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. Freedom

    Are the Marlins trying to copy Fidel by suspending this guy? He made a stupid and harmless comment. Freedom is better served by exposing stupidity, not suppressing it.

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

    What happened to freedom of speech? Are we living in the US or Cuba? I am not a fan of Castro, but to punish a man who was simply expressing his opinion on Castro, we have become Castro's ourselves!

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

    What does free speech have to do with Baseball rules? He did nothing wrong, I admire Castro as well (even though I don't like him).

    April 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. David

    Sincere Apology / Explanation was probably necessary. Suspension was WAY out of line. Given the context in which he was speaking, any rational person knew Ozzie was making reference to only Castro's longetivity, and not his acts of despotism. This Cuban-American cry-babies need to grow some "man-parts" and get over it already.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marty

    Wow! Am I the only one getting the irony here? American is supposed to be the land of free speech – yet you can't voice an opinion without getting suspended from your job. How is Cuba worse than this?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ann Wilson

    What happened to freedom of speech? In many ways Castro was an improvement over Bautista, his predecessor.
    This guy isn't in politics so who cares what his personal opinions on Cuba are?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kayaker247

    It still amazes me that a large portion of the population confuses "free speech" with comments deemed offensive or inappropriate by an employer. It's a simple concept. If you can't understand it, you need to educate yourself so you don't sound like a uneducated fool. What he said was wrong and he should apologize. A group that pays his salary through the purchase of tickets and merchandise were deeply offended. That said, I believe his appology and think his punishment was appropriate.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Please try to understand this: If freedom of speech meant what some of you THINK it does, there would be no such thing as verbal assault, discrimination, harassment, slander. All of those crimes would be protected under "Freedom of Speech"... Do you get it now? You CANNOT walk around saying whatever you want, without some sort of consequence. He is not being thrown in prison is he? In Cuba you don't get suspended 5 games; you go to prison.

      I would like to see someone say they "love" the person you most despise, and see how you would react to them.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Will

    I am Cuban-American, born in Miami. I used to be surprised by people's lack of compassion but it doesn't get to me anymore. Most of you don't even know your own country's history, how are you going to know about events that took place in Cuba over fifty years ago. It would be a good idea however to read up on a subject before you have such strong opinions. No one would question Jews for being upset if someone came out in support of Hitler would they? And don't say they are different because both have killed innocent people and torn families apart. To Cubans who lost their businesses, land , customs, Fidel Castro is worse than Hitler. Have respect for others if you expect them to respect you, America. I don't want him fired, but he did make a huge mistake.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rafael

      I am Cuban-American too Will, and I can honestly say you have been brainwashed by your parents and perhaps living in Miami for too long listening to right wing Cuban talk radio since you were old enough to sit in the back seat of you parents car. I know it all to well. You need to get out in the world and explore some alternative reality, get out from the shadow of your parents and open your minds potential. I know it all too well, because I grew up that way, I still hear the endless hate-filled propaganda programs on TV with those senile old man. Some of which helped bring Castro to power. I even made the mistake of voting for Bush twice because I still believed all that garbage.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bdubs

    Are you kidding me???

    How can a team suspend someone for expressing an opinion, particularly one outside of baseball. This is the kind of thing that happens in totalitarian dictatorships... like Cuba

    April 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dino


    April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Edgardo

    I long for freedom of speech. I guess is just another dream of democracy. Looks good on paper, let's put it on the bill of rights.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AlumofUf

    What happened to freedom of speech???
    I don't think he should be suspended at all!!
    Cubans in Miami are too sensitive, thank God I don't live there anymore!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kit

    What do people not understand. Though he may have a freedom of speech, that freedom is from government reprisal against him not his employer or individuals. As most of us know you can't say anything just anywhere and get away with it. He is an employee whose employer relies on the good will of people to whom Castro is a subject to be hated. So whether you agree with him or not, his employer must take actions to show their customers they do not share his opinion nor do they accept it. Personally I don't think he said anything too bad even though I do not like Castro at all. But it is their choice and his for staying with that team.

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

      I agree with you, BUT, if I say I hate broccoli on my own time, and my boss, who happens to love it, suspends me, does that mean I can't do anything about it?? I'd quit and then SUEEEE!! The good ol' American way.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. njreb1863

    "America's pastime" should be run by Americans.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert

    There is NO reason to apologize for speaking your mind, ESPECIALLY when you aren't saying something offensive. This is horrible.

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