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. biphenylene

    I don't get it. Castro's a pig and that's my opinion and the opinion of many others. However, I'm far less offended by Guillen's words than by MLB's suspending him over them. Since when do they have the right to limit what he can say when it's not hateful or against his team?

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

    These cubans come here for freedom of speech lol and look at what they are doing to ozzie lmao smh actually smd

    April 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alan

    Geez, these whining Cubans down here in Florida give me a headache. Get on a boat, float back to Cuba, and overthrow Fidel if you hate him so much.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      EXACTLY!! lmao everybody knows that's the way to do it. but these cowards who wont shut up will never do that.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. joels2000

    Ok, so why did he get suspended? I was .... thinking ... like steriod use, caught with cocain, meth, molesting kids or something. When I read he said he admired Fidel Castro, and that he was suspended over it... I thought they had more dirt on him .... than his first amendment right to ... say something nice about someone.... another human...

    I am confused.... a senator called Obama stupid... but... nobody suspended the senator.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    This is just another example of the media over-hype. Stop taking things out of context and beating them with the 'politically correct' bat. He made a logically sound statement that I'm sure in context was not intended to offend or upset anyone.
    If he had negative intentions or said something over-the-top then by all means throw a hissy-fit, but this shouldn't even be news.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mtngal

    We are a land with free speech rights, and he is being punished for his opinion. That is very sad. So now the US is going to be like the Cuban dictatorship, where you can't speak your true opinions? This is a step backwards, not forwards. He should not be punished for his personal opinion – but the real root here is that the Marlins don't want a fan (ex-Cubans) boycott. Free speech is about to die for the almighty dollar.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. john

    RESPECT is a word that means you accept what another person does, it does not mean that you agree or like the other persons choices. Respecting someone then gives you more power to deal with them. Grow up Miami. Of course I respect your decision in this matter yet I think you are dumb.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RF Burns

    Where's Marge Schott when you need her?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Peter E

    People forget history, and why Castro is in power. It's not because of his dictatorship. It's because the majority of Cubans chose him over the US puppet regime we tried to impose on their country.
    The US repeatedly tried to incite revolt, fund new 'revolutionaries' on the island, and yet even at our most aggressive attempts, we failed. The majority of Cuban people did not want the puppet government we wanted to impose on them, so they never wanted to 'rise up' against the regime. The Cuban 'exiles' are a very small minority of the population of Cuba. Have they been oppressed? Probably. So they were allowed to leave for the 'free' US.
    Here in the US we also have millions of people who are systematically neglected, exploited, even opressed. And yet, nobody dares call our country a brutal dictatorship. (okay, maybe Fox News does, because according to them neglecting to cut the taxes of rich people even further is equivalent to the Holocaust)

    April 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumguy

      Dude, you have NO idea what you are talking about.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Office Junkie

    Land of the free, home of the brave....just don't insult anyone while you are observing the freedom of speech, or you will get in trouble. I may not agree with him, but I served in the military to support our freedom and liberty. You can't start punishing people because you disagree, that is very un-American. Did we not form this country so we could express our own opinions? TOTAL BS.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • wanfuforever

      Freedom of speech does not give you freedom from criticism. When a person represents a sports club and makes statements everyone knows would openly antagonize your own fan base, there are consequences.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Collin

    Its not even politics, its just one guy's opinion. Since when can't a person have an opinion? What happened to the freedom of speech and all that? From living in central america I can tell you that people don't view Castro as a bad guy.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • chaz

      thats what I thought....makes me HATE the marlins...bad move..

      they were trying to NOT offend their fans base in sofla.

      I know, I just moved from within 5 miles of the stadium. I could see it form my balcony. I got the heck outta there

      April 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mrsjs15

    That evil dictator Castro! How dare someone praise such a strict and narrow minded man who for years and years censored his people, not allowing them to speak of their opinions nor view the opinions of others.

    Look at the US! Here we have freedom of speech, we do not censor our people – the is the land where we are free to express our beliefs and opinions.... as long as those opinions reflect the majority of people and you do not offend anyone.

    Otherwise, we'll humiliate you, make you backtrack and then apologize. Now THAT'S free speech, you Castro lover.

    *snort*

    (And for the record, he called him an SOB. And I think the point was the man ruled for 60+ years and no one has been able to take him down. A good man? No. But to last as long as he did, he is one hell of an SOB)

    April 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Piyaski

    freedom of speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chaz

    why should he be suspended...isnt there freedom of speech in america?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Who cares what he thinks of Castro. He has a right to his opinion no matter what it is, this has nothing to do with baseball. Being suspended for this is just ridiculous political correctness.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
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