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. Cheryl

    Let's look at those Miami Cubans, shall we? They want to establish an Opus Dei Catholic theocracy in Cuba. They also want to repeal abortion and LGBT rights. They want to privatize public beaches. They want to replace Cuba's universal health care system with the crappy for-profit system we have in US. They want to get rid of the free educational system with one similar to ours where the very rich, or heavily indebted, are the only ones in college. One last thing: people accused of terrorism in Cuba get a fair trial. People accused of terrorism by US either disappearing in gulag, are killed by drone strike, or are assassinated by orders of dictatorial President.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sally

    Wow. So much for freedom of speech. The poor guy may as well be in Cuba. Do the Cubans who now live here care anything about American freedoms?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SemperFI

    How ironic, the reason he was suspended was because Miami is predominantly Cuban most of whom detest Castros Tyranny and how he suppressed the rights of Cubans yet here the very same thing is being done to Guillen, Freedom of Speech...I think Not...or No Senor, eso no se acepta en Miami.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LiqMat

    Unbelievable!!! USA freedom of speech is protected, but it may destroy your livelihood anyway effectively creating an environment where freedom of speech really means absolutely nothing.

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

      Freedom of speech is just a slogan it has no meaning...just an empty slogan for political gain.....

      April 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    Not that I agree with Ozzie Guillen but whatever happened to the first amendment regarding Freedom of Speech.
    America has lost its way and needs to practice what it preaches. The line between Dictatorship and Democracy is not that great and it is growing smaller every day.

    April 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sbp

    John, are you brain damaged? Are you simply ignoring every post that states the First Amendment applies to government action, not the actions of a private company like the Marlins?

    Or is that too complicated for your pea brain?

    April 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • LiqMat

      Yes, but their should be a law in place in the United States that protects your livelihood when you decide to use your right of freedom of speech. If every time you use your freedom of speech right means losing your livelihood that essentially negates your freedom of speech essentially. Freedom of speech in America is really just lip service. Pun intended.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      So you believe that freedom of speech applies only to the government? I guess if you ignored a couple hundred years of case law you might come to that conclusion. Given your logic you would be happy working for an organization that prevented you from having any opinion different than the company line under penalty of suspension or being fired. Makes for nice little robots, Tea Party members or establishment Republicans

      April 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LarryA

    OK, this is not a freedom of speech issue because the government isn't censoring him, but I am disturbed by a couple of things here:

    1) He made the remarks to Time Magazine on his own time. Bud Selig's statement about the comments not belonging in the game are correct, but the team's management is who brought the comments and baseball together.

    2) Baseball enjoys an anti-trust exemption from the federal government. It seems like they should be held to a higher standard than a run-of-the-mill business firing an employee for something they did outside of work.

    3) As someone else pointed out, Baseball seems to be following the WWFD (What Would Fidel Do?) philosophy.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    When little Havana becomes more important than the first amendment than America is on a slippery slope downward.
    They have caved to their interest group for political gain. How shameful....

    April 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cheo

    As a cuban that's has been in the US must of my life,I say that he can express himself as he wishes,that's call "FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION"...I'm not liked the ignorant cuban boneheads in the Miami area that haven't learned anything from the history of Cuba...and why we lost our Cuba..it was our father's,uncle's,grandfather's fault,but those fools in Miami have their head so far inside their rectum,that they can' t see the light!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ali

    Shame of people who talk about the freedom of speech. This is the real face of human right and freedom of speech. It is okay if you say what we like and it is not okay if you say what we don't like. Hypocrites.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jason

    No Free Speech in Marlin country, or Cuba

    April 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ehomer

    Insanity. Sheer insanity. What he said was just logical. He said nothing offensive or wrong. Miami Cubans really need to get over themselves. I am glad they are not quite the power they once were & I hope they disappear entirely (before they go back to Cuba & try to seize land & turn it back into Batistaland).

    April 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mamivaqui

    Who cares what he said. Cubans left because "there is no freedom there" and they reproduce here what they left.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr. T. Bag

    Wow, that's all he did??? W T F. –I thought he molested some kids or something, like Joe Paterno.... So America is supposed to be free huh? Freedom of speech, huh??? –No. Just, No....

    April 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Not Surprised

    Ozzie Guillen didnt stand up and defend his comments Why? Because he is a coward and lacks a couple of.... Millions of people will always admire Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Castro and other individuals of similar legacies and well; Its their own right. But if they decide to stand up for these people they are in a sense taking ownership of their lagacies and advocating their actions and SHOULD stand up for themselves. Its a cowardly act, in a city that funded your stadium and gave someone like Guillen an opporunity. This guy lacks a total sense of morality

    April 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
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