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. m1

    Yet if Mr guillen praised the leadership of Columbia or Mexico which has more internal violence and exports more violence than Cuba he would have total respect.

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

    HA HA, he nailed it, nothing to apologize for AT ALL, except saying hugo is a hero? are you kidding me.

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

    Wow, people are so naive! Freedom of Speech only applies to Government action, not private companies.
    If the Marlins have a code of ethics/conduct, which I'm sure they do, you absolutely can be fired for public statements you make that effect the company in any way. Freedom of speech is FAR from absolute, even in the U.S.
    I would question Ozzies judgment for not knowing better.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |

    Props to Castro for maintaining power for the past 60 years. Jeers to the Latin comunity for complaining and not doing something to overthrow him in the past 60 years.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cathy L

      Amen to that. The Romanians did it. Guess they just had more BA**S!

      April 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gary

    "Guillen said he showed poor judgement, but not lack of intelligence, with the original Castro comments."

    Baseball knowledge/intelligence = High

    EVERYTHING ELSE = Total Moron

    April 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sbp

    JOHN, Little Havana isn't more important than the First Amendment, you are just too stupid to understand the First Amendment.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lalo

    Wow! All these comments are great. As a Black man from America, to me Ozzie exercised his “right” of free speech, however, in the corporate world like Ozzie is in, you must comply with your contract or they give you your walking papers. I was a manager in such an environment in several capacities. It’s no joke. Comply or fly. Ozzie clearly needs his job to support his family so he is complying to probably honor his family first. I respect this. He did what he had to do. He’s got tried and tested skills. His “masters” that reprimanded him should now be on guard for the first opportunity for him to exit. He can go anywhere. As far as Castro is concerned, he may have caused much pain as a dictator and he does what dictators typically do, but it is hard to argue with success, even if it is not what “America” calls success, he’s still THE MAN even though not by our standards! As an accomplished percussionist myself, in my opinion, some of the baddest percussionists and musicians are from Cuba and Castro is not keeping them down. We American Blacks don’t have an island to return to when the times get tough here in the good old USA. Look at the hell Obama is going thru simply because he is Black where former Presidents did not have to (having to show your birth certificate………..please!). Go head with yo bad self Ozzie! U OK WIT ME!

    April 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. betty

    Yes freedom of speech protects you from GOVERNMENT intrusion however, your employer can do whatever he/she pleases. You or I can go on T.V. and call Obama whatever we would like with absolutely no problem, go to work and call you employer an a$$*()&*, see what happens!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Shuffler

    He should have just put a hit our on someone. Evidently that is ok.

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

    If the cubans living in the US don't like free speech, they should return to cuba.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. robert

    a manager does not fill the stands but one like ozzie could certainly empty them. so why keep him?

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

    If Ozzie was latin he would be fired.

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

      What? Ozzie is Latin. He's Venezuelen. Did you mean if he wasn't Latin?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Drake


    April 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. J R Catt

    What is next, carry a rebel flag through Liberty City while shouting "The South Shall Rise Again!!"

    April 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LIstenup3076

    The argument against calling your boss a name is ridiculous. The first amnedment does NOT protect you against slander libel or any speech that incites violence. What Ozzie did is completely different then calling your boss a name.

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