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. George

    Are the Marlins going to require all of their employees to vote republican also?

    April 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill

    And what if he really did love Castro? Would they have fired him??

    April 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. me

    I am disappointed in you Ozzie. not for speaking your mind, but for backpedaling. if the cuban-AMERICANS want to whine about a man having an opinion and speaking it outloud, they can go back HOME where they don't have to worry about offending anyone because they CAN'T speak their mind.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Here Here...I guess Ozzie thought he was in the US...fooled you no 1st amendment here silly boy!!!!!!

      April 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MJ

    You guys are all missing the point. When you're employed by a franchise or corporation, you're suppose to represent that place well, especially in the public's eyes. If I was out with a company badge on and company apparel on at a bar getting wasted and doing stupid things, I could and should get fired since I'm representing the company in a bad way. No different in thise case. Ozzie works for the Marlins and his comments reflect badly on the whole Marlins' franchise. Yes, there's free speach, but MLB franchises are privately owned and can fire somebody for something like this. He won't get thrown in jail because it is freedom of speach, but it doesn't mean your job can't be at stake.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      It's a sad day when you can't express an opinion for fear of losing your job....it's a yazzamazza kind of world I guess. You know that old saying "I'd rather live on my feet than die on my knees?" Some of us don't have the backbone for it now do we?

      April 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Praetorian

    Attention Miami nutjobs who still believe that Batista is going to rise from the grave on a white horse and lead them all back to 1958: NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! The Cuban revolution is fact, and won't be going anywhere anytime soon. And have any of the 'Miami Mafia' bothered to ask the people of Cuba what they think about Castro and the Revolution? The Cuban people didn't rise to the aid of an invasion force in 1961, and they will not rise to the aid of an American attempt to take over by whatever means today. As far as Ozzie Guillen is concerned, why should he not be free to express his personal views on a subject that has no relation at all to baseball, aside from the fact that Castro was a halfway decent minor league pitcher back in the 1940s?

    April 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Albertzinho

    Coward...that is what he is. The fear of losing money made this small man show how un-American you can be. America...land of liberty...unless you disagree with the system.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kwesoe

    It's called a "Gut Feeling." Guillen has been wishing to say this for so long and saw an opportunity to do so. Whether he apologizes or not, he finally got that feeling out of his gut. Radiance!

    April 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. PMJ

    It is so sad that this is what we've come to. Agree or disagree with anyone's statements but everything isn't "hurtful." We love to say we're a free society and then day after day accept BS like this as the right thing to do. As long as it's not liableous, we should be able to say exactly what we thing whether it hurts someone's feelings or not. Yes, we may face consequences of public opinion or anger of people who disagree with us but going after someone's livlihood because of their opinion is just too much. Owners have the right to do as they please but it's sad this is what they chose to do. Would fans really stay away from the ballpark because the Manager didn't spit on Castro? We just make life so much more complicated than we need to.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LStein361

    The thought police are out in force again. This guy better not think he can continue to have his own opinion especially if it's against the majority.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. j.e burton

    I admire CASTRO so what ? CUBAS don't run this country.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wake Up

    It must have taken effort to make this newsworthy and appeal to enough people's sense out outrage. That's good marketing.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CBR

    This man deserves to speak for himself. He should have the freedom to speak honestly without fearing this backlash. Baseball is a game, the people in the organizations are the players. This is not the political front either. Get a grip folks.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jheron

      Agree. He is allowed his opinion. Why should he be suspended for it? I am glad my job isn't able to punish me for non work related stuff such as my opinion.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jibbuh jabbah

    respect – "esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability"

    To have respect for Castro's ability to avoid assassination is something I have too. Too bad this guy has no backbone to stick by what he said.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    oh my gosh people... really? You can respect someone and totally disagree with them... You have to respect Castro's ability to keep power when 1/2 the planet for the last 60 years (including the US Gov) wanted him dead... to take offense as these comments shows how shallow people really are...

    April 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. aksurge

    Funny, I thought free speech was sort of our thing over here in the U.S.

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