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. Jim in PA

    Obviously Miami is a cesspool of rightwing political correctness.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jimbo

    I also respect Fidel Castro, regardless of what those cowardly ex-Cuban immigrants think. They cut and ran away and now like to take pot shots at their homeland instead of fighting for what they felt was injustice. Cowards of Miami.

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

      Agree

      April 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      jimbo you are an insignifican POS so you can respect whoever you like no one cares.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lapcopper

      You cannot said it better...

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

    First I am not a fan of Guillen, but I do RESPECT him for saying what he thinks. Gee will I get 5 days off from my job now! There was a time in this country when free speech actually meant something. He was not saying we should bow at castro's feet or anything. If we take away our basic rights, do not complain one day when we wake up and find a hammer and sickle flag over the white house instead of the starts and stripes.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Akira

    I don't agree with what this guy said, but it hardly justifies suspending him. Seems a rather excessive punishment.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Truth

    This is whats wrong with this country Its a beautiful jail no freedom of speech, no freedom of thought, no freedom to voice your opinion or practice your believes without being persecuted by the 70 to 80% of the population that no nothing but the inside of there home or backward church. Grow up! Dumb Americans.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      Truth how about you go to Cuba first and see what a real "beautiful jail" looks like, then come here and keep posting your lies.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buriri

      Freedom of speech? Try to say that you admire George Zimmerman or that the Holocaust never happened and let's see how long your job last.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      Truth – You do have freedom of speech. The government will not come and arrest you if you speak. That is all that freedom of speech means. It does not protect you from being disciplined by your employer.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Buriri

    Guillen is a hypocrite. This is not the first time that he puts his foot in his mouth and apologizes the following day. What was at the root of today's apology was not his heart but the monies that he makes here in Miami. The community build the stadium at a cost of $700 million for a team that can not even hire a manager with an IQ above his shoe size. Sponsors are pulling out and the fans are not happy. That's not good business for the team owner.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cathy L

    Our gov't has been a sore in our butt much, much longer than Castro, including the present regime, oops, the Hope and Change party The rich rule, waving our sweat in our faces, making the rich richet, and the poor near death. Brutality? Does anyone remember 9-11? How much more brutal can it get. They blew us up because our gov't makes it very clear that the people from the Middle East are less than human. We asked for it and we got it. Unfortunately, like other countries, they took it out on the innocent. We all have lived under brutality which plays itself out, over time, in many different ways. We have no control either, as our politicians don't acknowledge us until reelection time. We do not wear our heart on our shoulders nor do we ask for and get special "privileges", as the Cubans do. This is America, but, no one group is more important than the next. Please, take your complaints and get in line. Thank you.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buriri

      Can you love Hitler but not his ideology? Can you say that in the national media?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nora from chicago

    This man is allowed to think whatever he wants regardless of what the Latin community in Florida or anywhere might feel. I'm a Latina myself and have over the years felt the incredible pressure from the Cuban community in the U.S. to agree with them on Castro. Everyone in this country has the right to say what they think and no employer or minority group should put any restraint on political views. Mr Guillen SAY WHAT YOU WANT!!, it's your right and personal business anyway!!

    April 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buriri

      Nora: As a Latina, can you state to the national media that you admire George Zimmerman or that the Holocaust never happened? Are you OK with the pressures from the black and jewish community?

      April 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. vb

    I am Cuban by birth and cultural upbringing but also proudly American after 50 years in my adopted country. I don't think anything he said was wrong but I understand what the uproar is about...apparently, we are not allowed to have separate opinions about anything. It's too bad because Ozzie is not a terrible person and the "Miami Cubans" are not terrible simply because they think Castro is the devil incarnate...can't we just get along?

    April 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sandpen4

    Those who suspended Guillen for using FREE SPEECH to express his love for Fidel Castro are no better than Castro because they too are DICTATORS. Guillen had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO APOLOGIVE FOR. THOSE WITHOUT SIN OBVIOUSLY THREW THE STONES AT GUILLEN. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT'S WRONG WITH OUT WORLD WE HATE FAR TOO MUCH. WHY CAN'T WE LOVE CASTRO BUT HATE HIS IDEOLOGY?

    April 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Framer

    This is what he does, all the time. As a Chicago sports fan I can tell you that the Club can count on this every few weeks. He said Wrigley was full of rats aggravating Cub fans. Then started commenting on the Cubs problem with Crazy Big Z; that he could handle the crazy Cubs pitcher Zambrano implying the Cubs could not. On and on, he is like a baby

    April 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Don

    once a m0r0n, always a m0r0n. And he proves it, time after time.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Terry Moore

    1st Amendment......The principles contained within that Amendment are not to be applied on a "need to do" basis.... He did nothing wrong... There are people in this country who eulogize Adolf Hitler, and church people (Phelps and his ilk) who berave the families of fallen soldiers...and yet nothing happens to them.... Fight your suspension : They have no right to punish you for remarks made under the protection of the 1st..

    April 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandpen4

      I agree with you. It appears that Freedom of Speech applies only to those born in America and not the transplants. I hope Guillen sues the Marlins.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      once again, the first amendment or freedom of speech is only about the government punishing you for what you have said. it has nothing to do with a loud mouth baseball manager, who i love by the way, getting suspended for saying something stupid.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • arc

      You don't know what the First Ammendment means.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mtb312000

      How many idiots here are griping about the First Amendment? It applies to protection from the government, not your private employer!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • gremlinus

      Freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment protects you from punishment by the government. It does not protect you from social and economic consequences, especially in the private sector.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • vahellbilly

      Agreed, this guy did nothing wrong. He just voiced his opinion, God forbid such a thing!!! In fact we (as in the US Gov) supported various dictators in the Caribbean, Central and South America during Castro's tenure in Cuba and that was quite OK???

      Who cares if Cuba is Communist... We've lost out on a lot of hemispherical influence (the good kind) due to being anti-communist. The dictators I mentioned above were not communist, agreed. They were more aligned with being self-appointed nationalists with US blood money and they were very brutal, cruel and inhumane to their people and country's.

      This is one legacy the US should be ashamed of...

      April 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RogueAries

    So would there be this much up roar over ozzie, if he said he loves Basher Al Assad?

    April 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. South Florida Free No More

    The South Florida Cuban community has made It clear they've become what they claim to despise and wish to overturn. Sadly you've proven that you have no true allegiance to this republic.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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