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. Don Jones

    Castro should be respected for freeing Cuba of the Mafia-USA subjugation. If not for half witted USA diplomacy, we would have relations with Cuba today. Miami is filled with Batista bum smoochers who have had way too much influence for far too long. Ozzie has nothing to apologize for. I guess free speech doesn't apply in Miami.

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

    Perhaps not a diplomatic thing to say, but too bad we live in a society where a man has to be suspended from his job for an expression of free speech in a democratic society. So what if he admires some aspects of Castro's life? Castro has many shortcomings as a leader and humanitarian, but many see him as an improvement over the corrupt Baptista regime, supported by organized crime and our government, which he replaced. He kicked most of the corrupt wealthy leeches and oppressors out of the country, perhaps something America should consider now as the under-taxed rich get richer as the nation's poor end elderly continue to get screwed!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • CP in FL

      Mike – free speech does not mean that you can say whatever you want without being disciplined by your employer. Freedom of speech only means that the government cannot arrest an individual for their speech, it has nothing to do with a private organization.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    Ozzie is a baseball player. Brilliant.
    If you can, study that countenance for a moment. Now, what do you expect?! The guy has a right to his opinion and you have the right to remove yourself and your family from this grotesque, vacuous, vulgar spectacle that contributes nothing of lasting positive value to your life. You may want to take the opportunity and do the same with the infinitely sleazy Hollywood crowd of “stars” who, in between dope, alcohol, and myriad outrageous depravities, still find some consolation with admiring some leftist criminal every now and then. Ozzie and the likes of him have the right to their opinion, just like you have the right to ignore them and to switch off the boob tube.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I suppose you'd prefer that everyone limit their enthusiasm to right-wing dictators like Pinochet?

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

    So why is it that we can have China make everything from major appliances and computers to fake dog poo but we can't even buy sugar from Cuba? China is an evil facist dictatorship that kills or imprisons their detractors, Cuba is an evil facist dictatorship that kills or imprisons their detractors. Why is China the favored dictatorship?

    April 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. winstonsmith

    Though I'll be the first to say that freedom of speech means the government can't do anything, not that your employer can't fire you, so this ISN'T a freedom of speech issue, still... who cares what he thinks? He should be allowed to have whatever opinion he wants. The United States allies itself with many terrible dictators (Islam Karimov, Yoweri Museveni) where's the outrage there? Both Karimov and Museveni are far worse than Castro. Why are Americans so scared of communism, it's a failed system that fails itself. There's no reason to fear it. What we should fear is laissez-faire capitalism which leads to tyranny in the 21st century (a world where corporations can have more power than governments), and we should focus on CHECKS AND BALANCES. You know, what divides us from "communists" and dictatorships, right?

    April 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ug

    Now you will keep you pie hole shut huh boy! LOL!

    April 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. FHTEX

    Guillen fired for priasing Castro ... a top model fired for saying the Ghadafi family was just a normal family ... a British member of the upper house resigned for criticizing Israel? I thought we were free in the West ... I guess that's why we have to respond anonymously on all of these comment blogs!.

    I'll one-up Guillen ... despite over 50 years of U.S. sanctions, Cubans have been at peace, unlike all other nations in Central America except Costa Rica. And, I would still rather be poor in Cuba than any other nation in Central America, except for Costa Rica.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sam Roth

    He gets drunk after every game? Yikes. I hole he doesn't get cirrhosis.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MannyHM

    If you have enough wealth and fame, be extra careful what you say especially if you can be easily disposed of.
    If you are beyond famous and notorious enough, you can even question the birth of the U.S. President and get away with it like Donald Trump.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sam

    This fellow is dumb as a door knob. You don't make those statements when your office is in the middle of Little Havana in Little Cuba – i.e., Miami – SW 8th Street and LeJeune Road! Yes, I am not a fan of Fidel Castro, but neverthesless I have always wondered how one could hold on to a dictatorship of such a small region when so many big countries like Soviet Union crumbled and ended their Communism. This fellow used slightly different words thats all.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jenky

    Speaking as a Cuban American, knowing Cuba's history and knowing full well what Castro has done, it boggles me that Guillen should receive such a "harsh" punishment for something that is true. For all the horrible things Castro has done, he has still been able to 1. captivate an audience with his words and 2. hold on his power for the last 60 years!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan Beem

      So much for having freedom of speech...

      April 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • joecool

      we've all lost our freedom of speech, here in America.What ever happened to "sticks and stone may break my bones but words can never hurt me." it's time to loosen up. You want to fire a person because he said something that's against you belief,not cause he hurt you.GROW UP ALREADY!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Keyser

    Everyone is so sensitive. With all the Cubanos playing here, Castro should have seasons to every stadium!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bryan Jon

    So much for freedom of speach...

    April 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ToxicTexan

      Whatever happened to freedom of speech? You don't have to like what he said but it should be respected as his opinion

      April 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Isn't it great that MLB and baseball teams are now censoring free speech. Did they forget about the 1st Amendment of the Constutution?

      April 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • aspblopm

      freedom of speech protects from actions of the Government. That's it.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew26

    Miami Cubans are obsessed with Castro like Jews are with Hitler. Move on. Here, I'll help you pack.

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

    In other news, the U.S. today signed energy and shipping deals with the Chinese and Russians. Later, how the Cuban embargo is holding up.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
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