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. Donald in CA

    Every cuban dont hate castro. Ozzie had a right to speak his mind. The same conservative castro haters make ugly remarks about our president. Just look at the ugly remarks rubio makes about our president. Ozzie has a right to speak his mind as ribio does about our president..

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

      They play in Little Havana. I can assure you there are no pro-Castro Cubans to be found there.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Charley witt

    Do we still have free speech in this country? If we do nothing should happen.the average person says that no big deal.some one in public eye it matters?double standard!who cares!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sam

    David Samson, President of the Marlins, has been a regular subject of media controversies. The sometimes negative attention has partly been the result of his outspoken nature and tendency to make blunt, colorful comments in public forums. This sounds a little hypocritical if you ask me!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Obama/Bush = Stooges, Hasta la Victoria Siempre

    Ozzie Guillen had the guts to tell the truth.

    The Cuban fascist stooges in Miami, the corporo-fascist CIA, and whomever can try to spin it however they want, but the fact of the matter is the vast, vast majority of Cuban people waged a popular rebellion against the US-installed puppet regime in Cuba, and the bunch of fascist stooges in Florida who call themselves "Cuban" are the 5-10% or so of Cubans (Peti t-Borgeousie) who were on the wrong side. Period.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Spock500

    I don't have much else to offer. I agree with the bulk of the comments: FREE SPEECH. Thank you.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. El Cubanito

    You know the whole thing is sad. I am a Cuban-American adn I do not agree with this. It is not because I like Castro, on the contrary he is tyrrant. But the truth needs to be told and the truth is how many of the 1.2 Cuban-American that live in Miami who also DO NOT have free speech, really hate Castro. Let look at it this way of the 1.2 million from my Parents generation that came from Cuba in the 1960's how many are still alive and living in Miami? 5%? 10%, if that? My generation simply does not care. That leaves the Cuban that came after 1990 and those Cubans LOVE CASTRO. Those Cuban that came after 1990's do not agree with the economic decision, but they LOVE CASTRO. There I said let fun start.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. klur

    Seriously?! So he said something stupid that got misconstrued and he is suspended for 5 games? This doesn't have anything to do with his job performance- he admitted that it was stupid. He didn't say he supported Castro's brutal communist rule- just that the guy survived for 60 years despite multiple attempts to assassinate him. You will have to admit that is impressive.
    What happened to freedom- you have to be afraid to express your opinion about anything these days.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian

    What does a comment about Castro have anything to do with American Baseball? His personal views are HIS personal views and have nothing to do with how he plays baseball. There is such a thing as freedom of speech. Oh yeah I forgot this is America where you can get fired for posting a status on Facebook or speaking your ind, it could be worse I guess you could be put in front of a firing squad and shot. But like I said what happened to freedom?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geenome

      Excellent comment, Brian! I couldn't have said it better!

      April 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Your Mom

    He was right and has nothing to apologize before.

    What is wrong with these pinheads, have they never heard of freedom of speech? They certainly have never heard of putting their brains in gear before they act.

    Please let there be a lawsuit against these halfwit cretins, good and bloody and public as hell. A boycott action against the team and the parent company is under way. No prisoners.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Liisa B

    really?! it might not have been a spark of genius to actually say what he thought, but look at the big picture... he was kinda right... and that aside, i thought this is America, where freedom of speech is a right we all have. the vast majority can disagree with what he said about castro, but that doesn't mean he should be suspended... i'm so sick of everybody making big deals out of s#$t like this... get over it, people! we have too many real issues to address in this country of ours – lets pick a different cause...

    April 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • WISDOM357

      Why does Ozzie keep getting passes. If this were anyone else right or wrong they would have been thrown out of the league. What does he have on Bud Selig????? Why is he allowed to shoot his mouth off when and how he wants. He should be thrown out on his ear. Go be regular people.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JL

      Just remember what your parents taught you..."If you can't say anything bad about Castro, don't say anything at all."

      April 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Think First

      Come on..... The vast majority of these replies are very out of touch. This is a VERY sensitive issue for some people. Especially in the community the MIAMI Marlins are based out of- Little Havana. Many have been displaced, imprisoned, tortured or killed by Castro's political Machine. Miami is a Different place, unlike any other city in the Nation or the World for that matter, just ask those who live here and those who have visited. You cant make insensitive remarks and expect to no face the consequences. We love to have freedom of speech, but we hate to face it's consequences? Think before you act.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael F.

      I agree Liisa...All Mr. Guillen said was that he respects Castro for managing to still be here, regardless of those who wanted to see him gone. He has the right to say that, or should. It's ridiculous that so many people are getting so apoplectic about this? Calm down Florida...you're looking pretty stupid...all over the place!

      April 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      @Liisa B and all the idiots here that don't get it.....don't get the issues confused...yes you have freedom of speech and say what you want...but that doesn't mean you have immunity from paying the consequences for what you say. For instance, you can say your boss is an idiot, but the fact that you have the right to say it, doesn't protect you from getting your ass fired by the boss you offended...get it? The Miami Marlins are a private organization..they employ Ozzie...and he said something that is very offensive to the community where the Marlins do business and these are the same people who will pay the money to fill the seats. So the Marlins have the right to suspend him or fire his ass for offending the same customers that the Marlins expect will buy their tickets...get it? It doesn't matter that he has the right to say it...hes not in jail, so his right to say it has been exercised...but he has to know that you have to be responsible for the consequences of what you say. THAT'S WHAT THE ISSUE IS PEOPLE..NOT FREEDOM OF SPEECH...BUT CONSEQUENCES FOR TALKING BEFORE THINKING..WHICH IS WHAT LOTS OF PEOPLE HERE DO.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. edeveryday

    So "freedom of speech" does not apply to private enterprise? O.K. fine, then I'm out o' here! That's the last time I give you all a piece of my mind! Good bye!

    April 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumguy

      Ummm, companies are "FREE" to write clauses into their employment contracts for cases like this.
      This guy is the face and mouthpiece for the whole team. He's an I d i o t, for blabbing about a touchy subject like this.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rjc

      Exactly, so he made a comment, big deal...

      April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Richard

    well baseball's come along way –i remember reading on wikipedia that Yankee outfielder Ben Chapman used to give the nazi salute when he played in the outfield at Yankee stadium (and yes he was the same redneck who taunted Robinson) –ironically he was traded for Jake Powell who also mad inappropriate comments. So baseball has come along way.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tutuvabene

    Seems to admire political strongmen, seeing as he came from the land of Hugo Chavez.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. thesnozzberry

    This isn't an abuse of freedom of speech because it isn't the government that suspended him. Baseball is a business, and what he did was bad for business. He was offensive to a group of people that they need to go to their games. Freedom of speech has nothing to do with it. Leave your politics to your own personal things, and represent your team in a way that will help gain fans.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RF Burns

    Ozzie is a one man entertainment center. Just sit down at your computer with a plate of Nachos & a six-pack. Then go to the You-tube website and search for Ozzie Guillien quotes end enjoy the rest of the evening.

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