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. ignoranceisbliss

    Omg stop harping about Freedom of Speech. Most of you that go around spewing "what about Freedom of Speech" have no sense of the amendment. Guillen is under contract by a private business who are the MARLINS. I bet half of you would go up to your boss and say "eff you" to the guy and wonder why you're fired on spot. I can go around saying anything I want to anyone UNLESS I am in uniform or at my place at work, because you are bound by ethical and moral standards.

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

    Woa! We can argue back and forth all day about opinions... but opinions vary. I want to know, what happened to FREEDOM OF SPEECH????

    April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC603


      It does NOT apply here. Freedom of speech doesn't give you the right to say whatever you want whenever you want. Your employer is well within their bounds to suspend or terminate if they think your words could be harmful to their image or business.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gregg

    Umm...didn't Ozzie actually also say "I love Fidel Castro" and not merely that he respects him? More of CNN's selective editing to skew the story? And we all know that CNN loves and respects Castro and every anti-American regime as well.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Spijder

    The fact that the quote offended anyone is proof that no one listens to entire sentences and that calling someone a phrase utilizing foul language (which was a stronger bit of obscenity in another article I read this morning, one that had to be completely *'d out) no longer infers insult.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jim

    What happen to the days when we were able to voice our opinions? We are creating a country where everyone has a new right. the right to never be offended. We are pathetic.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Vince A

    If Mr. Guillen respetcs Fidel Castro so much, maybe he should consider living in Cuba under Fidel Castro's rule.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ken845

    This is the United States of America where everyone has the right to free speech. It seems to me the Marlins' management are acting like dictators.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. alex

    ok, first Ozzie getting suspended IS SO NOT NEWS. Second, I thought this was America and free speech, you know how Cnn runs to that preacher events who burned the Quran and got Americans killed. If the Marlins have thoughts of grandeur for themselves now I understand why zimmerman thinks its ok to gun down a kid or why so many residents abandon their dogs, cats, snakes and other unwanted items in the everglades, cause its their right to be better than _____.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. edeveryday

    What the hell is going on in this country with people suppressing your right to free speech and then punishing you for speaking your mind? Who the hell do they think they are? Get off people's backs and leave them alone for f–k sake! What country do you think we are living in? Iran? North Korea? China?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • edeveryday

      So "freedom of speech" does not apply to private enterprise? O.K. fine, then I'm out o' here! That's the last time I give you all a piece of my mind! Good bye!

      April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. VegasRage

    Freedom of speech, not in the NBA apparently.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Freedom to suspend also...it's private enterprise my friend. Your company can fire you for doing email.

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

      Apparently you know nothing about freedom of speech ... or that the Marlins are a baseball team and not an NBA team.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shelle

    Suspending a guy for voicing his opinion? Oppressing his right to freedom of speech? Sounds like something Castro would do. Ooooh, the irony.

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

      Well said!

      April 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Freedom of speech has to do with government supression, not a private company or enterprise. MLB has the right to supsend or fire him if they wish. They also have the right to tell him what to say or not to say while wearing the uniform or representing them.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC603

      Your right to freedom of speech applies to the US government... The government can't repress your speech against them. Your employer, however, can, especially if they think it is detrimental to their business.

      This is high school civics; I can't believe how many people here are citing free speech when it doesn't apply AT ALL.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • SomeGuy

      His employer suspended him for insulting a large segment of their customer base, cuban americans .... not for expressing an opinion or belief. He is a public representative of his employer, the Marlins. This isn't about freedom of speech. This was conduct detrimental to his employer and every employer has a right to suspend or terminate an employee for behavior that is not in the best interest of the employer. If you owned a business and you had an employee who did something to insult or alienate your customers, you would probably fire him too ... not sit there and say, oh well, he has a right to say what he wants.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shelle

      No, he did not insult a large segment of their customer base. He made a statement about his political beliefs which a large segment found offensive. Do you think that a republican boss should fire his democrat employee because he is offended by the democrat agenda? I certainly don't. I don't have to agree with the man or even believe he has much intelligence to think that a suspension was unwarranted and inappropriate. If the Marlins disagree with his comments, they can put out a statement saying so. If I were the manager, that is exactly what I would do.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Trebek

    Miami, New Orleans, Washington D.C. Top 3 cities containing the worst people America has to offer!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. james


    April 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SAI

    We take pride in being the bastion of freedom in thought, word and deed – and we then have strong special interest groups which muffle free speech selectively. Thus, a distinguished journalist in her 80's is muflled and disgraced for voicing one opinion – while others who voice more virulent and violent opinions of our current 'hate' objects are applauded; it is OK to disparage and besmirch Hindus and Muslims, Hispanics, Palestinians, Iranians and other such groups – but anything perceived to be hurtful or insulting to our sacred groups will result in vicious and violent over-reaction. Are we being the truly freedom-loving people we pretend we are?

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

      Who is "we". This is something the Marlins did, not "we".

      April 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. james

    boycott marlins

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