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. DCBlackman

    Since when is it wrong to speak your mind, regardless of who it offends, Cubans in Miami think they run that city,
    check your history the people put Castro in power before Castro the poor were peasants working the land for the wealthy oligarchy, Castro and Che changed all that. Long live Castro

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

      Yo are an idiot!!!! Castro has killed hundreds and thousands of innocent people.

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

      It isn't wrong to speak your mind. However, as a public representative of his employer, his employer has a right to fire him (or suspend him) for insulting or alienating its customers. That's what people don't get. Your employer doesn't have to employ you. You have an agreement, you help me and I will pay you ... that's it. You have the right to quit and they have the right to fire you when it is no longer a beneficial relationship.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NightCelt

    It's scary – what appears to be happening to free speech lately in this country.

    I don't support his remarks by any means and they certainly illustrate a lack of sufficient historical knowledge but still don't get why he's suspended. Isn't this still the US of A?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mean C

    YOU CAN'T EXPRESS YOUR OPINION. SCREW...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    So he spoke his mind and now he's being punished for it? Go Team America!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jacknyd

    So much for freedom of speech, America is in the toilet.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeeper45

    Where were all these "Freedom of speech" people when Rush said the awful things he said and lost sponsors?? Yeah, that's what I thought.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Abu Yaseen

    America and "freedom of speech" nonsense at its best. The best form of deception is to mix a little good with bad. There is no democracy or freedom of speech in this country. You say anything against the rich, famous, powerful etc., you are screwed. This is why filthy infedels are taking their best shots at cursing, lying and hating on Islam and Muslims, all under freedom of expression and speech. But no worries, a very paniful torment is waiting for them.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jim

    This guy's a bonehead. He's been making pro-Castro and pro-Chavez statements for the last 7 years. He is unapologetic about his socialist beliefs. Unlike in Cuba or his home country of Venezuela, he won't be thrown in jail or murdered by the government for his opinions, however that does not mean he won't face consequences for his words. Free speech in America does not mean you have an implict freedom from consequences, it just means the government will not abridge your civil rights.

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

      I could not agree more Jim! Three quraters of the foks on these pst are brain dead.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jose Perez

    OMG there is a great deal of people that have no brains. Listen up, Fidel Castro is the equibilant of Cubas Hitler. He has killed thousands of Cubans in firing squads for wanting to be free. Ozzie Guilen is a complete moran. Know your audience. It would be good if the sponsors pull out and then they will fire his sorry ass. I am so glad he left Chicago.

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

      dude, that happens in every civil war, war is war, nothing but death. Check out OUR own civil war that freed us from the british. Firing squads too. remember bernadit arnold?? lol amongst others

      April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nick D

    Wow. It's crazy how we've become a country that censors ourselves.
    Next your going to tell me it's inappropriate for a public figure to criticize Israel.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • tet1953

      *gasp* hush yo' mouth

      April 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Patricia Shapiro

    Are we living in the land of Big Brother? This man simply said what he was thinking. He did not "swear allegiance" to Castro or anything even close to that. He has a right to his opinion and should not be made to feel he has to apologize.

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

      public opinion was against him though; this was as a result of their reaction. if the fans stop coming, everyone (connected to the franchise) loses.

      i certainly have things i can't say publicly because they might affect my employment. don't most people?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GeorgeBos95

    What kind of crap is this for the Marlins to stick their nose into his personal business.

    Marlins management is a bunch of tyrranical JERKS

    April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tet1953

    Suspended? Really? This is getting scary. You don't have to agree with what he said - I don't, although I understand what he meant - but we are supposed to be able to speak freely.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. please grow up

    Marlins, GROW UP!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeeper45

    Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences from the private sector. It only addresses what the government can do to you.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
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