The Marlins announced that manager Ozzie Guillen would be suspended for five games, effective immediately. When he learned of the suspension, Guillen left Philadelphia where the Marlins are playing a series with the Phillies and flew back to Miami for a press conference.
In front of the cameras, the manager, who is in his first year with the club, was quoted by Fox News
It's a very sad situation because the ball club is playing pretty good baseball right now. It's very important for me to be with the club, but the decision has been made and I respect the decision.
I'm going to make everything clear what's going on. People can see me and talk. I've already talked to people. But I think it's the proper thing to see my eyes. They can see me and ask whatever question they want. I think sooner is better. Better for the ball club, better for me.
The trouble began on Friday, when Guillen gave an interview with Time magazine. As reported by Digital Journal
, Guillen told Time he loved and respected Fidel Castro because people have been trying to kill him for the last 50 years but he's still alive.
Miami is home to a large population of Cuban exiles who fled the island during Castro's time in power. Anger rose, demonstrations were planned, and there were calls to boycott the baseball team until Guillen either quits or is fired.
The Marlins began the 2012 season in a new ballpark, located in Miami's Little Havana.
The Miami Herald
reported protesters gathered outside Marlins Park where the press conference was held. Some chanted "Liar, liar," while one man held a two-sided placard. One side read "No excuses – fire him now" while the other side said, "Mr. Samson [the team's president], do you keep Guillen if he had said ' I love Hitler'?"
One woman said to the Herald,
We don't need a guy like that teaching our children that kind of behavior. I won't allow my children, grandchildren, to watch the games if he says.
After the suspension was announced, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement that was reported by USA Today
. It read,
Major League Baseball supports today's decision by the Marlins to suspend Ozzie Guillen. As I have often said, Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities. All of our 30 Clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and 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.
Comparisons are already being made to others in baseball who had made comments considered insensitive. As noted by Fox News
, the late Marge Schott, owner of the Cincinnati Reds was prohibited from carrying out her duties as owner for one year. Besides praising Hitler, she used racist and ethnic slurs to refer to players and business associates.
And Al Companis was an executive with the Los Angeles Dodgers in April 1987 when he was invited to appear on ABC's Nightline to discuss Jackie Robinson. When asked why there were so few black field managers and general managers in professional baseball, Campanis said blacks lacked the "necessities" to hold those positions. He was later forced to resign.
The suspension is seen by Guillen's critics as not enough.
Marlins bench coach Joey Cora has been named interim manager during the suspension.