you work for an organization, but that being said, I am not sure why he was suspended for saying what he said. Yes, it might reflect badly on the Marlins, but if there is no stipulation of this in his contract or organizational papers, strange.

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

    Flavored Duct Tape is now being offered at Wal Mart to be used by everyone who has a thought that they'd otherwise like to express in America. WE ARE OZZIE GUILLEN!!

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

      no, we are not.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC603

      Freedom of speech applies to your speech against the government; not in general. If your employer says you say something that isn't good for business, they certainly are within their bounds to suspend or terminate you.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      If Ozzie loves and respects Castro so much why doesn't jump in the ocena and swim to Cuba and stay there.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    I guess he left all his balls at the park. So much for cowtowing to the right wing nuts in Miami.

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

    As Americans, our government keeps us ignorant and stupid about Cuba. Luckily all we have to do is go to Mexico or Canada to fly there. It's a beautiful country with people that really like Americans and just as we were brainwashed about Russia, we have been brainwashed about Cuba. Most Americans will never know because they are terrified of some stupid Communist stigma

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

      I whole heartedly agree with you. I was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and being that it wasn't the best part of Cuba (for its arid dryness and desert like climate) it was still a beautiful country. I have met Cubans from that country and yes they are very nice people. I am thankful for not being brainwashed. I fully encourage anyone curious enough to really sit down give some thought to all of this. Nonetheless, great post!!!

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

      So true; all these hypocrites claim Cubans have no free speech or rights...then they want Ozzie's head on a platter. How ridiculous!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • pico

      "The Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games" = democracy or hypocrisy
      and still brainwatch against Muslim ..and YES i respect Castro and the Cuban. the real ones not the Miami version of fake Cuban.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    As many others have pointed out, what the heck does this have to do with baseball?? He has nothing to apologize for IMHO

    April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jorge

    WOW!!! I must agree with my fellow responders. Guillen did nothing wrong! What organization would punish a member for voicing out their freedom of speech? Why must we force everyone in this world to only see our views and principles and not others? Fidel Castro has been in charge for a very long time, he wasn't just put in that position at birth. He rebelled and won. Gee I distinctly remember 13 colonies rebelling against a throne and what came out of that was the USA. What kind of nation have we turned ourselves into these days that a person cannot voice his or her opinion without being punished?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. russ

    baseball been very very bad to Ozzie

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