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. Anthony

    So much for freedom of speech in America. I'm sure the Cubans, Chinese and the old Russians will be happy to hear that even in America you can’t speak your mind freely.

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

      Good lord ... you can speak your mind freely. However, speaking your mind publicly as a public representative of your employer and hurting them in the process is grounds to be terminated (or suspended). The government didn't tell them to suspend him. He alienated a large segment of their customer base. If it was your business what would you do?

      April 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dot8

    When you're in America speak English and when you're in Cuba speak Spanish, that way there's no confusion.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. the law

    hay, Cuban's have better health care then us.... as for the suspendtion, thats pretty dumb... I hope I get to fly out there someday....

    April 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • JerseyBill

      Stay there.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pam

    I don't care if he is talking about Ted Bundy or Hitler. We have freedom of speech in this country, or has that been changed?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Asturiano

    In any other city we tolerate the First Amendment, but not in Miami if the subject is Castro. Never heard a peep when they supported the blood-thirsty fascist Batista.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Informed99

    Absolutely ABSURD and the most PATHETIC example of political correctness so far this year. Yes Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences of speech, but this is the most ridiculous thing I have heard. It smacks of vindictiveness and of pandering to the vocal minority. In the end an organization will do what it needs to in order to protect its image, and throw whomever they need under that bus.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sortakinda

    Could THIS be THE story that outlasts Trayvon and the Al & Jesse Show? Not much else to cover, I suppose. I heard Derek Jeter belched and didn't excuse himself fast enough for a nearby CNN reporter.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JerseyBill

    Because they idolize Fidel, should half the d-bags in Hollywood be suspended as well?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Raul

    land of the free?... yeah... sure

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

    This is garbage. I respect Fidel Castro. I'm not saying I agree with everything he's put into place, like his stance on gay people, BUT brutal dictator? No. Cuba as a whole, is safer than most parts of the US. The only people who complain about Castro are the thieves from the Batista regime, who kept the people poor and dependent, except for the criminals. Who ALL uprooted and RUINED Miami, made it into a ghetto dump. Their legacy lives on in the Miami inland where the only people who gain any respect are the criminals, thugs, rapists, who keep the neighborhoods poor and dependent.

    LONG LIVE CASTRO!!!!! Better than KEnndey, Better than Reagan, than Bush, Better than OBama!!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jackie

      Not you or anyone is going to make it believable. Why on earth would people risk their lives to cross the florida straits in old cars....WHY would a country not allow its citizens to travel abroad, afterall if its nice wouldn't they WANT to come back? So no matter how much you talk about the "Great Castro" it cannot be believed.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      You have no clue what you are talking about. Cuba is not a country where people are safe. You say the wrong thing against the government and you go to jail without a trial. Furthermore, the Cubans in Miami have brought nothing but wealth to that community. I think you are confusing them with the black or mexican community. The Cuban population is the wealthiest of any immigrant group and has elected officials and CEOs of major corporations within the same generation that immigrated. Get a clue and stop hating on a group that you don't know anything about.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sortakinda

    Dod anyone who is up in arms notice that Ozzie call Castro an SOB?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amused1944

      You are very smart to have noticed this 'very' important detail. This man was not showing admiration for Castro as a leader of a country but as one lucky S.O.B. that has figured out how to stay alive. To Latins, S.O.B. is a very serious derogatory thing to say to/or of anyone–Unlike here in the US, where Americans call each other that without blinking an eye. This man is apologizing for his 'unintentional' ofense when he translated this thoughts from Spanish to English. If I were him, I would sue the organization. People who don't understand other cultures are quick to make judgements.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jackie

    Ozzie is ignorant...just like Sean Penn, Michael Moore, other those congress women that went a few years ago who all talk about how wonderful it is. They go to Potemkin villages and think that life in Cuba is nice...yet they don't question what makes a mother take her children on a shoddy raft through the Florida Straits? Cubans are great...the island is beautiful...the government is suppressive and unbearable

    April 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And you are ignoring his words and twisting them to fit your OWN political view.
      He didn't say any bloody thing about life in Cuba, he was commenting on Castro"s longevity.
      Did you miss the part where he called Castro a S O B, or doesn't that fit is with your politcal rant?

      April 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MrCannuckistan

    What ever happened to free speech? We obviously don't know how the conversation turned to politics but if asked a question he should be free to speak his mind. The 1st amendment gives him that right. It's a free country and I suppose the Team has the right to fire him without cause and suffer the consequences, but please, to discipline him for his political views? That smacks of discrimination.


    April 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Satan

      Didn't you know MLB regulations do not allow players to make political statements? Oh wait that's the military

      April 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angel

      You summed up everything I wanted to say. Great yet obvious points. Nothing ceases to amaze me anymore. His suspension is absolutely ridiculous.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lyn

      I agree. I thought the United States was the "Land of the free", where freedom of speech was respected?? I have a lot of trouble understanding how someone's political opinion affects their ability to manage a team!

      April 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    Oh no! How dare he express support for a politician!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Limbaugh is a liberal

    In America we have freedom of speech. You are free to say whatever you want... unless what you say is unpopular. Then you will be suspended from your job and treated as a criminal for the rest of your life.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
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