Perhaps unaware of just how powerful his words were, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen tried to convince baseball fans everywhere just how sorry he was for professing an admiration for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
His MLB team suspended him for five games on Tuesday, and the often-cantankerous Guillen – no stranger to suspension – tried to explain his comments a few hours later.
“I’m sorry that I hurt a city, a country,” Guillen said, CBS Sports reported. “I hurt the community without any intention, but I did it. Not only Cuban Americans, but all the people outside the United States, Latin Americans, Venezuelans, people from Nicaragua, Panama and if I forgot somebody, I would like to apologize. … I feel like I betrayed my Latin community.”
The 48-year-old Guillen, who was born in Venezuela, said in a TIME Magazine article he admired the Cuban dictator for remaining in power as long as he did.
“I respect Fidel Castro,” Guillen was quoted as saying. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that (expletive) is still here."
More from GlobalPost: PETA punks Miami Marlins
Dan Lebatard’s parents fled Cuba for the United States.
Now an ESPN commentator and Miami Herald sports columnist, Lebatard said Cuban Americans remember with great clarity how oppressive the Castro era was.
“This is the worst possible thing Ozzie Guillen could have said,” Lebatard told ESPN. “For Cuban Americans, Fidel Castro is our Hitler. … There are very loud, and influential and emotional Cubans who have had their childhoods stolen, who have had relatives imprisoned, who have had family members on firing squads that disapprove of Fidel Castro.”
Guillen left the Marlins in Philadelphia to return to Miami and speak with reporters. Earlier in the day, the team announced its suspension.
He was less than a week into his new job after leaving the Chicago White Sox – where he won a World Series – for Miami.
The team had completely rebranded itself, changing from Florida to Miami Marlins with a massive new stadium (complete with fish tanks) and new colors to reflect the city’s Cuban influence.
“The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized, especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship,” the Marlins said in press release announcing the suspension, the Miami Herald reported.
In an attempt to explain his comments, Guillen said he couldn’t believe Castro was still in power, and that he doesn’t share Castro’s political views.
“It was misinterpreted by what I mean in Spanish,” Guillen told the Herald.
MLB has suspended Guillen many times for profanity-laced, post-game tirades.
Guillen has also landed in hot water for comments about homosexuality, illegal immigration and even divisive Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Herald reported.
More from GlobalPost: Old problems plague new India