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. Chad

    These commissioners are quick to suspend a player for an off the cuff remark, but they look the other way about steroid use.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. loui85

    Even though I might not hold Fidel Castro in high esteem, I don't see why Guillen should be chastised. Since free speech is one of the aspects that differentiates the U.S. from Cuba.

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

      Until you say the politically inappropriate thing.

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

    Would you people screaming about freedom of speech still be saying that if his quote had been "I love Osama Bin-Laden, I respect him for surviving so long in the mountains".. I know the same ones defending him would be asking for his head. That's because it is a topic you care about. Well Bin-Laden killed a tiny fraction of the amount of people Castro has killed. An FYI.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bonnie

    Are we not the land of FREE SPEECH! If we are going to start censoring what can and cannot be said we are no better than those we accuse of dictatorship policies. Maybe people should actually read about Castro and the early days of the revolution. I don't like the dictatorship and feel horrible that the people have suffered so long but this is just so wrong on many levels!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ted

    He upset the Cuban – American community. Maybe it would be illuminating for him to go and teach baseball in Castro's Cuba for a while, not draw the huge salary he gets here in America, and live on a very modest salary, line up for groceries, and reside in a 50 year old one room apartment.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus112

      Thank you Ted! A real American, who gets it. Too many gd commies around I think nowadays. It's beginning to concern me.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jdog

    Dog I'm glad i live in Canada....the US is a wingnut fearful of everything society....fear everything, guns guns guns.....money first above all else.....confused children

    April 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jim

    Last time I was in Miami had Cubans yelling; "Yankee Go Home". That did make me upset to a minor degree, and have not been back to the entire state of Florida since. Have gone to Jamaica and Bahamas, without any comments like I heard from Cubans in Miami. Only place that seems to generate more anger than Cuba is Haiti, in my experience, even Cubans don't like going to Haiti.

    As for these comments by Guillen, he should have the right to say what he wants, and I don't care what team he is manager of. I may not watch any Marlin games, but wasn't watching them before anyhow. If the Marlins didn't raise such a fuss, doubt this would have gotten so much bad publicity. If you have not been to Miami in last few decades then you don't know how bad the rhetoric is there. The same person may praise Castro 1 minute and condemn him to hell the next. That was my big impression last time there, they all hate each other and just stay outta their way, eventually they need to end their hate or it will consume them, just as hate has consumed Haiti.

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

    This is a remark I would expect a newbie player to make but the manager...!?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sra. Julia

    I just don't like this thing where a corporation like a baseball club gets to control what views a person has about politics or anything else. I thought this was the land of the free! Guess not. The remark that you can't hand out coupons for a rival business at McDonald's or Atheist flyers at church is this cannot be punished for it either other than maybe being asked to leave and if you don't being removed by the police because your trespassing. You can still stand on the sidewalk and say what you want or you should be able to, but these days ..... who knows, cops are shown beating up grandmas at protest rallies and spraying peaceful protesters with pepper spray at an increasing rate. The corporation rules HAIL The corporate leaders.

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

    Re-statement..."baseball be berry berry good to be...Castro been berry bad." Everybody happy?

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

    "This is the biggest mistake so far in my life." Wow, he must have been an angel all his life. Give me a break. A suspension for exercising his free speech. So much for "land of the free and home of the brave" slogan.

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

    Miami is an infested craphole.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Miguel M

    By suspending Guillen shows that they are no different than Castro. Dictators

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

      how right you are

      April 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SomeGuy

    This isn't like North Korea or China .. or Cuba. 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 isn't a freedom of speech issue. 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. Both of you have the right to end 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 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HealeyDude

    Whatever happen to the 1st amendment? The militant Cuban element in Miami for decades has done everything it can to stifle reasonable discourse on how to respond to the Castro regime. There is no question that Castro is totalitarian and has repressed the Cuban people for years. However, the ex patriot Cuban leadership has pressured every US President since Kennedy to avoid any conciliation and trade with the Cuban government, resulting in increased hardship for the Cuban people. Their attempts to suppress Guillen's free expression shows that they haven't embraced the virtues that make the US great. They have a lot to learn...............

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