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. Todd in DC

    So exactly how does his opinion of Castro harm MLB, which would have to be the reason for the suspension?

    Seriously, all he was respecting was Castro's tenacity, not his policies. MLB messed up big time with this.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Julnor

    I'm not even sure I have a problem with what he said. He was referring to Castro's staying power, not commenting on the fact that he is a brutal communist dictator. I wouldn't have suspended him.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. prk

    I do not agree with his opinion but in America he has the right to have one! This is ridiculous that he is suspended for expressing it!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Steven L

    You people don't get it!!! He does NOT have the right to freedom of speech as per his MLB contract...Get over it. He is held to MLB standards and rules...PERIOD

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Art

    Did I hear right? When Mr. Guillen opened his news conference with a statement in Spanish, the CNN talking head remarked that only those "lucky enough to speak Spanish" could understand his statement. LUCKY ENOUGH? I do not speak Spanish. I was LUCKY ENOUGH to be born in this country, where the common language is English. As a resident of South Florida, I am insulted that Mr. Guillen opted to speak directly only to those who speak Spanish, and not to the American people at large.

    On another note, however, the suspension of Mr. Guillen for giving an opinion which has nothing to do with his job is "uh-American." Had a Cuban baseball manager made a comment praising President Obama, he might have lost more than just his job, but then again in a Communist Dictatorship the people have to right to free speech.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. april

    Jack your totally right my friend!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Broncobuster


    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chuck

    Hey Ozzie, you're in Florida, STAND YOUR GROUND! They are threating your job!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bob

    I'm done with baseball. A man has a free speech right and the Marlins punish him for using it. You commies can keep the MLB, my family of 6 will never watch baseball !!!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Larry L

    We care about Castro because the exiles have a modest level of political clout. Most Americans know nothing of Cuba's revolution beyond what they saw in "The Godfather". The revolution threw out a corrupt, elitist government much like one the Koch brothers et. al. would operate in America if they took control. The rich would do well and everybody else gets the crumbs. It's time to end the ridiculous boycott and treat Cuba like another trade partner. We can no longer spin the globe and find nations in need of our "approval".

    April 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rbud

    I don't agree with his statement but..... What ever happened to free speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. oldbear60

    The marlins may be putting up new stadiums , uniforms etc. but they are still practicing the old"appease" the Cuban mafia game. So Castro was/is a putz. So was Batista and a lot of other dictators. This is supposed to be a free country and you have a right to your opinion. From now on my favorite baseball team is ANYBODY playing the Marlins, even the Yankees

    April 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. sf

    what do you expect? he's part of a FLORIDIAN team...welcome to Florida where the STUPID live!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Taking your $

      ....and the really stupid come to vacation!

      April 10, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. JohnReedjr

    Although corporations can do what they want with respect to their employees, one would hope that they would express their "personhood" as defined by the supremes by allowing other people to express their opinions as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Stlchicago

    There's no limit of stupid people in the world. And Ozzie continues to join the club. Yes, it's your First Amendment right to say whatever you want. But, the First Amendment does not protect you from others reaction nor does it limit others reaction to what you say. You're employed in a State with the high Cuban population in this country; and you're dumb enough to say you love Castro. I would have fired the cu_lo.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • FreeSpeech

      F the Cubans !!!! Get OUT go back to your ISLAND ... I am sick of this CRAP !!!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • SactownJack

      He didn't say he loved Castro.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
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