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. biff

    Cubans have the best coke but their women are soooo ugly!

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

    Omar clearly needs a history lesson. Ozzie is free to say whatever he wants, thats what makes this country so great, but when people get outraged or upset, don't complain because they have that right too! I love the crazy left that believes only they have the right to be outraged. Omar obviously praises communism, but i doubt he is willing to give up all his stuff to the state for a portion of it back in free cheese.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rep

    I'm kinda surprised folks are so puzzled by the public firestorm and his suspension. It must be a lack of empathy. Castro affects mostly the Cuban community (which is quite significant in Florida) so most Americans just don't know or care to know how they feel about it. Frankly I don't know much about that either, but I can empathize.


    Because if he'd said he "respected" Bin Laden for being able to keep going so long. What would the response be? Think about it. And if someone from another country said "what's the big deal?" to that, that would spark even further outrage. Guaranteed.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sublime

      But it's irrelevant. Yeah I see your point. 100%. BUT THE FIRST AMENDMENT PROTECTS FREE SPEECH. PERIOD. Obviously, there's exceptions for things like slander, and particularly hurtful things. But this was not intended to be offensive, nor would most people take it that way.

      All this being said, the Marlins are a private organization and can do what they want so the people saying this is illegal are extremely dumb. But he should not apologize, they can't make him do that and frankly he did nothing wrong.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ozzies face

    Apparently if you are in pro sports, it is in your contract that you have to talk to the media... so when they do, every person in that potential position is inevitably going to say something that sounds politically incorrect to someone, and therefore the person is suspended, let go, etc. Seriously people, sticks and stones break bones but words are words. People need to chill on this whole political correctness thing. And Ray Lewis should tackle anyone in the media who asks a dumb question or spins a question so there is no possible decent answer.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Goose

    Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie. YOU ROCK! Screw everyone you offended. If they cant respect you for you than F*%K them. AMERICA AMERICA AMERICA where we say what we want...this is NOT Cuba!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rachel

    All Ozzie said was that he "respected" Castro for being in power for so long. He has a point. Despite all the sanctions, embargos, etc., he's one of the few remaining communist powers. It wasn't as if he said I love Cuba and think America stinks. The Marlins over reacted on this one.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    What ever happened to FREE SPEECH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    Whether I agree or not is not the issue. Free Speech

    Shame on the ball club for suspending him.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sad But True

    "Fulgencio Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in seven years ... and he turned Democratic Cuba into a complete police state – destroying every individual liberty. Yet our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enabled Batista to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror. Administration spokesmen publicly praised Batista – hailed him as a staunch ally and a good friend – at a time when Batista was murdering thousands, destroying the last vestiges of freedom, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cuban people, and we failed to press for free elections."

    — October 6, 1960 Senator John F. Kennedy

    "I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country's policies during the Batista regime. I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear." ”

    — U.S. President John F. Kennedy, to Jean Daniel, October 24, 1963

    April 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bruce

    What? Cuba is still a problem? For a country that imports billions, maybe trillions of dollars of goods from mainland China, what would be wrong with bringing in sugar and cigars from our nearby neighbor?

    The hysteria over Cuba should stop.

    And what Guillen said was right. Who else has held on to power for so long? It doesn't matter whether you like Castro or not. You have to admire his ability to hang in there.

    Of course our own CIA had a lot to do with it by overthrowing Battista.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mully

    Wow. He has to apologize and gets penalized for speaking his opinion? And this country calls itself, "the land of the free?" Ha! This is ridiculous. And, he's right, by the way. Like it or not, Castro OBVIOUSLY has staying power. LOL

    April 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • w5cdt

      You always watch what you say about Castro. Particularly in S. Florida. This is a given. DUH.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      Castro 1 USA 0

      April 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Ramsey

      I agree! Why would he have to apologize? He did nothing wrong. I feel the same as he does on the matter, and I'm not sorry.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TheAlaskaCurmudgeon

    The Florida-based Cuban Mafia is every bit as oppressive and totalitarian as Castro. The Cubans I feel most sorry for are the ones caught in the middle between these two dictatorial forces. If they speak – or even think – for themselves, they get clobbered for it.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      Cuba has captured Miami. They win . We lose.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paulo

    freedom of speech!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Stephen

    Wow, I thought the U.S. wasn't supposed to be like North Korea or China - or Cuba. So, your employer can suspend or fire you because you say something, outside of the workplace, that's politically unpopular? Why didn't the Commissioner of Baseball say "you may not agree with him, but this is America and we have free speech." What a bunch of wimps - Major League Baseball AND the Marlins!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      Boycott the Marlins

      April 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • SomeGuy

      It isn't like North Korea or China. In those countries, the government can throw you in jail and take everything you have for saying something that they don't agree with. This is far different. You have an agreement with your employer ... that if you do this work then they will pay you. Both of you willingly entered into the agreement. They can fire you and you can quit. If you as their public representative says something publicly that hurts the employer, they have the right to end the relationship ... just as you have the right to end the relationship for any reason, including them not treating you fairly.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 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 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. aizen

    are you kidding me? they suspend a coach for his own opinion and freedom of speech? whatever happened to the USA????? this is sad and disgusting. anyone has the right to like who they want and praise who the want. i dont see people thrown in jail or suspended if they are satanists etc...this is a sheer proof of idiocy in the USA....

    April 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
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