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. advocatusdiaboli

    The zealous anit-Castro ex-pat Cuban rich who got booted out with Bautista because of their greedy excesses are holed up in Miami and put pressure on the team to do this. It's because of them we never made peace with a tiny nation we tried to even invade, yet we've made peace with Vietnam, China, and Russia with far worse records. Hypocrisy at it's finest.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BOB

    Yawn.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Christopher Rose

    Wow. It appears the Cuban Exiles wish to set up the same kind of dictatorship they claim to be fleeing. If you speak well of the wrong thing or you don't suck up to the right opinion they will shut you down. All this does is reinforce the image of the Floridian Cuban Exiles of being the wealthy elite that used to rule the island simmering becasue their peasant serfs dared to rebel.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. phillybear

    Might as well burn the declaration of indepedance because it might offend a small group of immigrants.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Don

    Suspend a guy who spoke freely; but, do nothing to a guy who cheated & used banned substances?? Oh, and who also happens to be the reigning MVP...this game's administration and bureaucracy is seriously flawed!!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. piece

    It is ironic that cubans, who come here for freedom, feel free to take away the freedom of speech for others.
    Where was basebol when it chose to play its All-Star game in Arizona, where Hispanic Americans are being stopped and asked for citizenship "pape-ajs." Oh, basebol you are truly amazing. America's naptime.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. concordantmind

    Navigating these blog comments is impossible.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mtb312000

    I'd venture to say that most of the comments here show a fundamental misunderstanding of what exactly the First Amendment is. And I'd venture to say that with the electorate goes the country – hence, us...

    April 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mojo

    Amazing how many people think this goes under free speech....morons.......I can freely tell my boss I hate him and his company, and he can then freely fire me for saying it...PERIOD! Free speech jargon does not apply to the employee-employer relationship.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. David Crosby

    I doubt Bud Selig cares but I'm done going to Dodger games or Rockies games and I just cancelled a trip to Disneyworld for 9 people that cost Florida a little bit..I hope others follow...

    April 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JHL

      Touring with Stills and Nash?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BoricuaTex

    Apparently, in baseball they live by the same rules as in Cuba. No freedom of speech unless you kiss right-wing republican Cuban exiles in the pucker. What a shame!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jay

    What a sad commentary on freedom of speech in this country! I cant believe he was suspended over these comments. What a crock!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      Jay – Freedom of speech means that the government cannot arrest an individual for their speech. It does not mean a person can say whatever they want without repercussions from their employer.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff

    So....this man is being punished for sharing his opinion and thoughts.....is that not the same thing that those that are calling for his punishment cliam Castro does to his political opponents....irony.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. majicmahon

    Oly in America...I should say...the USA- (leave Canada out of this) can a guy like Limbaugh and Beck get away with so much more hurtful expressions to so many more people and yet, a stupid comment..or was it? I respect Castro for what he has been able to do with so little. Remember, there isn't another country that has has American sanctions on them for so long. Not to say assassination attempts on a leader. This is one thing I can't stand about the hypocracy of the US Gov't. Cubans who starve there are a result of these sanctions. People are starving in the USA too. Capitalists don't care.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Doc

    He called it the worst mistake of his life. With his mouth constantly in motion like it is, that's a pretty significant list to head up. What a tool. I'm just glad I don't have to see him in the AL Central any more.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
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