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. Patriot

    Marlins club lost all my respect. I wish folks knew their history. Don't Americans think it's silly that we have ZERO relations with a small island nation 90 miles away from our borders. Think people, think.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      What a waste of time. Pure opinion is protected by free speech. Half of America is desensitized, and the other half is overly sensitive. Grow up and move on. Baseball players get paid too much, anyway.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. lofsjim

    The press release from the Florida (sic) Marlins should have read "While Ozzie is an employee of the Marlins and his opinion does not represent the Marlins, as a resident of the United States he does have the right of free speech. We feel our fan base, some who have come from a country where this is not allowed and live now in a country where they do have that right, would appreciate the right and extend that courtesy to Ozzie whether they agree or disagree. Where most companies in this country who are so afraid of being politically correct and losing some of their revenue stream, would put the almighty dollar ahead of everything else including free speech and either fire or suspend their employee we will move forward with more important things." Oh well.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      you aren't very up to date on american law....the 1st amendment prohibits the GOVERNMENT from passing any LAWS that might infringe upon a citizen's freedom of speech and expression....it has NOTHING to do with your employer unless your employer IS the gov't.....

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Matt1978

    This is simply the Marlins and MLB pandering to a group of people that line their pockets. I can remember when players refused to face the US flag during the national anthem or guys like Tim Thomas protesting the President – but, because its against the United States, its ok. Say something bad about anyone else anywhere in the world and well, you're told to shut up. What the heck is happening to this country?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      It's called good business, Matt. Obviously, you're not a golfer. Some people in this country are just flat-out dumb. Guillen is a prime example of a loudmouth drunk who you just wish would shut up. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT A FREEDOM OF SPEECH ISSUE! Some people need to learn the difference. Guillen is a moron and he hurt his employers' business interest. They have every right to suspend the man. It ain't political correctness, it's good business.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. Aezel

    What a bunch of feigned outrage nonsense. Oh now we suspend baseball managers for making an offhand political remark about some foreign leader? Go f*** yourself Miami.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Well Then

    All of you complaining about free speech go up to your boss right now and tell them how much you love Fidel Castro and tell all your clients how much you love Fidel Castro and see what happens to you?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Sailor101

      He never said he loved Castro, so what you are suggesting has no relavence. In fact he called him a SOB. And really if I told my employer that I loved Castro he would just shrug his shoulders and tell me to get back to work.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pedro

    wow, suspended, for what? Ossie get out of there fast,who own that team?,wow...

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Monkey Business

    You turds need to realize our Cuba policy is nonsense. You enmity is not relevant – you are neither special nor significant and when you die, only your fleas will mourn you ;-P

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. avoiceinmyhead

    If I said I respected Osama bin Laden, do you think I would get suspended from my government contract job?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama/Bush = Stooges, Hasta la Victoria Siempre

      The fact that you compare someone who willing slaughters thousands of people on behalf of a stone age ideology (Islam, which differs from Evangelism only in name and one prophet) - to a hero who had the "audacity" to claim Cuba's wealth on behalf of the Cuban people (as opposed to foreign multinational corporations) and used it to provide social services for the Cuban people (that supposedly first-world USA doesn't even have, and thus a higher life expectency) and eliminate fascist stooges who sought to turn Cuba into a corporate-run banana republic full of sweatshops again (all of whom thoroughly deserved their well-earned fate) - says more about you than it does about Castro or anyone else

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Sailor101

      It depends on what you respected him for. If it was being able to evade capture of death for so long I don't think anyone whould have a problem with that, if you respected him for being the person behind all of his terrorist acts then there would be a problem. You have to take into account the entire statement that was made, not just three or four words extracted out of that statement. Throughout history there have been countless examples where one has respect for their enemies, but that does not mean that the actions of the enemies are condoned.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. Capitalism = Economic Dictatorship of the Unscrupulous = Death to Working People

    It's funny how Cubans came here, under the guise of "wanting freedom" (unlike them dang commies and their gubberment hop-si-tals), but then deny Guillen his FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

    Yeah, the "Cubans" in Miami want freedom - the freedom to plunder Cuba's resources and crush anyone who opposes them, just like they did when Batista was in power.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      Hi, stupid, long-named poster. It isn't a freedom of speech issue. Why can't you understand this? Guillen's insanely dumb rhetoric is not protected speech, when it comes to his representation of a MLB franchise. His employers have the right to censure him. That includes the Marlins franchise and the MLB front office, also. In Cuba, if you speak out against Castro or support a foreign democracy through public speech, you get "disappeared." In this country, if you offend half of your fan base by speaking out in admiration of a brutal despot, you get slapped on the wrist. Don't EVEN compare the two.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. WDRussell

    That will teach Ozzie. In FL you are not allowed an opinion that does not match with what the fascist right thinks.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Sailor101

      Nothing was ever stated in the articule as to the political leanding of the owner of the Marlins. For all we know he could be a liberal. Why do you jump to that conclusion?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. april

    Jack your totally right!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Paul

    I don't like Fidel Castro or any Communist dictators, but Ozzie should be able to express any opinion he wants and if his employers feel it will hurt their brand they should have the right to fire him. You cannot express an unpopular opinion without expecting blowback. He is essentially an entertainer (as are all pro athletes and their coaches) and the public can vote with their wallets. I would fire him immediately, that is NOT a violation of his civil rights or his freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      @Paul: "I would fire him immediately, that is NOT a violation of his civil rights or his freedom of speech"

      Absolutely correct.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. Greenspam

    Is it even legal to suspend someone from a job for expressing his political views though?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. Marie R.

    Ok, Ozzie Guillen is an idiot, everyone knows this. He's said stupid, offensive stuff for years. What I would like to know is how exactly is this a violation of MLB rules and regs? Please show me where is says that a manager can't say something positive about a dictator Who cares anyway what the hell Ozzie Guillen says? He's a baseball manager not the Secretary of State for crying out loud. This is suspension is more stupid than what Ozzie said.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      @Marie R.: "This is suspension is more stupid than what Ozzie said."

      Common sense would dictate that when you damage the business interests of your employer by offending a large portion of your employer's clients/fans/customers/whatever, you remedy the issue. Your post was more stupid than Guillen's remarks, which were insanely stupid. Why don't people just get that this is a BUSINESS DECISION, nothing more. Go make some comments to the press about Chavez, Castro, or Hitler to the press while wearing your McDonald's uniform, Marie. See what happens when you show back up to work the next third shift.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. marty

    research the HR 347 Bill and realize that our freedoms are slowly being taken away

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
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