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. sbp

    Ross, explain how his First Amendment rights have been violated? A thousand bucks says you get it wrong.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ajtoos

    Can we all just agree to stop using the phrase "freedom of speech" unless you have at least an elementary understanding of the bill of rights.....or would that be a violation of "freedom of speech"?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Truth

    Why would any American give praise to Castro, " Ah yeah he is one hell of a dictator". Yet another dumb manager/jock with money popping off at the mouth. If you love Castro why don't you go to Cuba and start a team their, maybe they can win the world series 6 decades in a row. Gullen was at Saddam Huessien's private funeral 😉 . 5 games, boo hoo, why bother, he gets to attend the othe what, 157 games?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jack

    Imagine being punished for execising your right to free speech in America. Wow, it is just like Cuba.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. red blue and white

    Cubans are so arrogant big time!!! If Castro wouldn't had last in power for so long, all cubans where still be eating bananas back in their island, so to all cuban: "Be apretiated to Castro"... Otherwise all cubans will be in another island like the rest on the caribean, perhaps Domincan Republic or Haiti or even less.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • School you

      Are you serious? First of all, learn how to spell. Next, go back to your history books and see where Cuba was in 1958 just before Castro crawled out from under his rock. Such blantant ignorance!

      April 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. red blue and white

    Can anybody tell me where all cubans in Miami will be if Castro wouldn't be in power? Stop being so arrogant and let anybody express itself the way they most desire. By the way, does the team's name is Florida Marlins or Los Marlins de Cuba? Don't forget this is America folks.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • School you

      If Castro were not in power, they would be in Cuba because there would be no reason to be here. Trust me, many did not come here by choice, nor because they thought it might be nice to abandon life as they new it simply on a whim. They came here genius, out of sheer desperation (much like the pilgrims) and to seek real freedoms (political and religious). Guillen expressed himself (as is his right) and, subsequently, the Miami Marlins (the ones who pay him) expressed themselves.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ajtoos

    Why do I get the feeling that most of you out there posting "free speech" arguments for this case at the same time support "hate speech" regulations, "university speech codes", silencing talk radio hosts, etc. Does your brain hurt from the inconsistent knots of illogical connections? If his "free speech" was not in support of a communist dictator would you even be interested in this story?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gg

    i,ll bet most of the whining is coming from the great defenders of free speech the republicans

    April 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. menoc

    I do not support Fidel Castro in any way shape or form BUT . . . I can't help but believe that the policies of the US government and the Cuban exile community in South Florida have cause just as much damage and harm to the people of CUBA as the Castro regime itself!!

    I am going to put it simply. In a hypothetical hostage situation, how do law enforcement negotiators deal with hostile situations? They negotiate because they know that lives are at stake. So the question is . . . is it more important to save someone's life, or is it more important to stand your ground and allow the innocent to die? This is the situation in Cuba today. Our policies are killing Cubans today through economic starvation. The Cuban exile community has put their hatred of Fidel Castro above the well being of the Cuban people. We only had one chance to free Cuba in the 1960s but now it is too late! The Castros are going nowhere, anytime soon. We must open our markets and allow the Cuban people to prosper – Perhaps, prosperity might be the only way that political change will ever come to Cuba.

    April 11, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rico

    Im Cuban and I didnt feel Offended by what he said, hes an adult man and can RESPECT whomever he wants to for whatever reasons he wants, who u chose to respect or not should NOT have to be approved by your employer first, this is America.. we all should not have to share the same views.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. Pedro

    If this guy had made a critic to Goldman Sachs instead of Castro should he apolegized ? G.S. had harmeful millions of people all around the world. Much more than Castro. It's a shame that in America there are some sectors of opinion that work like an "Holy Inquisition" about that kind of subject. Castro had made lots of bad things (some of them maibe to protect is "regime" from atacks of "western world freedom champions") but he had made a lot of god things to Cubans: Healthcare; Education, etc. We should think of that too!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Castro is and always has been a tyrant. His regime has used murder to quell the people. If you think that Castro has done so much good, you should move to Cuba.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Castro has done far less to injure America than Goldman Sachs, but you would have to know about how the banking systems in the US works, which most do not. The reason is the bankers own the media outlets and only talk about thing like Castro VS those with the power to create money, which is a far more powerful force in the US than is Castro. But this is how they stay in power, by getting fools to think that Castro is the bad guy and GS is the good guy. To date I do not recall Castro ever needing a trillion dollar bailout for crimes against every single US Taxpayer. But again, you would have to understand banking and most can barely keep up with American Idol. At least Guillen only mentioned Castro, if he had bad mouthed Israel he would have gone to jail. FREEDOM....

      April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzannd

      Anyone hear of freedom of speech..........even if you disagree with what that person is saying??

      April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • randy

      not surprised. is people like him that put chavez into power. but when the sweetness of capitalism hits them. is a different story.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. brianperry

    Once again, Americans with their heads up their bleep when it comes to ANY leader outside of their limited views. Castro is a hero to many people outside of America for the simple fact he stood up for what he believes in and through out Americans who were overrunning his country with corruption. Good for Guillen, too bad he was pushed into a corner to apologize for something he believes in.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. Slim Straight

    Till next time Ozzie...O and there will be a next time...I guess your foot is tasting pretty good by now. Adios'

    April 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. J. R. Roberts

    The U.S. Government and American businesses have dealt with China for years and no one seems to care that Mao and others starved and/or outright killed millions of Chinese people. Not recognizing and dealing with Cuba is just insane. It's time for the 80-somethings to get over it. Fidel is a dictator – who really cares?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Castro does not buy T-Bills or sell us cheap crap we don't really need, China is all about it. We love certain communist and hate others, just like we love one type of freedom fighter and lable the other type as terrorist. It is all the same and it is all well organized by the people who have the power to create money. Create Money...think about that. Then ask yourself, if you could just create money, how much would you create? Bill Gates is worth something like 50 billion. The Rothschild family is worth something like 500 Trillion. One has the power to create money, can you guess which one? So much for Guillen's freedom of speech.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Glidemaster

    Since when can you lose your job or get suspended for voicing a political opinion in the USA? This is just pandering to the South Florida cubans.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
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