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. gdaym8

    This is a perfect example of "freedom of speech" being taken away from us...

    April 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      No, it is not an example at all. On your own, please figure out why it is not.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trader Al

      Absolutely Agree. He has the full Freedom of Speech and he can say and do whatever he wants....WAIT!! wow! it appears that the fans, members of the community, Cuban and other Latin American communities offended by his statements also have the same freedom of Speech??? and are voicing it???? what a concept!!! at the end the day the Miami Marlins Organization will have to decide what costs more and what hurts more....Tickets anyone?

      April 10, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cecilia

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      July 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. granitethunder

    Apparently you can't speak badly of a dictator who practiced murder, oppression, and the denial of human rights for 50 years, especially if one is associated with MLB. Hmmm who's right of free speech was denied in this case?

    April 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CBkd

    I find it sad that he has been suspended for saying he respects Fidel Castro, but if he say he thought the President of the US was an idiot there wouldn't have been a problem.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim Klimaski

    Guillen was correct in saying Fidel Castro deserves a lot of respect. There have been many positive changes on the Island since the revolution began. More changes to come as the revolution continues. Compared to the U.S., Cuban standard of living still has some way to go, but compared to the other islands and Central American countries, the Cuban people have a higher standard of living.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pilgrim1

    Totally disagree with Ozzie, but doesn't he have every right to voice his opinion?

    This boils down to pressure from Cuban Americans and MLB, and the need to protect ticket sales; and that is not reason enough to limit his freedom.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sam

    Pretty ironic that someone in the USA punished in his career for remarks unrelated to his career.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. clarke

    Maybe it is me, but what was so bad about his comment. I thought it had a bit of humor to it. I guess I am sick and twisted.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. PorkNBeans

    The good old USA at work.
    Wasn't suspending him exactly what they accuse Castro of doing?
    Thought so.
    The only problem with this incident is that he apologized. Cuba isn't that bad. People from every other country on the face of the earth travel there every day.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Denser

    Really? If saying "I respect Fidel Castro" is "the biggest mistake (Guillen has) made in (his) life so far" then he's quite the role model. Seriously, Cuban-Americans are the most over-represented political demographic in America. Sixty plus years of isolation and embargo and guess what... Castro is still there. As Mel Allen (TWIB) would say "how about that!"

    April 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Naji

    Respect for they enemy can never be a bad thing. Means you've taken the time to understand their postion and also analyze their mistakes. I think his apology is wrong. Castro is to be respected. Just like any other successful person. However, doesn't mean you have to love or adore them.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Caiha

    I'm certainly no Castro fan, but suspending him for saying that? Frankly it sounded like a blue collar humor style joke, you know, respecting a guy who can be an collosal dbag and get away with for six decades. Considering baseball is a blue collar sport, you'd think they'd have gotten that it was a joke. Also, even if he meant it, which I highly doubt, First Amendment anyone?

    April 10, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • teacher

      What you and so many others commenting on this article seem to not understand about the 1st amendment (AKA freedom of speech) is that it only prohibits the government from surpressing speech. The whole idea of the 1st amendment is that in a marketplace of ideas, the best ideas will win out while those that are "stupid" or "politically incorrect" or "offensive" will be shouted down, criticized and/or punished by the citizens who hear them.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • magnetar

      I agree. Seriously, suspended for comments that have nothing to do with baseball....ridiculous. People have a right to their opinion. Joking or not, shouldn't matter. He has a right to speak his mind. And he does have a point. Castro, regardless how he's treated people through out his life, HAS managed to stick around. That's not Ozzie's fault. He stated a fact and perhaps misspoke in his delivery of the comment. Being PC has been over the top for too long.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time

      Caiha, and that be sincere and down to Earth.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. j williamson

    Once again political correctness rules the day in the USA! I can recall a time when freedom of speech actually meant something in America and most people respected this idea even if they didn't necessarily agree with what was said.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • maggotfist

      Hyper Political Correctness,...THE NEW FASCISM.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Here is yet another example of free speech losing to political correctness.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • magnetar

      100% agree. It's so ridiculous in sports too. Someone makes a "mistake" with regard to something they say and what do we get in return? We get the canned PC speech with an insincere apology (not saying Ozzie was insincere – just speaking in general). People are not perfect. People will say something that comes out wrong or not the way they intended. We can't hold people to a standard of perfection. Everyone makes mistakes. That's how we learn.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rjolay

    Another American punished for having his own opinion... so much for free speech in Repub land.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. maggotfist

    Hyper Political Correctness,...THE NEW FASCISM

    April 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mitzie

    Wow...cannot believe that this man is being punished for this. He gave an opinion....he did not join Castro's party! How ridiculous.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
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