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. Norm

    This is just stupid. Is Castro a menace that the world will be better without? Sure. But the reaction to Ozzie's comments is just silly. Its like the Sandusky child molestation case. Sure what he did was wrong, but do we really have to run around acting like we're more against it than the next guy?

    April 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • GJ Joe

      I think its even a stretch to call Castro a "menace".

      I know he's repressive in his own country...but he's no threat to any foreign nations.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joshua barnes

    so much for freedom of speech.....free until they don't like what you say.. so what that the guy likes Castro...i like cuban cigars and cuban food..terrible that this has to happen. give the guy a raise not a suspension. you are allowed to be a commie if you want to be...just saying!

    April 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. triman666

    Well so much for freedom of Speech. We may not liek what the man says but this is the United States and he has a right to say it. If you take away the freedom of speech from one man you take it away for all. Makes us no better than Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, China and 100 other countries. We are supposed to be the bastion of democracy and freedom. This action is just sad.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aaron

    Can someone get suspended for saying "I like Obama" or "I like Cheney"? If the answer is yes then justice was served.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. larry,oakland,ca

    This is just wrong – You can agree or not with his opinion of Castro. He should have the right to speak his opinion.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatahit

      What idiot would say that about Fidel Castro when his team represents a city with 30% Cuban Americans. It would be like the Yankees coach saying he respected Hitler. He may technically have the right to say it, but I would guess that he just cut his audience by about 75%. He hasn't heard the last of it. You DON'T insult your majority audeince and expect to survive with career intact. He has nothing between his ears!

      April 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jerry

    Ozzie did not explain himself well , sounds to me like he is a COMMIE LOVER ?

    April 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Micook

    Anybody who knows of Ozzie Guillen before this quote would know he says stupid $h!+ all the time! And I believe he meant to say he is in awe that the whole world has been waiting 50+ years for Fidel Castro to die from natural causes instead of taking a bullet to the head!

    April 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jaimeh

    At this time, boycott the Marlins sounds right ...if just to show their "management" how many supporters they REALLY have ...

    April 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. whatahit

    I was born and raised in Miami. In the late 1950s when the Cubans began fleeing to Miami, and a better life in America, they came with nothing. Everything wa taken away by Castro. I remember our next door neighbors had their store taken away by Castro and they left with nothing. Castro took everything but the clothes on their back. Many of my friends were refugees and I know first hand the trauma of fleeing their country and having everything you've worked so hard for taken away by a nut job with a quest for power. So there is a history there for most Cubans in Miami. It was not appropriate for Guillen to say what he did, anymore than it would be appropriate to say that he respected Hitler. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but we also have compassion and respect for our fellow Americans. Freedom of speech does not give anyone a right to hurt others. There are just some things you don't verbalize.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. micook

    I'm in awe that 50 years ago, JFK took a bullet with his name on it, and today, the world is waiting for Fidel Castro to die from Natural Causes!

    April 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time

      The Boss upstairs cartoon.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kmac

    So much for the freedom of speech. Sounds like something Castro would have done.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kirk

      Freedom of speech pnly refers to the government, not one's employer.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • kotter

      Congrats. Your country is now completely broken.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • tomicT

      well, when you hurt the Marlins' ticket sales....you gotta suffer the consequences! The Marlins don't care about freedom of speach or what have you.....it's ticket sales! TICKET SALES!

      April 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. david

    Thats terrible. This guy was fired as a football coach for expressing a political opinion???? Are we getting sicker as a society or what

    April 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Regis990

      What article are you reading?

      April 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kyle H. Davis

    I'm not a big supporter of Castro, by any stretch of the imagination... however...

    Isn't this America we are talking about? Crucify the guy in the press all you want, but suspended because of THAT?

    We are talking about Castro... While some might place him into the category of "monster", would this guy have been suspended for saying the same thing about say... the Chinese government?

    April 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cristobal

    Guillen is employed by the Marlins.

    He has the right to freedom of speech, just like we all do.

    But if I say something to upset my employer or shareholders at my company, then I should be prepared to suffer the consequences.

    Miami has a substantial Cuban population and a majority Latno populations, many who have fled Castro like governments in Nicaragua or Venezuela. He should have known that as a Manager of a team in MIAMI of all places his comments would be upsetting to most people.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time

      Cris, Ozzie should of just said it in Spanish...

      April 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jenny

    Freedom of speech is a pillar of American society, and spreading it is even reason for illegal war, but it is not afforded to its own citizens. Wow! What hypocrites americans are!

    April 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tia

      Perhaps you should take a high school course on American Government. Freedom of speech protects the citizens from censorship by the GOVERNMENT. A private employer is free to take action against an employee for stupid and offensive remarks.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
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