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. Del Garcia

    Freedom of Speech ???... Who says it gives you the right to damage your employer... I already see the Marlins ticket sales go down from the offended Cuban-Americans. As stated before, "If you say what you want, be prepared to face the consequences"... The Marlins also have the right to act when their business is damaged... Guillen is brainless, always has been, and always will be.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bill kirby

    Somewhere along the way, someone decided that free speech meant that the government cannot penalize you for what you say. The Bill of Rights doesn't say that! It says free speech period. You have no free speech if your employer has the right to act against you simply because you say something he doesn't like.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loved

      I agree totally. i understand that the employer has the right to protect themselves. however, our society has this false concept of politaclly correctness – which is not synonymous with silence at any cost.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I dont get it???

    He spoke the truth!! Castro.. even hitler... These guys were monsters.. but still had power for a long time, and the backing of millins of people. It is truly amzing how these leasders stay in power so long when the whole world is against them They have my respect.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim in PA

      And it's not like Castro overthrew a democracy. He overthrew Batista who was a horribly corrupt dictator that was turning Cuba into a sewer controlled by the American mafia. As bad as things may be under Castro (either one) I have never heard anyone say "Gee, we wish Batista had never been overthrown!"

      April 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J

    So apparantly the First Amendment means nothing anymore. Good to know i go to war for nothing

    April 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleat

      wow- maybe you should go to school to learn about these things

      April 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      J – The first amendment states that the government cannot arrest you for your speech. Freedom of speech does not protect you from saying something stupid and having your employer discipline you.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob N

    Really???? Have we gone completely bonkers? He is a BASEBALL MANAGER not a foreign policy wonk. I would welcome nothing more than a fully democratic Cuba without the Castro brothers, but for goodness sakes, let the guy speak (or misspeak). No harm, no foul. Anyone that gets their underwear in a bunch over this needs to get a life.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      Easy for you to say. Who has oppressed you lately?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim in PA

    I'm failing to see what the big deal is. Cuban Americans should be thankful to live in the US now that they are here, and quit their whining. Or doesn't that logic apply to ethnic groups that vote Republican?

    April 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MissVLB66

    WOW! Not that I "respect Fidel Castro" or any of his political philosophies, but doesn't punishing someone for an OPINION and for SAYING something unpopular seem pretty....well....Castro-like?? I'm just sayin'.....

    April 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. James.Storm

    Free Country.. how can this man be suspended because of what he thinks? completely BOGUS

    April 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cleat

    first amendment schmirst amendment....
    the govrenment has no say in this- his EMPLOYER does as he was speaking "on the job"

    April 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cleat

    why dont you go work for Coke and publicly (while on the job) promote Pepsi...see how that works for ya...

    April 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sir Hugo Drax

    I don't much care for Castro, but as far as draining the wealth of Cuba that was the Mafia before Castro took control. There are Cuban Americans but there are more Cubans in America who would rather be Cubans in Cuba than Americans in America, hence the drop in ticket sales. This also just another example of how big business tramples on our inalienable rights. We are no longer free as long as your employer and your government dictate what you can and cannot say.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      He can say whatever he wants but he needs to know that there are consequences he hurt the Marlin brand with the Cuban community, the Marlins have every right to punish him for hurting their business. What would happen if you go on public TV and state an opinion that offends one of your company's biggest consumer base? I'm not a genius but you probably get fired.

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

      since when can a person not at work voice an opinion and get suspended from their job. don't we have freedom of speech anymore?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • m glugla

      I respect every persons comments. DO I accept and condone or profess to whats said? No. This is still America, don't we have that inalienable right to say what we feel, as long as it does not incite riot? Respecting each others ideas and opinions is what makes us, technically, above most other nations. DO I like Castro? Hardly. He tried to assist in our demise. But we cannot forget what makes our Democracy greater than any other form of government, our rights and in this case his rights (Quillens) have not been respected.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JimJ

    Miami's Cuban thugs one, the American people zero!

    April 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LOL

    A magnificent new stadium, brand new uniforms, the table set for a spectacular season of baseball in Miami, and along comes stupid venezulean Guillen to ruin the party. Watch the ticket sales to go down and the total revenue of the Marlins as well. For those that don't know the Marlin's stadium is right on the middle of the biggest cuban community in the USA. I would have fired his butt.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimJ

      Just like a little havana thug would...

      April 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JiminNM

      And he would be the winner if he were fired. Heck, he should quit and play for a real American baseball team.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Duffey

    It is timme we quit pandering to minority groups in this country.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lando

    The lack of speech freedom is one of the reason why these American Cubans escape their homeland yet they abhor anyone who speaks their mind. Have'nt they learned yet what freedom is all about?????

    April 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimJ

      These are the very same people, who receive US full benefits when they come ashore, that even American citizens must work for to get. We must stop pandering to this Miami vermin community!

      April 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lapcopper

      Watch out! they are trying to pitch Rubio to VP with Romney. He will also continue the stupid US policy toward Cuba and let the Cuban AMericans dictates foreign policy... what a joke...

      April 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
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