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. Tom

    So, you're not allowed to have your own opinion or political views when you play professional baseball? Isn't the game referred to as America's Pastime? I'm not saying I agree with him, but I hardly think you can penalize him for having an opinion.

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

      So offending your paying fans is a good thing? He should have that written as part of the contract.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. respectfully

    But a Republican Senator from Iowa can call the US president "stupid' on Twitter and doesn't suspended from his games.
    Cmon people where is the respect in that?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. R

    land of free speech my ass.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Amy

    BTW what happened to free speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. See

    These stupid South Americans fail to understand that The Marlin is a BUSINESS to make money. Insulting a majority of baseball fans is not a smart thing to do. Go back to your Hugo Chaves in Venezuela. I would have fired you for the insult.

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

      how did he insulted anyone? I live in Miami and I do not feel insulted!

      April 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      That's what i say to the cubans, shut up or put up. Go fight your own war, wanting america to go fight their battles.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • M I Snow

      You don't know what you speak about... believe it or not the majority of Marlins fans that attend the games aren't even cuban...

      April 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. EdC

    Does Selig have a list of what political opinions are and are not allowed to be spoken by MLB personnel? The notion that Gullen should be suspended because his opinion offended part of the population is bizarre. Every poltical opinion will offend some part of the population.

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

      paying populations fans...

      April 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Miquel

    These are indeed sad times for our "free" country. The USA hasn't had freedom of speech for some time now in my opinion, and once people are afraid to speak for fear of reprisal and/or personal economic dissaster it's over for us all. It seems that we are almost to that point right now.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chad

    It's a free speech issue and I agree that his remarks weren't inflammatory. I think suspending him sends the wrong message about what you can and can't say.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. M I Snow

    RIDICULOUS!!! Makes me ashamed to live in South Florida... Just goes to show so much for the Cuban communities' sense of democratic ideals... Don't let MARCO RUBIO any where near the White House...

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

      agree in 100%

      April 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. stevem7

    Much, much, much, much too politically correct. The dumbest suspension in the history of MLB bar none.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Coop

    The Miami Marlins should be ashamed of themselves !
    Can't express an opinion, as a fully grown man, of respect for someone, anyone ?

    Ozzie Guillen plays and drinks and then plays and drinks day after day ?
    The Marlins are idiots. This boy is an alcoholic. That's the true story
    and what they should be most concerned about.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimJ

      You don't know what power the corrupt Cuban thugs of Miami have!

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

    Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from repercussions. Freedom of speech means the government can't persecute individuals or groups for their views. People are as free today as ever to share viewpoints contrary to the establishment or popular opinion. But with this freedom, as all our freedoms, comes responsibility. People should be aware when they say ignorant, hurtful things that there's going to be an outcry. You can make the decision to say them or not, but you better mean them and be prepared for the response. That's what freedom of speech means. It works both ways. Freedom to speak, and freedom to respond.

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

      Yet we as American's are not allowed to confront Cuban thugs from little Havana in Miami, without political repercussions!

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

      Right, but why is there a punishment ... would this have happened to the Brewer's? Who is judge and jury and why?

      April 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JimJ

    We're talking about Cuban thugs here, criminals that followed Batista to Miami when he got kicked out for corruption, these Cuban power brokers are some of the most vile people on earth.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lorraine

    I agree with all who ask "where is freedom of speech"! He did not say anything hateful; he just didn't think about the uproar it would have on the Cuban community. Everytime something someone says or does what the Cuban community perceives as pro-Castro the rest of us have to suffer...by blocked streets, concerts and, in this case, our home team coach being suspended. In effect, " the coach is being taken away like the demonstrator in Cuba during the Pope's visit".

    April 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    Hitler had some good ideas too. He hated smoking, and gave away gold watches to any of his staff that quit.

    Am I banned now?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95