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. sandpen4

    The Marlins were WRONG to SUSPEND GUILLEN. This is still America, THE LAST TIME I CHECKED, and we do have FREEDOM OF SPEECH. But I guess THOSE WITHOUT SIN SUSPENDED GUILLEN. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR WORLD, WE HATE FAR TOO MUCH. GUILLEN YOU HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. YOU DID EXACTLY WHAT JESUS INSTRUCTED YOU TO DO. FORGIVE SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      @sandpen4 – please fix your "caps lock".

      April 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JR

      WIth all due respect, there is no Jesus in the religion of Baseball. Otherwise I agree.

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

      I can't believe so many people have no idea what "freedom of speech" actually means.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    Ozzie has the right to free speech, but it shows an amazing level of ignorance on his part to say that when the team he manages is located in the city with the bulk of the Cuban emigre population. He needs to edit his words, something he has now hopefully learned ( a skill he never learned in Chicago). All the same, its a pity that a group that still enjoys favored status in this country ( thanks to Castro) is able to dictate to others what they can say and feel. As the son of immigirants, I also find it annoying they still get to become citzens in 1 year instead of 5, and they are given green cards without virtually any questions asked.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sandy

    Suspend him for remarks he made about a private view? This is as wrong as anything. Castro might do the same thing. Think like you are told to think, or risk losing your job? Ridiculous. Cuban American sensitivites aside, Castro did overthrow a very repressive dictator, supported by the U.S. He brought education and healthcare to millions of poor peasants with no hope. If conditions are bad in Cuba it is in part due to the US blockade that has limited investment and growth in that country, even while we accord Communist Viet Nam and China, favored nation status. It's hypocritical and wrong. This man has nothing to apologize for. He's right. Castro is a survivor and while his government is repressive, it is no more so than dozens of countries around the world. This is America, however, and a man has a right to speak his opinion without risking losing his job!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tina

    So if you disagree with the U.S.' stance on Cuba, you get suspended? No one can voice an opinion contrary to the big American machine? In my books, that makes the U.S. and the MLB as restrictive as Cuba! Ridiculous!!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • mensarino

      I agree with you 100%. I can't believe that such a suspension can be upheld.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Charles

    He's bending over for the gusanos? Hahahahahaha! They own him!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    First of all, it's quite feasible for something to have been lost in translation. The idiot reported behaved irresponsibly and self-servingly by going with what was probably a misquote.

    Secondly, there's no reason for a baseball manager to be on the record on a political matter, but I get that the reporter was probably trying to get a "personal" angle.

    Thirdly, and most importantly, for those who are "offended" you have to ask yourself who is in control of your emotions. You? Or Coach Guillen? Coach Guillen's remarks will not result in any harm to anyone's community.

    Fourth. There are multiple sides to every story. Not everybody views other countries the way Americans do. We love America. Some people in other countries hate America. They have their reasons. Venezuela and Cuba have a very different relationship than America and Cuba. Guillen is Venezuelan. His views are likely colored by his experience, the way yours is colored by yours.

    Additionally, the quote is obviously taken way out of context. Guillen should have more media savvy ... especially given the nature of his job ... but he was not expressing support for the Castro regime. He was merely expressing surprise that Mr. Castro has survived for so long, and noting his longevity in power despite serious obstacles to that longevity.

    Finally, the apology was a real apology imbued with genuine contrition. He said it. Folks got mad. He apologized. Let's move on.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. eagle11

    Isn't it sad that Ozzie became a citizen voluntarily of a country that has no freedom of speech. Someone is always going to be offended, get over it. This politically correct crap has got to go. The Marlins management should be ashamed of themselves along with the MLB commissioner. This isn't about anything other than $$$$$, they don't want to lose sponsors. Greed at it's finest.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • eagle11

      Well said eagle11, now stop it, you might offend someone.

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

      you're a fvcking idiot

      April 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • eagle11

      now, now, sparky.....lol

      April 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bates

    What's the big friggin deal!?!?! Why is everyone so uptight about EVERYTHING?

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

    Wait...so by voicing his opinion about a communist dictator he gets suspended...how is that not irony? lol

    April 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      He didn't get suspended for having an opinion; he got suspended for having the "wrong" opinion. If he had said Castro was a terrible person no one would have said a word.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. usa john

    when is it time to stop this bashing of Cuba, this has been going on for so long, we support vacations to Viet Nam, where we lost thousands of our men and women. what kind of threat is Cuba today? and what ever happendto free speech, you can say anything you want, but you will be fired if someone dosent agree with you, I miss George Carlin. the last voice of free speech

    April 10, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Duane Thomas

    be smart enought to stay away from commenting on certain things , people today have no common sense , Miami owners made a bad decision here gambling with Ozzie wasn not a good idea he's a accident waiting to happen

    April 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Andre

    haven't thousands of young American military personnel just die or get wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy there which I thought also meant Freedom of Speech and YET, not in your own country, even if it goes against the beliefs of a small minority of Americans. How Strange

    April 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JamieJ

      Seriously...the man gets suspended and has to beg for forgiveness because he expressed an opinion??? We used to look to the USA to be a bastion of freedom and free speech. Not any more. Do you remember the moment when you gave up that freedom America?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • @youignantdotcom

      I find it hard to believe you have truly "free speech" in your place of employment either.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • JH

      Last I checked, he hasn't been charged. He still has freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is about being free government punishment. It doesn't mean you can say whatever you want and be free from the consequences at your employer. His employer hired him as a direct appeal to the Hispanic community in Miami, of which there are many Cubans. They have every right to suspend him if they choose. Can any of you say anything you want at your place of employment? To your employer's customers?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. markiejoe

    What I want to know is, if Guillen had been political in the other direction and said that he despised Castro and everything he has done as the leader of Cuba, would he have received a five game suspension also?

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

    Communist fascist are laughing at America saying "LOOK HOW THEY TREAT THEIR SO-CALLED LIBERTY! THEY ARE NO LESS FASCIST THAN WE ARE!! HAHAHA!!"

    April 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • RH

      Then I went down the block and bought a loaf of bread,,, :/
      try again...

      April 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • terre08

      Learn the difference between fascists and communists.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      "communist fascists"? Put down the long neck and read the First Amendment or find a video explaining it.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Malavaina

    What ever happened to the freedom of speech?

    April 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • AW

      Since when does freedom of speech apply to private organizations?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
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