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. cw

    Again, for the neophytes who don't understand... This is NOT a Freedom of Speech case!!! Please educate yourselves.

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

      Yes it is. You have the right to your opinion. If even others disagree. If you want to see what censorship leads to move to Iran or N. Korea.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Perhaps not, but it is ABOUT freedom of speech. Don't accuse others of being neophytes when you yourself are one.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • CitizenUSA

      Very much a Free Speech issue, but the Marlins don't want to wrap themselves in the Flag: they want to wrap themselves in the Dollar. As though Batista and the Sugar Industry had the "citizens" of Cuba in their hearts. to our shame we renegged on the Teller Amendment and made Cuba a protectorate.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Omar

    Regardless of what the right wing extremists in Miami think, Guillen did nothing wrong. I know it may be hard for some to swallow but there are ALOT of people, even in the United States, who admire Fidel. What is truly shameful is that the only opinion that the majority of people in the US have about Castro or Cuba is shaped by fringe right wing elements who openly support terrorism. People should do some research about who these "Cubans" really are.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Christine

    Wow... Ever heard of freedom of speech? Enough is enough!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J.C.

    This is a free country as long as you believe and speak with the lies and deception of U.S. politics and religion.. Voice anything else and and you are marginalized and looked at like some kind of anti-American nut...I know, I have lived with this for 50 years...

    April 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scott Wallace

    What's next? Suspend people for thinking bad things. Or jail them or execute them. A la Minority Report. This whole PC watch what you say crap is getting so out of hand. Grow a spine people and move on. We are turning in to the United States of the Offended. Worry about what you do and not everyone else and I bet this planet would be a whole lot better place to live.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scheer

    He has a lot of respect? Why doesn't he move to Cuba.

    Listen to William Levy on DWTS. He didn't know what a flippin' apple was until he came to this country...he came from less than nothing. Those poor people down there.

    I have zero respect for an animal like Castro.

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

      I'll type this slow so you can understand. He said he has repect for the fact that the S O B has stayed alive this long...as to say, he is surprised that no one has assasinated Castro yet.

      I am failrly sure that Levy cannot speak the best of English,either...and yeah, I'll get my news from DWTS anytime. Grow up.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • benigno

      go to cuba and then critisize please

      April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Aaron

    Uh... Freedom of Speech ring a bell?

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

      He has freedom of speech... He can say what he wants. Does not mean the private sector or the court of public opinion has to agree. Also, there are always consequences...

      April 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobby dove

    LAND OF THE FREE?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pico

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

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

    Ozzie Guillen's comments say more about South Florida's Cuban community than they say about Ozzie Guillen. What kind of people are these Floridians that they persecute Guillen for exercising his freedom of speech? Or more importantly, his freedom of thought?

    Let’s be very clear about who these people are: BATISTANS. South Florida's Cuban community is very much the old guard of pre-Castro Cuba. Those who benefitted from Batista’s brutal regime.

    Of course they hate Castro. And always will. Just as Dixie slave-owners hated those who changed the face of America after the Civil War.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • arpad

      My best friends family owned a bakery in Cuba. His father, uncles and older brothers supported Castro and then stopped when they realized what he was. He put 65 people inside, locked the doors and burned them alive. My friend escaped with his grandparents and grew up in spanish harlem. The only diff between Castro and Hitler/Stalin/Mao is the volume of victims. Imagine Ozzie had said I really respect Hitler. You think he would keep his job?

      April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rafael

      100% agree with you. I am saddened to say, that many of my people (I am Cuban Expat too), especially those over 50 crowd are as intolerant as they come. Anyone who disagrees with them gets labeled a communist/socialist among other things I would rather not mention here. Ironic how they are doing the same thing to this man that they accuse Castro of doing to Cuba for over 50 years.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrew

    To be perfectly honest, from someone who has lived in both countries, there is more censorship here than there is is Russia. Freedom of Speech has been slowly dying in the land of the free since the days of Edgar Hoover and getting progressively worse.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ChrkeePrde

    um... freedom of speech???

    April 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tex71

    Miami punishes an athlete for his political opinion?
    Sounds like something that would happen in the former Soviet Union.
    Or maybe in Cuba..?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Welcome to the USSA (United Soviet Society of A*ses).

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

    This is ridiculous!

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