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. Rasta Ozzie

    Enough already. Have the cuban exiles living here learned nothing in the past 53 years? If you don't think and say exactly as their designed rhetoric then you must be punished! Is this not the strategy that Fidel Castro has always used? What makes them any different than Castro? Freedom of speech! What Guillen says and does on his personal time has nothing to do with baseball! Why are we giving into these close minded exiles? If they feel so strongly against their dictator then take him out, they have had 53 years.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cathy L

    The Cubans win again. Every time they do not like our ways in this country, they become enraged and everyone gives in to them... How much more power are you going to give them? Is not what they are doing similar to a dictatorship...the very same thing they hate? What is next? Are they going to demand that non-cubans should not be allowed in South Florida? The more you give them the more power they have. What in the world happened to our democracy and the majority rule? In Florida, if you aren't Cuban you don't matter

    April 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • ray

      not only again cathy every time..!!! we will always win....we are all there is....

      April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      WRONG!! OBAMA WON FLORIDA LMAO

      April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • hecep

      It's all about demographics (and money) for the Marlins who bulked up their team with latin-american players and manager. They made it quite plain that they were going for the Floridian latin-american fans (overall, a growing demographic) and needed to improve current poor-to-mediocre stadium attendance. Yes, the Marlins' response is political, but only because the financials were at stake.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stan

    If you don't live in Miami, then you don't understand the fanatical, hysterical anti-Castro sentiment displayed by hard-core right-wingers in the exile community. They're not called the "Miami Mafia" for nothing.

    And it just so happens that Cubans are wildly passionate about baseball. If they decide to boycott the team, the Marlins are screwed.

    People have been killed for making the kinds of statements that Guillen made.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      I know lol that's why Ima start going to games lol Cubans need to take over their country. Stop being chickens.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. C

    This is very absurd. People talk admiringly about George Washington all the time, even though he ordered his slaves to be beaten and reaped the works their labor. You have a right to state your opinion, but if you really are going to say you cannot admire someone at all who has a brutal past, don't admire Washington, and don't express admiration for lots of leaders.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sumguy

    I'm a born and raised American who married an American woman who's parents immigrated here from Cuba. Because my in-laws are Catholic and did not support the revolution, they lost everything in Cuba. When they decided they wanted to leave and their names came up on the list, my father in-law was taken from his family and thrown in a labor camp for 6 months before they were allowed to leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs. My mother in-law, who had a 6 month old at the time, had no idea where her husband was, or if he was OK for 6 months.
    When you think of Castro, think of story's like this...they are a dime a dozen. He took a great country and turned it to Sh&^, and abused anyone that didn't capitulate completely. He's a waste of skin, and I question anyone's judgement that supports the guy. As for this situation, the Coach probably signed a contract that allows him to be suspended for making this type of political statement while employed by the team. Bad for business, simple as that.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ray

      bottom line is dont F with us again down here. This is sparta !!!!

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

      ray, get your "spartanass" to cuban and fight castro like a real man, have a real civil war. COWARDS lmao

      April 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LIstenup3076

    True the first amendment is meant to protect you from government sanctions against your speech. I think the spirit of the law is far different. As americans we should be very careful to expect anyone company or private citizen to punish someone for their opinion. If you have no problem with a corporation doing it the next step will be the governmnet. Freedom is not pretty but it does afford you the opportunity to have an opinion. As an american who respects freedom you should be able to hear another persons opinion and agree or disagree be able to have a civil discussion and move on.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeremy

    Freedom of speech doesn't exist in Florida, It's like another country down there. When you walk into a Burger King, they take your order in Spanish. When you try to give your order in English the staff become irate. I was told I need to take the time to learn their language... I said I will when I go to Spain, and walked out! There are so many foreigners there that they expect you to learn and follow their ways instead of them adapting to the rules and laws of the US.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sbp

    Did they stop teaching the Bill of Rights in High School? 99% of you have NO CLUE what the FIRST AMENDMENT MEANS. And apparently, you either refuse to read the hundreds of posts explaining it, or are incapable of understanding it. The level of stupidity here is amazing.

    Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech....

    DO YOU SEE THE GOVERNMENT INTERVENING HERE? THEN SHUT UP ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ray

    this is our town our city our rules. You dont show us up here. Ever !!! you dont support that man anywhere especially here. And he knew that. He did that cause he wanted too. He had a good home here. He challanged as all south american like too do the power of cubans here in the u.s. and he found out first hand. The power of this still Fully operational battle station. He though!!! the exiles are dead. ummm....No buddy. Younger generations keep watch too.

    We are cuban Americans we number 2 million strong down here. We close ranks on this issue instantly. Against anyone !!
    anybody any nation any goverment any people. This is

    sparta !!!!

    lloll...........

    by tomm he will be out of a job !!!

    and the counrty will get a powerfull lesson.

    On what being cuban is all about. About the old guard. And especially.......how serious we take this issue down here.

    Dont F with us again !!!

    carry on...

    April 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      Like i said, get your "spartanass" outta here and go fight castro face to face, you COWARDS. Cutting and running lol Learn something from the arab spring and quit yappin your mouth lol fight man, FIGHT!!! grow some balls.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Roberto

    Freedom of expression? Is this still the USA? Where does the revered ACLU stand on this? Marlins management is out of line... am I banned from attending games for these thoughts?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Could not agree more with you.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Freedom of Speech only applies in a public setting to which you are the only speaker and that you are not infringing on the rights of others. In this case, it is considered a private setting and his statement was made as a manager of the baseball team. Had he said those comments in his own home to his family and neighbors, then that is protected speech. It is akin to YOU going to your boss at work telling him he is a jerk. What would your boss do? Probably fire you since you said your speech on private property.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Sorry Paul that does not apply as absolutely as you would claim. First it is very difficult to construe an interview in Time magazine as anything other than public. Furthermore, it is impossible for anyone to reasonably state that he made such a statement as a "Marlins" employee. As far as I know the Marlins have no political agenda. They play sports games. He did not say the "Marlins' feel such as such he said that HE felt a particular way. A person interviewed as he was can not be held to making pronouncements for the company when the interview moves into personal and non work related thoughts or experiences. The interviewer did not ask how the 'Marlins" felt they asks how HE felt. He told them.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sbp

    Listenup, it's a question of degree, as there is no legal requirement for private citizens or corporations to respect speech they find offensive. At what point is the offended allowed to express their freedom of speech to state that they are offended? At what point is a company allowed to take action against speech that will harm them?

    I don't know of companies that fire people for belonging to "the wrong" political party. It's pretty implicit that corporations tolerate most speech that does not impact their operations. But Guillen's comments WOULD impact the Marlin's business.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrBo

      It's not a question of freedom of speech.
      He's not in jail for saying what he said.
      But voicing your opinion can definitely have repercussions, especially is those opinions adversely affect the company you work for...

      April 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LIstenup3076

      I agree with the rights of the individual to express there disagreement with a comment they find offensive. I think a company being able to sanction you for the same is a very slippery slope. Where does it stop? If my boss is republican and I am democrat can I be fired becuase he saw me at a democrat event. If I work for GM and drive a ford could they say I dont represent the company? I realize these are far less egregious situations as Mr Guillens but once you open the door they never close again.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sbp

    Roberto, the ACLU would say with no government intervention, Guillen's rights have not been abridged.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SSampson

    Wow – It certainly wasn't hates speech; it wasn't racist – it was opinion....

    A suspension is insane!!! – While I beleive that freedom of speech comes with responsibilities; I agree that the freedom does not permit people to tell lies,slander or promote hate – in THIS case he did absolutely nothing wrong....

    While people may not like what he said, everyone should know that this road we are taking is towards the redefining of what freedom of speech represetns...

    How can there be freedom when we must choose from a restricted menu?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrea

    II suppose there is no freedom of speech anymore. I should probably be fired from my job for saying I didn't like Bush...

    April 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. italia

    Is this some kind of farce? Last time I checked this is The United States of America. People are allowed to express their viewpoint and it shouldn't cost them a suspension on their jobs. He didn't say he 'loved" Castro, or that he hated him. he said "He respected him for his staying power. A lot of people feel that way. Any leader who has been in power that long right or wrong it says a lot and it shouldn't offend people who are fighting against him. I think for this man to have been suspended is just wrong. He should have fought the suspension on the grounds of Freedom of Speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
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