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. CheBravo!

    He is also wrong saying that politics has nothing to do with sports. That's why his butt is suspended. When you play pro sports, your freedom of speech plays second to representing the establishment.

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

    Wow. Imagine what would happen if he actually did something wrong.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Montecore

    Sorry Ozzie, you are not allowed to have an opinion or express it. What an awesome nation the US has become...

    April 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. doe22us

    People defending Ozzie, its so easy when you are not on the other side of the fence, when you literally had to escape persecution or be killed,people who had relatives, family members, friends killed by Castro. Oh yes it is easy to defend Ozzie. If you dont know much about Cuban geo-political history please do us all a favor and stfu.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • ToxicTexan

      Not really caring about Cuban history. That's for Cuban's to worry about. I'm concerned about American's and their rights to free speech which are being trampled in the name of being politically correct.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. brian

    Castro was never a bad person, our government labeled him that after he refused to cooperate, and then the american public jumped on board because the public is ignorant. We have the freedom of speech as long as you don't say what you're not supposed to. what a crock of crap. any time someone in another country doesn't give in to our demands, regardless of how unjustified our demands might be, we label them a terrorist and then the public buys into it and supports a unjust war.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles F. Johnson Sr.

      This message is for brian. First, how old are you? Next, you need to find out some facts about Cuba past and present then you can spout off! Speaking of ignorant, brian you should look in the mirror!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. brian

    if you live in america boy you better be gung ho and agree with everything the government tells you or you will be fired from your job and hunted down like a witch by the willfully ignorant public.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Airyc

    Just end the embargo. What purpose is it really serving anyway?

    April 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mork

    great. now I have to hate the Marlins too. Freeedom of speeeeeeeech??!! NOT!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jimbo

    His biggest mistake was to take the job in the cesspool of Miami.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nellore Venkataraman

    Guillen said nothing wrong. Let the cuban lobby go to hell!!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Quincey9

    I don't agree with his politics and think that Castro is pretty much an a-s$ whole who has ruined countless lives, but I don't see anything wrong with expressing his opinions... and it has NOTHING to do with baseball anyway. It was the wrong venue to do so, but he has every right. This IS America... right?

    April 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      There are clear consequences for taking a stand against a US government policy. Speak against the US government and find your job and your wife's job on the line. We don't torture you directly, we just send you to a low income area where you will be beaten!

      April 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evskie

      George this has nothing to do with the U.S. goverment and everything thing to do with MLB and its fans. Nice try though!

      April 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • apstar

      That's exactly the point - what he said has nothing to do with baseball. Baseball players should just shut up about anything except baseball, and the same goes for actors mouthing off about anything not involving their niche of the entertainment world. What does a baseball player or actor have in terms of credibility involving Cuban politics? At least when politicians put their feet in their mouths, in generally costs them an election.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      As a person who has lived for 25 years in South Florida, I can say that the cuban exile community are a bunch of hypocrites. They claim to be all for freedoms but God help you if in Miami you dare to disagree with them. They will passionately attack you without mercy. They are little better than the Castro brothers they despise, when it comes to respecting differing points of view.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mac11

      Yes, it is America, but when you work for an organization, then say something that shames that organization, they have every legal right to fire, censure or suspend you. If you do not agree with their rules, you should not join that organization. He joined and must follow their rules or else.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ryan Beem

    Next... we round up all the communist sympathizers and put them in concentration camps.... That'll be real American!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan Beem

      and likely all our names are going down on the list!

      April 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Felipe Lopez

    Somebody has their panties up in a bunch. Apology not accepted nor expected, for a man speaking his opinion and the truth.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Charles Hilton

    I am sick and tired of every person in the public eye having to backpedal and apologize in our allegedly "free" society. And I would have much more respect for Guillen if he stood by his comments like a man instead of backing down like a wuss. So much for his being a tough guy.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quincey9

      here, here.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. VoiceOfReason

    ??? All he seems to have said is that he had to hand it to a guy who had escaped assassination for SIX DECADES. That's no small feat, ESPECIALLY when you consider one of the assassins was the USA! Politics be damned, you have GOT give the man some credit for that!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • bitorbite

      You know they say..if you dont have something good to say about someone..then you do have the right to not say anything at all....but maybe that is how true Americans do it.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
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