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. musicfaninmo

    wow, I never respond to these things, but that Joe Strummer quote is awesome! My biggest problem is that they seemed to act quicker about this in BB than the NFL did about bounties, and that actually has something to do with sports!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Al Alvarez

    If I said that although I dislike Hitler, I admire his efficient extermination of his opposition, could I keep my job as head of the Guggenheim?

    April 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • w5cdt

      Yes...because you prefaced it in the proper way.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Frank A.

    Freedom of speech is a right to free speech in face of the government. Private parties don't have to tolerate free speech. For instance, you can't go to a McDonalds store, handle some leaflets advertising Burger King in the drive-through lane, and claim you are exerting free speech rights. Or enter a church and hand pro-atheism propaganda.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • yuri pelham

      Agreed government isn't involved. People are; and people can boycott the Marlins. But they won't . Evil wins. Truth loses.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rooster

    Send this jerk to Cuba first class and don't bring him back. That goes for any other jerk that wants to praise people like castro or their forced rule over people. If he likes the moron so much he needs to live there and not have his big high paying contract. Earn that kind of money under the jerk in cuba.........!!!!!!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • w5cdt

      In the same sentence he called Fidel an SOB. Did everyone miss that part?

      April 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BillDog

    Ozzie is a blithering idiot and has been known for his stupidity for some time. It is amazing that he has had success a s a big league manager......

    April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. godaddy

    Freedom of speech is fine ... but people can also get mad and boycott you for saying it. Suspending someone is a form of freedom of speech as well.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guillen

      If you follow your logic, shooting someone is also a form of freedom of speech....

      April 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Guillen

    Rest of the USA is getting tired of Miami cubans.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Charles Spencer King

    50 + years of failed US policy Elian Gonzalez and me are not surprised, are you? We;re the land of the free ( except to spend money in Cuba) and those brave enough to visit anyway. We do business and even give dictators "friendly neighbor trading status" but cite the less than 500 political prisoners i Cuba's jails, wile ignoring the many tens of thousands in China's ! 90 miles away Cubans suffer from our archaic big foot policies... and you wonder why Latinos don't trust the US ? Want an education? Look up Luis Posada Carriles and then tell me how noble we are.. Bah !

    April 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. charlie nguyen

    His Freedom of Speech is trampled!!! It's ironic the so-called Cuban political refugees persecuted him. And they say they are running from Cuba for their freedom of speech! These are not political refugees, they are economical opportunists. Shame on them!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Enthalpy

    I am no fan of Ozzie and Castro is a Tirrant! But give me a break here. He did not praise something particular like killing and it is not related to his sport. Can't we focus on real issues and real reform?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amy

    he was totally right! For 60 years no one on the island could kill Castro...interesting. Now when he is so old, they still don't know how to get rid of him...interesting. How come Arabs organised the Arab spring and cubans can not do anything about that old regime, and don't tell me that it is worse there. East Europeans got rid of communism 20 years ago, all tyrans are gone, and Castro is still in power. How come?

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

      Exactly. Cubans need to shut up or go fight. If you fight castro from the USA with words and boycotts, your clearly a coward. Go pick up arms and FIGHT and stop blaming everybody for your problems. Im sick of it.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      I think its about visas. They can come illegally and they green cards for that in a year, while other people have to wait for 10 years and they come legally!

      April 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      exactly!! not fair!! these ppl are not americans, they land on our shores and AUTOMATICALLY become citizens after filling out a few papers. That's cuz they are not black, lots of cubans are white lol and miami is little havana lol unfortunately

      April 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. max33333445555

    the SOB is alive after 60 years of people trying to kill him. that includes the US government. i think I agree with the comment about respecting his ability to stay alive. why the suspension?

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

      The Trayvon Martin case must be losing steam.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Edgar Hoopkank

    So much for freedom of speech. Think about this: people in the US might not be slaves in the sense we know but they seem to be slaves of money. Follow the money.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rachel

    The Marlins over reacted on this one.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. angryersmell

    Ozzie should not have been suspended, and the Cuban community in Florida should be ashamed for supporting the imposition of limits on his freedom of speech; something I'm sure they'd claim happens in Cuba under Castro all the time. Explain to us why he's wrong, or why he should be more sensitive, but don't applaud this, because it hurts us all.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Delif

      I like your approach...confuse them with logic! Well said.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • See

      Because you loose fans going to the game. Something they can't afford to have.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
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