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. Jarhead4life

    Cubans need to finally get their heads out of their asses. Its because of them that Castro is still in power after all these years. They are the ones that want the stupid blockade and no travel to Cuba. Had they just shut up, and let anyone go there that wanted to, capitalism would have taken over and pushed Castro out years ago.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jk

      That's what the Cubans and the rest of the world were saying during the Bush administration

      April 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobby frank-Dallas, TX

    You can't say anything about a group of people until you walk in their shoes. That was a pretty stupid comment and hurtful to alot of people. He has to be punished just like a kid cause he should have known better than to make such a stupid comment like that. He's just a big kid still playing a kids game. Grow up and start thinking about others and no so much yourself!

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

    once an idi0t, always an idi0t...........enjoy, Miami.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    If all you cry babies are going to whine about every little thing you hear. Please walk around with ear plugs and stay away from me. People today are way to sensitive.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. b

    It's very simple, Cuban-Americans have gotten their way for 60 years (!!!). Has it worked? How are the Cuban people doing? There is only one answer. The policy we've used for 60 years (!!!) has FAILED. It has failed the people of Cuba. Cuban-Americans have actually hurt the people of Cuba with their policy over the last 60 years (!!!). If you cared about the Cuban people at least as much as you hate Castro, you would try a new policy. So tell us, which is greater, your hatred for Castro or your love of the Cuban people. You can only pick one answer.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sam

    Thank goodness he lives in the United States. In the USA you can say what you want.. live with the knowledge that you won't be killed because of the color of your skin. You don't have to worry about being arrested without charge or held for a long periode of time without being charged, AND there is no way you will be stripped search for a littering fine.. OHHHH I forgot.. that can and does happen in the USA..

    Good thing all those men died to protect your rights..

    April 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jarhead4life

      You can say what you want? REALLY? Did you even read the story??? He made a comment that had nothing to do with baseball and he got suspended for 5 games. That is not freedom of speech. While conditions in Cuba are of course much harsher, they don't have to be. Drop all of the restrictions to Cuba and let big money go in there and get capitalism rolling. Lots of resources there, beautiful beaches and a very greatful work force ready and waiting.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |


    April 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jarhead4life

    His comments were his own personal beliefs. They had nothing to do with baseball, so the team nor MLB had any right to suspend him for them. So much for free speech. Oh wait, he is in Florida that explains it all.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. WhatHappened?

    Freedom of speech? It's gone.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hunter

    Freedom of speech still exists in this country? Guess not if you say something praising a Communist for staying alive.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • bitorbite

      If that is the only reason you can praise a leader for...then the best thing to do would be to zip it.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • tffl

      It was the Marlins (his employer) that acted. Freedom of speech applies to the government, not your boss. Cost your boss money and you'll find yourself on the sidewalk too...

      April 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Fightforyourrights

    What happened to the first amendment? If he respects Castro for being able to be in power for so long, it is his right to express his opinion and he shouldn't be punished for it either by his workplace or the government.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Smith

      You have NO rights anymore, until you learn that – this will continue to happen.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cheryl Jefferies

    Cuba? Castro? He should have been suspended for his remarks about Arizona. A state fighting to simply see that the laws on the books are enforced and he excoriates them (of course, so does Obama, so what the heck?!). What he said about Castro is nothing compared to that.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LOL

    How stupid can you get, I would have more respect for this stupid venezulean if he had stuck to his words. It is sad to see this idiot back pedal from his original statement. Guillen is not only an idiot, he is also a coward.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      No no, cubans are cowards. they cut and ran from their country and are fighting castro some how from here, they think.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    For those who say "I Love Fidel" I would say one thing to them, renounce your Citizenship and go live over there. Fidel has been a soar in the butt of humanity for over 50 years. He gas gracefully destroyed the lives of many people, has drained the island of its wealth and dignity. Has incarnated and killed thousands…shall I go on? How would the readers react if I say I love Hitler (which I don’t)? Think about it?

    April 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Smith

      The US has killed millions more people in the name of "security and freedom" then Castro could ever dream of. You know what they say about those in glass houses...

      April 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Think again

      It wasn't Castro that caused Cuba's economic hardships, it was us. Fifty years of sanctions and hostility have taken their toll.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      On the bright side, John, Cuba does have a high literacy rate, which you evidently could benefit from. Let the eagle sore.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • SSampson

      Perhaps – they DO have a higher literacy rate...and a slightly higher life expectancy rate than we do here...But supposedly 'saying' this is a crime....

      BTW – in regards to literacy.... it is SORE – not SOAR – INCARCERATED not INCARNATED – I am guessing 'GAS' was a typo...

      As for plundering the wealth of the country.... not really true – he kicked out our puppet BATISTA who WAS robbing the country blind and allowing multinationals to pay slave wages.... but hey, no point letting facts interfere with perception..

      April 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      You have the most unintelligent person in the world if you are comparing Adolf Hitler with Fidel Castro. Castro calls the Jewish people, the most group that has endured the most suffering, what did Hitler say about Jews again?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      The saddest thing to see is someone who, either by ignorance or lack of education, attempts to comment on an issue and uses words unfamiliar to his everyday vernacular. It's "sore" not "soar." It's "incarcerate" not "incarnate." I need to go wash my eyes.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jack237

    It's a shame that a comment such as this gets you suspended from managing baseball, but saying that poor black children should be employed as janitors doesn't get you suspended from a presidential f@#%ing primary.

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