Ex-Jay Gregg Zaun, now of Sportsnet, joined Bob McCown and Stephen Brunt to speak rather passionately on the subject of Yunel Escobar and Jays’ clubhouse culture during the six o’clock hour of Prime Time Sports on Tuesday– a segment which was followed by an instant classic of radio magic, as Alex Anthopoulos– berated for initially denying a request– briefly joined the program to discuss the matter, only to have his phone (presumably a Rogers device) experience some curiously-timed troubles just as McCown was turning up the heat.

Anthopoulos returned to the station Wednesday morning with Brady and Lang, better prepared and under less scrutiny than he’d faced the previous afternoon, and Paul Beeston spoke to Prime Time Sports on Wednesday evening to reiterate the club’s position. We’ll explore all of that this post, but for me the most instructive bit of chatter came between Zaun, Brunt and McCown– and that’s not necessarily so much because of what they said, which was alternately insightful and infuriating, but because of layers of crucial nuance that can be revealed by contemplating what they didn’t, or wouldn’t, as they veered gradually farther off the rails.

Zaun began in much the same place I was in Tuesday’s press conference wrap-up, bemoaning the curious messaging we witnessed. ”It was like they were all on a different page, and they didn’t have any time to prepare, yet they had a full day to prepare. And that was the best they could do?” he asked.

As I noted, the lack of coherence in the messaging really reflected worst on John Farrell, especially as he gave a flimsy explanation of how it was possible that nobody noticed the writing on Escobar’s face, suggested that it was his understanding that Escobar’s eye black messages were almost always uplifting (they’re not), and insisted that homophobia isn’t a problem in baseball, despite Escobar having acknowledged moments before that his now infamous phrase was in common usage among Latino players.

Yet as easy as it would be to skewer Farrell here, I think it’s only fair to point out that– while I don’t necessarily agree with the approach– the manager likely feels an obligation to protect his players and to not upset the clubhouse dynamic, which he may well have done by throwing them under the bus on any of those points.

I think it’s also clear it would have opened the manager up to some very harsh questions if he’d admitted homophobia was a problem in the game, and thereby his clubhouse. Simultaneously, it would have meant contradicting the message from Escobar that this is considered a benign phrase in many contexts, and commonly used in Latin America– in much the same way that similar phrases were far more widely tolerated in our culture not so very long ago, despite the fact that they were unmistakably known to be, at their most basic, very hurtful language– a point I think a lot of those so righteously outraged by this whole situation would do well to remember.

That’s not to excuse it by any, any means, but to remind us how far we’ve come and how quickly on this subject, and to admit that it was not long ago when I can recall hearing a person who’d called something “gay” offer nearly the exact same defence as Escobar gave, when called on it– just as lamely suggesting that it was benign, that it wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, that it wasn’t meant to be hurtful.

I certainly can’t be the only one to have this experience, and it’s… it’s just… as easy as it may be to be completely outraged by the nature of the translated language, I’m increasingly having a hard time wanting to bring the absolute fuckhammer down on a first time offender who is hardly the only player to have used that word, and who comes from a culture that has yet to, en masse, catch up with our understanding of what can and can not be tolerated in this realm.

In that sense I’m with Anthopoulos, who has been emphasising this as a moment to acknowledge and punish the stupidity of Escobar’s act, while mostly promoting education and awareness. It just cannot be as simple as dousing Escobar in biggot napalm and watching him writhe. And, I’m sorry, but part of me can’t help but also wonder how the nature of the reaction from some may have been different if this had happened during Escobar’s excellent 2011 season, and if so many weren’t ready to write him off anyway, because of his play on the field.

Zaun knows this– both about the language and about the quality Escobar’s play.

“The language and the words that are used in the confines of the clubhouse– in the sanctity of the clubhouse– can get pretty nasty,” he acknowledges. “It can be about as racist as you can possibly imagine, homophobic slurs get lobbed around at each other all the time. But that’s the nature of a clubhouse. It’s how men talk in the confines of a clubhouse. But in public we know those words to be unacceptable.”

What he’s doing here, apart from articulating an ugly, largely unspoken truth, is saying that context matters– which flies in the face of a lot of commentary I’ve seen.

As for Escobar’s play, Zaun says he agrees “100%” when McCown discloses that, if he were “the person encumbered on making the decision on the future of Yunel Escobar, he would have put on a Blue Jay uniform for the final time.” Yet rather than jumping straight to the incident as the core reason, we’re told that’s ”based on a couple of things: his play, his inconsistency at the plate, his overall lack of… consistency. He’s been an overall very inconsistent offensive player.”

I can’t possibly agree with letting Escobar’s poor season have any kind of bearing on one’s view of all this– and I’m not sure that’s what Zaun’s doing here, though he did make clear that he is no Escobar fan to begin with.

“I watch this guy play baseball on a day-to-day basis,” he explained. “I see the facial expressions, I see the body language. No doubt he’s talented, but he has a lot of growing up to do, as do several other young players on that ballclub.”

The former catcher kept rolling: ”People tell me he wears eye black with messages on it all the time. Isn’t that something you do in high-school? College? Unless it’s ‘I love Jesus,’ I’m thinking that’s just a little bit immature right there.”

Other than as a reason to get sanctimonious, I cannot comprehend why that should be such a massive deal, but Zaun referenced it more than once during the segment, pointing to it as one of many things that are emblematic of the much deeper problem he feels the club has.

“The atmosphere in this clubhouse and in this organization is consequence free,” he bleated. “Go ahead, play poorly for a couple of months, if your name is so-and-so and such-and-such, we’re going to cut you some slack. We don’t expect you to play the game properly. We don’t expect you to stand up and be accountable for your mistakes. It’s a consequence free environment.”

Zaun is not entirely wrong in that assessment– or especially in the examples he later gives of Brett Lawrie’s unapologetic baserunning errors, or Moises Sierra’s failure to have sunglasses forced upon him– but there’s far too much he misses as he continued to rail against what he claims he’s seeing from the Jays.

For example, while I– and anyone who has read Dirk Hayhurst’s books– understand the genuine, valid resentment that may be felt by 17th-round-pick Zaun for coddled prospects, it’s perhaps an uncomfortable fact of baseball life that the extraordinarily talented are going to get that much more opportunity to make good on their potential, simply by the underlying economics of value.

That sort of thinking– the processes behind allowing Colby Rasmus to play out the string last season– doesn’t gibe with old skool Zauner’s worldview– or, at least, the worldview of the Nick-Kypreos-of-baseball he seems to be striving to refashion himself as this season.

“This attitude like, well, we’ve just got to go out there and have fun– you know what? That’s a bunch of crap,” he says. “You know, it’s fun when you win, but this is a livelihood, this is a business.”

Escobar incident notwithstanding, I think it would be much easier to agree with what he’s saying about the “consequence free” culture if the club was playing anything resembling meaningful baseball; or if injuries hadn’t essentially stripped the club of any credible threat to take a player’s job away, which Zaun believes would have helped rein this supposed culture in; or if it weren’t entirely understandable why the club opted for a player like Rasmus to return in spring with a clean slate; or why Farrell may have elected not to be an overbearing disciplinarian for every single damn inning of all 162 games.

But that’s not at all to say that Zaun is entirely wrong. He says this of Lawrie:

“How many dumb mistakes on the bases is he going to be allowed to make before somebody sits him down and says, ”You know what, kid, maybe you should watch a few big league ballgames and see how big leaguers run the bases.’ The fact that he was unapologetic about the way he ran the bases and the way his baserunning errors probably cost the team an opportunity to be playing with the lead in the top of the ninth. The way he says, ‘This is the way I’ve always played the game, take it or leave it.’ Really? Are you going to sit by and accept that kind of nonsense?”

That’s bang fucking on– as is his later dumbfoundment at Sierra’s unfamiliarity with flip-up sunglasses. But where he loses me is when he tries to put those legitimate questions about accountability for in-game fundamentals and details into the same league as accountability for the manager not providing a daily examination of every player’s uniform accessories, like he ought to be acting as some kind of damn drill sargent.

Frankly, while it may be difficult to believe for many to understand how this message was able to walk out onto the field, I can empathise with the club’s position, especially after it was articulated by Anthopoulos during his Wednesday morning segment with Brady and Lang. Then, the GM pointed out that, while it may seem damning of the entire clubhouse that none of the Jays’ players or staff stopped Escobar from wearing the offensive text on his face, it’s not like any opposing players, umpires, reporters, broadcasters, or TV viewers noticed either. It was only when a fan with a high resolution camera zoomed in on a shot of Escobar the next day that it came to anybody’s attention. Nor did anybody notice some of the questionable expressions he had written on his eye black earlier in the year.

Zaun agrees that at least Anthopoulous deserves some slack on this, but not for the sake of damn common sense. It’s because “he’s not a baseball guy. He’s a sabermatrician. He’s a bean counter. He is the new era– this is a guy who was never a baseball player, he was never a coach, but now he’s making baseball decisions.”

That statement, of course, is made with the Kypreos-like insight of someone with not only the audacity to hold up Gregg “Blank Cheque to Jason Grimsley” Zaun as an ideal of professionalism, but also the intellectual dishonesty to act as though whatever disaster he thinks he’s seeing in the clubhouse culture is symptomatic of a non-ballplayer’s stewardship– as though Brian Cashman, Andrew Friedman, Theo Epstein, Jon Daniels, Brian Sabean, Dave Dombrowski, or the majority of current GMs, and a damn lot of the most successful ones, aren’t precisely what he’s railing against.

It’s crass, idiot empowering, conversation-dumbing meat-head populism at it’s finest, and entirely the reason anybody sane has lost faith in Zaun so quickly after welcoming him as a breath of fresh air last year. Yet… he’s not wrong here either:

“When you’re the general manager and you don’t like the way things are, you say something to the manager– and whether or not he agrees with you, that’s where debate happens. That’s where a manager and a GM are sitting in the office with the door closed, and the general manager is telling the manager, I don’t like the way things are being done around here. I don’t like the culture of this ballclub. Do you have anything to say about that? Is this your doing? Are you as upset with the culture of this clubhouse as I am? Do you feel like you cannot go to these players and say, ‘This behavior, this kind of attitude is unacceptable’? Are you afraid to hurt people’s feelings? Are you afraid to bench a player for poor performance, a repeated mental error– what is the culture we’re creating in this clubhouse?”

All that is completely fair to wonder, and something one hopes Alex Anthopoulos is thinking deeply about right now, but… I find it’s just so ridiculously easy for this kind of clubhouse stuff to be magnified immensely in the light of such a terrible season, especially when we know it would be easily explained away by another narrative were things going better. Frustrated fans eat this shit up, though, and Zaun Cherry seems happy to be there to shovel it to them.

And let’s not forget McCown on that front, either. The host railed particularly hard against Escobar through his entire show on Tuesday, which I found especially odd given his own experience– in very different circumstances– with being labelled a bigot, years ago, by Cito Gaston.

“I think you gave him the bare minimum. I’m not satisfied with this suspension,” he told Anthopoulos in the segment following Zaun’s. “I do not want to see this player in a Toronto Blue Jay uniform ever again. I do not want him representing the city of Toronto ever again. And anything less than that, I think, will be insufficient. If that sounds harsh, that’s fine. But this is not a casual comment, this was a thought-about, pre-planned decision by Yunel Escobar to do this. He had the opportunity to think about it, to execute it, to change his mind if he wanted to, and he chose not to. I don’t buy, and I don’t think anybody buys for a second the BS he was spewing at his news conference today about he didn’t mean to offend anybody. He meant to get that message out, and to offend somebody. Was it a group or an individual, who cares? But even if he didn’t mean to do it, he did it anyway. Alex, if you did that, under the terms of your contract and your employ with Rogers, you’d be dismissed, and so would I, and so would Brunt, and frankly, I don’t understand why this guy, right now, is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.”

Now, I don’t want to come off like I’m bending over backwards to defend Escobar, but this to me is mostly insanity. McCown is not wrong to point out that it would be grounds for dismissal had any other Rogers employee done such a thing– though Paul Beeston, in his segment the following day, admitted the like-it-or-not reality that these millionaire players are not simply the same kind of employee as most– but the core of what he says hinges entirely on the notion that “he meant to get that message out,” as though as though “that message” is entirely unambiguous.

The unfortunate truth seems to be that it’s not, and that such language is thought relatively benign, even by people who understand what the meaning is.

They’re entirely wrong to think it benign, of course, but it baffles me that so many sanctimonious fans and commentators could be so heavy-handed in their condemnation of a vile linguistic nuance of a culture that, if we’re being honest with ourselves, isn’t very different from where we were in the all-too-recent past, and in many ways still are, behind far too many closed doors (read a YouTube comment thread lately?).

Sure, Escobar has been in North America long enough to have damn well known better, but I’m sorry, if forced to decide whether I believe he is a hate-filled swine with full comprehension of our cultural standards who wrote a message of intentional bigotry on his face or a pampered athlete who, when here, has lived mostly in a bubble that’s kept him disconnected from our evolving social graces, I can’t help but kinda believe the latter.

“If you are mandated to give him a three game suspension, you are empowered with the privilege or the right, to decide that this guy will never put on a Blue Jay uniform again,” McCown pressed on. “Whether you have to pay him for the last twelve games of the season and act beyond that, you have that power independent of what the league or the Players’ Association or anybody else has to say–”

At this point, before the host could spit out his central question, involving why the Jays wouldn’t go, on their own, with a suspension beyond three decided-upon games for Escobar, Anthopoulos began answering, only to have his phone mysteriously cut out.

“We decided not to make that determination,” the GM explains. “You said you don’t believe it, you don’t care what he says, and ultimately for me to debate you on that, I’m not going to get anywhere going there, but–” and then he was gone.

But that wasn’t the end to this little bit of theatre…

Now, listening to the clip, before Anthopoulos was introduced on TSN Radio, we were told the time was 6:44 PM. That could certainly be a scheduled appearance, as he had been the guest during the 6:20 PM block with McCown. So it’s a bit rich to get overly conspiratorial with it. Clearly though, as was particularly evident from the more assertive posture he took the next morning with Brady and Lang, Anthopoulos wasn’t initially prepared for the tough questioning from McCown.

“Do you release him, do you trade him, do you suspend him for a year, do you suspend him for the season? Those are all things, to be completely candid, that went through my mind,” he claimed in reply to the morning hosts, setting the foundation of his adjusted PR defence.

“I think as we went through the process of all of it– we can come up with any adjectives: stupid, selfish, shameful, insensitive, which goes without saying– but I think, when it all came down, I think the culture– really not saying– this isn’t to discriminate or to point at any groups, but we had a lot of our Latin players talking about. Culturally, the way they communicate certain things and what words are said– I read something Ozzie Guillen had talked about: the word is used in his household every twenty seconds,” he explained.

“Now, obviously that doesn’t make it right, because we don’t play in Latin America, we play in North America, we play in Canada and the United States, and we have players from all different cultures, but you can’t bring things that aren’t accepted in our cultures– that goes without saying. What’s glaring about all of this is the lack of education,” he continued, hammering on what I agree is the key point. “I think that’s what this comes down to. And as angry as anybody wants to be, it’s stupidity and it’s a lack of education, and it’s on us.”

“This is not the only player that’s used that word,” he elaborated. “Obviously writing it on his eye black is, for lack of a better word, stupid– or maybe that is the right word. But I don’t think this is about clubhouse culture.”

Yes, with such phrases he’s clearly cutting his attackers off at the pass, so maybe there’s reason to see cynicism in his words. And there’s still something amiss about the way the clubhouse failed to handle this internally and passed the buck somewhat when it became public. But for me there just isn’t enough of a case to be made, without wild assumptions and pathological nitpicking that ignores a lot of broader context, that it’s time to burn whatever’s left of a rancid clubhouse culture and turn our heads away until the smoke clears. And maybe Anthopoulos is not throwing himself, or Escobar, down at our feet for flagellation the way some may feel is satisfactory, but I don’t think that, or anything else, makes him necessarily wrong here.

“I don’t believe one person’s bad judgement means we have a bad clubhouse,” said Beeston when it was finally his turn on the mic. “And I don’t mean just bad judgement, I mean egregious bad judgement.”

That last bit, at least, we can all agree on. The rest, obviously, is still terribly muddy, even if I feel I’m finally starting to kinda grasp where best to come down on all this.

Comments (227)

  1. Nice Post Stoeten…articulately said.

    • Seconded. Very well written and considered. Your long form posts (columns?!) from my view are getting quite good at leaving me musing over the content, rather than beating me over the head with an opinion in the first paragraph ala The Sun or Star.
      After AA’s and Z’s post interviews, I’m actually more squeemish about how this has all gone down and what this means for next season.

  2. this is pretty a reasonable treatment.
    more reasonable than parkes’ “i don’t want him in toronto. or miguel cabrera, for that matter.’
    how does it feel to be aligned with bob mccown on that?

  3. About time someone in the media world called out Lawrie…everything Zaun said of him is dead on. The way he acts is a fucking joke if you ask me (I know, nobody did). How do you not own up to 100% your fault mistakes that cost the team opportunities? Grow the fuck up. I also always find it humorous to think back to the “interview” him and JP did in ST when he was hitting like .650…they were so cocky and now look at the two of them. It’s karma I tell you, karma!

    • After we shit on him for the helmet incident the reaction was overwhelmingly negative, so I’m not entirely surprised.

      • You lost me, sorry haha.

        • Sorry, I just mean that we– Parkes, mostly– shit on Lawrie after his helmet incident, and took a lot of shit for it, so I guess I understand the impulse most people have to pull punches when it comes to the Golden Boy– and I agree, good on Zaun for not.

          • I always find it funny when I read stuff like this. Maybe I just don’t read enough “mainstream” articles idk. Whenever Lawrie is shown on screen (Even when he’s not) my twitter feed blows up ripping him apart. I noticed since his call up last season that DJF and GB seem to dislike him a lot. When helmet gate went down I saw nothing but negative comments about him. To be honest, I wish AA would trade him because I’m so sick of reading shit complaining about him.

    • Its simply the culture of entitlement that so called “jocks” grow up in. Remember in school, as far back as you want, when the kid would get special treatment because he could throw a ball better than anybody else or skate faster than everybody. In Lawrie’s case I simply think he believes all the bullshit that fans and media throw on him and who are we to question that.

    • Pathetic. Lawrie’s a kid with a lot of energy. He did NOTHING wrong in that helmet incident. He got over-amped and went loose. Tottaly fine.

      • By the way, everyone who always tries laughably to call me an apologist for this team, this is what an apologist looks like,

        • It”s the 4 Red Bulls before the game I tell ya.

        • What the fuck are you idiots talking about? When Lawrie did the helmet incident Jays fans rejoiced and united in the energy that someone finaly dispalyed on this club. We went through years of Shawn Green types who marched out like zombies and had no personality. YES, Lawries celly was over the top, immature and impulsive but if you tell me you wern’t smiling watching it then you’re a fuckin liar.

        • What the fuck are you idiots talking about? When Lawrie did the helmet incident Jays fans rejoiced and united in the energy that someone finaly dispalyed on this club. We went through years of Shawn Green types who marched out like zombies and had no personality. YES, Lawries celly was over the top, immature and impulsive but if you tell me you wern’t smiling watching it then you’re a fuckin liar.

        • What the fuck are you idiots talking about? When Lawrie did the helmet incident Jays fans rejoiced and united in the energy that someone finaly dispalyed on this club. We went through years of Shawn Green types who marched out like zombies and had no personality. YES, Lawries celly was over the top, immature and impulsive but Stoeten, if you tell me you wern’t smiling watching it then you’re a fuckin liar.

        • What the fuck are you idiots talking about? When Lawrie did the helmet incident Jays fans rejoiced and united in the energy that someone finaly dispalyed on this club. We went through years of Shawn Green types who marched out like zombies and had no personality. YES, Lawries celly was over the top, immature and impulsive but Stoeten, if you tell me you wern’t smiling watching it then you’re a fuckin liar.

  4. Maybe context does matter with what Escobar did, but blaming it on clubhouse culture is reductive and irresponsible. Clubhouse/locker room culture is arguably the reason why there hasn’t been an active ‘out’ player in the big four North American pro sports. Really, I’m more offended by Farrell’s suggestion that homophobia isn’t a problem in baseball and Zaun’s “boys will be boys” defense of locker room culture than what Yunel did.

    • Lol if you’re offended by ANY of this, you really need to go get a life.

      • You are welcome to think that, just as I am welcome to think that you are an idiot and part of the problem for not caring.

        • I agree with you Dave… not that I blame Farrell for this incident(and I don;t think you do either) but that it is a broader issue with clubhouse culture in sport.

        • I am part of the problem and I don’t care.
          If a gay athlete wants to come out, let him. You might be surprised to find that nobody in the locker room actually cares either.
          To suggest that none have done so due to “Clubhouse/locker room culture” is reductive and irresponsible. See what I did there?
          You are a twat and should change your handle to Manuel Lee or some other weak-wristed non-entity. Dave Stieb is too much man for you.

          • Ooh, onto gender-based insults within 4 sentences. You are really a macho man. I applaud your virulent display of hegemonic masculinity. My limp wrists couldn’t hold the heavy gravitas of that statement.

          • You are obviously already using your weak hands to thumb through a Thesaurus. Big words are for small minds.

          • Hahahaha that’s cute. I’ll leave you alone now because I’m sure you probably have some homework to do since you are 12 years old.

      • Stoeten I’m not saying the issue isn’t worthy of conversation, or that what he did was right. But to say you are personally offended by it all? Lol give me a break, get out from behind the computer screen and go live your life.

  5. Please….no more coverage of Escobar.

    You’d think he’d murdered Nelson Mandela or something.

    • This is, of course, the absolute worst attitude to take of all.

      No, let’s talk about this. It’s important.

      • Hasn’t the lesson been learned by now? Let’s get back to baseball chat. The sensitivity training here was interesting, and a valuable reminder but lets move on – its time. Maybe a BJ victory would be the tonic we need to get back to why we are here.

      • Yes, lets make mountains out of every molehill we stumble across.

        • Stick to baseball, Stoeten. Self-righteous pontificating doesn’t suit you.

          Leave that to Parkes.

          • Stick to phrases you understand, Jaymz. Trying to use “self-righteous” doesn’t suit you.

      • I didn’t say don’t cover it, I said no MORE coverage. Just let it be over.

      • No, it really isn’t important.
        We all know it was a stupid act from what is most likely, a stupid baseball player. He shouldn’t have done it and most likely won’t do it again.
        Somebody got offended…stop the press!
        Can we move on now?

        • I’d also like to point out that as a “meathead”, I am offended by your hurtful suggestion that I somehow empower idiots. I demand a retraction. Meatheads are people too!

      • Seems odd that a blog riven with abusive, mean-spirited interchange where people are called fucktards (offense to the mentally handicapped) and told not to get sand in their vaginas or their panties in a bunch (sexist) all of a sudden gets to piously politically correct about a homophobic comment. The hypocrisy is kind of comical

      • Frig Stoeten you dirty faggot. Stop with the Escobar stuff. Yeah, it happened. Now it’s done. Newspapers take one side or the other. We’ve heard both sides. Who cares? Is Escobar an idiot for putting those words on his face? Yes. Keep it in the clubhouse. This name calling happens all the time at every level. GUESS WHAT? It will always happen. Stop trying to change the world through your little blog and just talk baseball

  6. Good write up.

  7. One thing to point out, the producer of PTS tweeted this minutes after AA “hung up”:

    “Anthopoulos did not hang up on PTS. He called back immediately but we were in a break. Not a conspiracy.”

    If I remember correctly, the other thing is that his phone wasn’t doing so well early in the interview. There were a few moments where it was hard to tell what he was saying. I’d have to go back and re-listen though.

    • Must have been a Rogers cellphone.

      Faulty as usual.

    • AA had gotten through a 2nd time for like 20 seconds, iirc, before the phone crapped out for good. I did laugh though, when I heard him through the static of the car radio (fuckin’ weak TSN signal) on Cybulski’s show. Just the nature of a busy day for AA trying to give equal air time to the two biggest home market media monstrosities.

  8. If someone would have told me when pre-season ended that a post like this would be written as the season concludes – I would have laughed pretty hard. And yet here we are. Sigh. Trying to remain optimistic.

  9. Reading what Patrick Burke has been saying the last couple of days: that the community which should most offended (the gay community) has generally come down on the side of restorative justice and reconciliation andt hat some members of the straight community (presumably Zaun and McCowan)come down on the side of punitive justice speaks volumes.

    Why would Escobar, had he been as severely punished as Zaun and McCowan want, ever change his attitude toward gay people? He would probably feel resentful and we would be no closer to a more accepting society. We would not be bridging mainstream Latino culture with more-or-less mainstream Canadian culture.

    We would be failing our future (not intended to sound so grandiose)

    • Bang on JP

    • +1 Well said.

      • nailed. McCown and Zaun are not taking a long view here. A purely punitive response doesn’t necessarily get you closer to where you want to be.

    • The gay community is fortunate to have Patrick Burke in a leadership role, and so are the rest of us. He helps educate all of us, and elevates the discussion.

      • Well said JP, TM, and SP…we can’t really fault a leniant three game suspension (with more focus on education/enlightenment), when that is what is being advocated for by GLAAD and others that represent the segment of the population that would reasonably be the most offended by this incident.

        McCown’s holier-than-thou attitude shines through again…

    • Yet another example of self-righteous “humanists” infantilising groups of people by “coming to their defence”. Sad. For a first offence, you say, “Hey, Yunel. Don’t do that. Here’s why.” For a second offence, suspend him. For a third offence, release him. How hard is that, really?

  10. Wow, this is a fantastic post. Excellent deconstruction of these recent events.

  11. Ill never listen to Zaun or McCowan again. They have their own agendas. Too busy being edgy to even properly ask AA any questions. Pompous old men working on a dying medium trying to sell Home Hardware trinkets.

    • I am having a really hard time listening to PTS after Tuesday’s show. It was awful, just awful, in my opinion.

      The only thing I have ever liked about Zaun on TV is his segments where he talks and shows baseball plays. His insight and analysis is terrible.

  12. Zaun Cherry …. hahah

  13. Great post Stoeten, very well thought out. However, on the Lawrie matter, isn’t the best way for him to learn by playing every day, and making mistakes and improving because of it? If he runs into an out one day, he doesn’t need to act like his dog died, he just needs to know not to make that mistake again the next day.

    • The notion of a prospect ‘playing every day’ is that it’s important for players to develop to the acceptable behaviors of MLB players. Failing to hold players to account when they mess up is akin to letting them tear the ball in Vegas (or Buffalo – woohoo!) and miss the day-to-day of the big leagues. Benching a player who isn’t playing with the appropriate level of seriousness or professionalism is the absolute correct thing to do.

    • Well, the problem is he does that the next day too

    • True. He does make it the next day though. And then all the other days afterwards. I like his aggressiveness and feel that the times it is advantageous (rushed throws, breaking up/staying out of DPs, taking the extra base) are harder to quantify and stick out less vividly than his brain farts. Overall the good probably outweighs the bad, but doesn’t entirely justify the obvious boners.

    • The problem is (and for once I agreee with Zaun) that Lawrie doesn’t appear to be learning anything. Same dumb mistakes over and over. And he’s turning into Agro Ichiro.

    • I think the completely unapologetic, “this is how I am, deal with it” attitude is what’s probably most concerning.

      • It’s concerning because it doesn’t appear to have any consequences. In that Zaun is right. Lawrie has made a number of base-running errors, not just one or two. If Farrell has spoken to him about this, and if he continues to run the bases like Chuckles the Clown, he should be punitively benched. Yes, he’s a big star and a high draft pick and a Canadian, but the team won’t win while he does his Look At Me act 24/7. His job is not to promote himself. His job is to help his team win. There has to be accountability for that and so far I haven’t seen much.

      • And you get idiots like Buck martinez saying things like “Thats how he has always played the game, so they can’t change that now”.

        Yes, you can. Thats why you have coaches even at the Major League level. The Golden Boy has been touted too high at too early a stage that it has almost become akin to a racial slur to suggest anything negative about him.

        • Obviously to say that it can’t be changed is ridiculous, but maybe our expectations are still a little too high. Lawrie is still a 23 year old kid who hasn’t even played a full season in the majors yet. The way he plays means that it might take him longer to learn to stop making stupid mistakes on the base paths, in the same way that it’s taken him a very short time to become an elite defensive third baseman. And to say that he’s not trying to improve because he doesn’t give a good post-game interview is a bit nitpicky. So what if he doesn’t say exactlyyyyy what we want him to say?

          As a comparison, was their a clubhouse problem when a 25 year old Alex Rios made idiotic baserunning mistakes, and never seemed to learn from them?

          • *there

          • We need to stop calling 23 year-olds kids for fuck sakes. Most of us were moved on and out when we were 18-20. He’s immature, no doubt, but thats a character flaw, not an age thing at this point. You take away all the credibility of someone who is below a certain age and is acting + his years. I dont think it’s fair to blanket anyone under the age of 24 because the “Golden Boy” got all pissy pants when he was tagged out at second. Everyone is a critic these days, and for some reason, just feels tired of trying to be politically correct all the time about everyone and everything. Face it, he’s a whiny grown-up who yells at people in grocery lines to hurry up, and honks at kids walking slowly across the street.

            As for the Rios thing, he lived almost the same lifestyle that Escobar does, he’s Yunel first, a Blue Jay second. Sort of the “they pay me that much so I must be fucking amazing, and everything I do is fantastic” attitude. Atlanta finally laughs last, I hate (see what I did there?) those guys…

          • @mspitz

            When I was 23 I had a husband, a kid, a house and a job. Nobody said ‘oh let’s give her a break because she’s just a kid.’ I had to work damn’ hard and so I suspect did a lot of the posters here. Lawrie gets a break because why? Because he has great potential? Big deal. All the potential in the world doesn’t translate to much if he can’t learn some discipline. As for Rios, the cosy Jays clubhouse didn’t just happen this season. It’s been far too snug in there for far too goddamn’ long. And Rios benefitted from it.

      • I still don’t understand how these reply threads work, so I’m going to reply here…

        @isabellareyes and J2thaAmes

        I’m not talking about Lawrie as a person, I’m talking about him as a baseball player. As a person, yes I agree a 23 year old is an adult, and should act like one. In this regards, I’m not sure Lawrie and Escobar haven’t done that (helmet-tossing and eye-black incidents aside). For several years we’ve heard that these players have had attitude problems, but I never heard anything negative until the Jays started losing. Seems kind of coincidental to me…

        As a baseball player though, Lawrie still has alot of developing to do. Yes, he’s very talented, and should be a star for many years to come, but once again, he’s still very young. He makes a mistake, Farrell or another coach (or a veteran player) talks to him about it, he doesn’t make that mistake again. Or, maybe he does make the mistake again? Doesn’t matter. The point is, he’s going to learn from making mistakes, even if they’re completely bone-headed mistakes.

        All in all, I think the Jays’ problems have nothing to do with Lawrie, or supposed clubhouse problems. Don’t hold Lawrie to unrealistic standards just because some idiots think he’s Jesus

      • Carlos Delgado did the same thing. He hit HR, so you have to put up with his (at times) stultifying baserunning. Some players are just like that. If he doesn’t compensate for it in other ways, then he’ll be gone soon enough.

  14. the general boredom surrounding the jays over the past month and half or so has finally found its outlet!
    While Greg Zaun may throw out the occasional pearl of wisdom I am always waiting (and often richly rewarded) for a don cherryesque “meathead” comment. Also I think for McCown (and I think Parkes on the last GB podcast) to say I never want to see this person in a jays uniform again is a bit out of proportion. Any penalty for Escobar’s transgression needs to be independent of his play this season and should be based on this singular event (though there has been other less attention grabbing shenanigans).
    At the end of the day he displayed a msg that was at its minimum in bad taste (especially for an adult) and at its maximum in really bad taste. I don’t think that there was any intent to insult or hurt a community at large. Though it was an lapse in judgment, the calls for his head are a bit ridiculous and grossly out of proportion. The guy f-ed up. This isn’t the first time or the last an athlete will do that.
    Fuck..lets find something else to focus on.

  15. What makes McCown and Zaun’s indignation all the more strange – is that both of them have, in the past, accused of being sexist or racist. you’d think… glass houses and all… they would be at least a tad more circumspect.

    That’s in no way to excuse Escobar. Escobar did a very messed up, bigoted thing, which he should be punished for. And Farrell did the Jays no favors at the presser, but using this incident as a way to indict Anthopolous, personally, and the franchise, generally, doesn’t really make sense.

    It’s been a bad season and Escobar did something stupid and homophobic. But let’s not get all Red Sox nation around here… Zaun’s rant seems a bit like George Constanza crying fire at a kids’ birthday party.

  16. I think you nailed it on the head with where Escobar was coming from. He’s a stupid rich ball player who has never been in touch with the social norms of North America (Canada and the US anyway, never been off a resort in Mexico).

    It does explain why he feels it’s no big deal, but it doesn’t make it OK.

    • well i am not sure that is entirely true. He wasn’t always a rich ball player.

      However, I do agree that his background probably has greatly influences his reaction. While I am not an authority on cuban culture…based on my exposure to other latin cultures I am sure this is “not a big deal”. At the end of a day we are talking about a person who came from cuba in 2005(ish?) into a baseball/locker room culture and has pretty much just known that for his entire time in NA. I am sure in the majority of locker rooms this sort of language is not something you are reprimanded for..

      but as you said..all that doesn’t make it OK.

    • You can’t blame Escobar for the culture in which he was raised. That’s what people don’t get. Yes, he can learn to become more sensitive, but I wonder whether anyone’s actually tried to teach him. Nobody took the fucking time to, you know, ask him that.

  17. Im sure this has been argued already… But as someone who spent 3 years down south, I know how casual and meaningless his phrase was. Even had homosexual friends and aquaintences who used “maricon” jokingly.

  18. Nice post.

    I also too fell of the Lawrie bandwagon some time ago. It’s not just his attitude, well maybe it is. But his persistence to beat the ball into the ground as hard as he can to the 3rd basemen or ss and what seems like not make any adjustments. Is frustrating to watch.

    I’m sure Lawrie fells like a Reality TV star living in Hollywood when he goes out on the town for the night in Toronto. Great for his ego, not so much for his game.

    Anyhow nice post.

  19. *slow clap*

    A measured, nuanced post on a very complex & important issue. Well done Stoeten.

  20. I also question this photo. Which is posted on the Score.

    To me look as though he is looking at somebody and point to the black tape/ words on his face.


  21. Its like this Yunel thing deserves to get blown up into something but when it does get blown up its like yes but lets not go overboard and blow this thing up.

  22. There’s a stark difference between “homophobia is not a problem in the clubhouse” and “people never unthinkingly use anti-gay slurs in the clubhouse.” Homophobia requires actual fear or antipathy toward the group, and this has most certainly not been demonstrated. Insensitivity is the problem here, not homophobia.

  23. I think the point that everybody is missing is this – how can anybody possibly be so upset over what he wrote on his face? He wasn’t inciting violence or hatred, he just wrote something (albeit something idiotic) on his face.

    The reaction from everybody seems to be that we need to somehow repress what he’s saying. That we need to make the world even more PC. When in fact the reaction should be ‘why do people still hold this view?’

    Homophobia is bad. Censorship is much, much worse.

    • Troll

    • We have laws in Ontario (the Ontario Human Rights Code) that effectively require censorship of all communications undertaken by anyone doing just about anything just about anywhere. It’s obviously well-intentioned and rather effective at its aims, but I’d bet that Escobar’s eyeblack runs afoul of it. (Again, it’s not homophobia, but it does create a poisoned environment.)

      • And you think this is a good thing?
        I suppose you support the Ontario Human Rights Commission too?

        • Don’t think I passed judgment on the issue above. I think it’s overzealous. Historically, though, bigotry has never sorted itself out on its own. Make of that what you will if you really want my opinion.

          • To paraphrase: “here’s a vague opinion on the history of bigotry, presented as a fact. Decipher that any way you wish, and that’s my opinion”.

            You should post on GB

            Bigotry usually sorts itself out through the collective will of the repressed, and the gay community has spewed far less vitriol than self-righteous gay hipsters (to borrow a term from Drew).

          • You seem to believe I want Escobar raked over the coals by some overreaching quasi-judicial tribunal. All I was pointing out is that this isn’t simply a cultural clash; we also have relevant laws in place.

            “Collective will of the repressed,” though? Seriously? People fought wars to fix this bullshit, and in no case was the “collective will of the repressed” a match for superior numbers and armament.

          • “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
            -F Douglass

          • Wars? What wars were fought to “fix” homophobia?

            Oh, and your “and in no case was the “collective will of the repressed” a match for superior numbers and armament.” can be rebutted in one word.


          • Bigotry has more than one victim.

          • So does censorship

          • Jaymz…’what wars were fought against homophobia’? Try that little squabble called WWII. One of the many groups specifically targeted by Hitler was gays.

            Before you nitpick, a fight against homophobia is a component of a larger fight against the general concept of hatred, which includes bigotry, racism, homophobia, etc. The fight against the spread of systemic and institutionalized hatred was most certainly a rallying point for the Allies during WWII (especially the European theatre).

    • You used the term “PC,” therefore whatever you’re saying is invalid. Try again.

      • You obviously understand only what you understand. The man’s point is quite thoughtful and valid. Too bad you are so close minded. Ironic even.

      • Brilliant defense, Stoeten.

        Dave – thanks for having actually reading my comment.

        • Actually, I will try again.

          The general response to this non-event essentially amounted to manufactured outrage. The general sentiment was “this man should not be allowed to say these things, ambiguous as the statement may or may not be”

          However, as any 5 year old will tell you, getting slapped on the wrist will only produce resentment, and will do very little in the way of enlightening the offender.

          Instead, why not ask “why does this player, and latin players in general (it would seem), still hold these views that we in Canada see as retrograde?”

          Address the situation, source the root of the issue, work towards a resolution.

          Or, alternatively, you can cry and wail and gnash your teeth and say he’s a disgrace to this city.

          Whatever you think works better.

          • PS. I forgot to mention that he IS allowed to say these things. He is allowed to say anything he wants as long as it doesn’t incite immediate violence.

            This is a founding principle of western civilization. Indeed, perhaps THE founding principle.

            And if you think he is not allowed to express himself in any way he sees fit, this of course begs the follow up question – allowed by whom?

          • He’s not allowed to say these things, you idiot. Hate speech laws don’t render it criminal, but they also don’t explicitly permit it.

          • Actually, even Trudeau’s woefully socialist Charter of Rights and Freedoms indeed guarantees freedom of speech “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”

            The criminal code prohibits “hate propaganda”.

            Bill C-250 prohibits inciting hatred based on sexual orientation.

            Do you think writing “you’re gay” on your face approaches any of these thresholds?

            Do you think anybody, especially the government, has the right to tell you what to say and what to think?

            Are you aware that hate speech laws are under review right now in regards to their clash with foundational western values, and even our own joke of a Charter?

          • PS Your argument’s central thesis – It’s not illegal, but he’s not allowed so say it anyway – is simply brilliant.

            That’s the kind of notion that can only be ascribed to higher education

          • Why are you still talking about the criminal code? I already mentioned the Ontario Human Rights Code as one thing Escobar’s conduct probably runs afoul of.

            Do I think this is reasonable? That’s a separate question. Do I think writing “you’re gay” on your face needs to be cirminalised? That’s also a separate question. The answers to these questions, as well as what values you believe are fundamental to our culture, are irrelevant to whether Escobar violated existing laws that may or may not mesh with anybody’s ideas of reasonability or values.

          • Jaymz,

            This isn’t a freedom of speech issue. He was punished by his employer (Jays/Rogers) for how he represented the organization. People are censored in their workplace, that is just a matter of fact – even more so when you have a job that is so public.

            Personally, I was not offended by the what Escobar did, but I still think it is a good thing that he was punished. The Jays/Rogers (backed by MLB) demonstrates that they are against discrimination towards people because of their sexual orientation. For the Jays to not take a stand against it is to tacitly say “it is okay to discriminate against gay people”. It’s an either or proposition.

          • Semantic – If that’s your argument, I should point out that it most certainly does not run afoul of the human rights code.

            Micky – my apologies if I wasn’t clear. You’re certainly correct that employers can censor their employees. And I agree that Rogers did the right thing by distancing themselves from the incident.

            However, I believe this thread relates to the public outcry and the sense that this sort of speech should not be tolerated. At least, that is the base from which I’m arguing.

          • …umm Jaymz….the Jays are doing exactly what you think they should be doing by suspending him for only three games (instead of two weeks / rest of season as many suggested) and instead putting a larger focus on education and sensitivity training.

          • You used the term “Trudeau’s woefully socialist Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” so, again, unfortunately, you’ve invalidated yourself.


          • I dunno, dude. Pretty sure that rendering a stadium unwelcoming to gay people counts as “creating a poisoned environment.”

            Whether in fact he did that is rather more important. I have my doubts, but I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say uneqivocally that what he did was OK by the HRC.

    • Homophobia is cultural censorship.

      • Interesting point. Are you asking “should we tolerate the intolerant”?

        Can you elaborate a bit?

    • Congrats! This is officially one of the stupidest comments I’ve ever read on this board. To try and turn this into a free speech issue is mind-blowing.

  24. Fantastic post. Well done.

    The Zaun and McCown indignation reeks of pouncing on the opportunity to run a guy they never really liked in the first place out of town. Were these guys calling for Kobe Bryant to report to the Lakers office to return his jersey? Or Joakim Noah? Or Wayne Simmonds? Or any of the host of athletes that have been guilty of similar transgressions.

    Bobcat also hammered Beeston on Escobar previously writing eye black, stating that his staff had been “scoured” game tapes and had no evidence of Escobar having any writing on his eye black, with the implication that Farrell was flat-out lying when he said that Escobar had previously wore eye black with innocuous writing on it. All you had to do was scroll through James_in_TO’s flickr to find this:

  25. Excellent post.

  26. Very well said, Stoeten. I think the notion that Escobar should be kicked off of the team on the basis of this transgression….and because he’s not having a great year is the most offensive part. If someone is going to get up on their moral high horse and declare that this is the most offensive thing they’ve seen all year, and then demand that they be run out of town, that’s one thing. But to complicate it by saying “plus he’s having a pretty shitty year, doesn’t seem to care about the game, and is inconsistent” is a means of applying selective judgement. It suggests that if it had been Encarnacion or Bautista who had done this, we’d forgive him because of his talent and his value, and his…whatever. But because he’s not that having as great a year, we hold the moral standard higher and insist that he be kicked out of dodge.

    If you’re going to take the moral high ground, take the damn moral high ground. Don’t say you’re offended and it’s partly because you just don’t like him as a player.

  27. When did you officially steal Parkes’s mojo with the most insightful longform blog piece I’ve read in a while (Grantland included, obviously)?

  28. I like this article, Stoeten. Well put, almost all of it.
    I agree with you that we shouldn’t imagine the bad things about Escobar. I’ve spent a lot of time overseas, in both places where English was the language and where it wasn’t. It really is my opinion that it is exceedingly difficult to learn the culture (like learning languages, people assume these things are easier than they are). In fact, you find people (perhaps slightly stupid people, but frankly, someone can’t help being stupid) who NEVER understand the culture, even people who grew up in these places! I think we all have good-hearted friends who pull bone-headed cultural faux pas, even in their own countries!
    Look, I don’t really want to bring this up, but this very blog had much, much worse things written on it until very recently. But people still come here and read, and I doubt very much that people think Stoeten is a cruel, bigoted person.
    I agree with Anthopoulos that education is the key. Heck, if people weren’t so busy condemning, some good could come out of this. It still might.
    One guy I will err on the side of imagining bad things is Bob McCown, who has a history of being a blowhard and stepping into racist and sexist issues. By all rights, he should have lost his job long ago, using his logic for Escobar. He also knows shockingly little about baseball. It sometimes appears he doesn’t pay attention to the games, or has a very short memory. I remember him blasting JP Arencibia for bad skills at blocking balls in the dirt, all the while praising Jose Molina! Molina was terrible, mostly due to lack of effort, as pointed out by repeatedly by Alan Ashby. McGown hadn’t been paying attention and just assumed Molina was good at this, because he was a “tough veteran”. I bring this up because it is McGown’s schtick, he is a macho blowhard who likes to court controversy. He is making this situation much worse. I grow tired of Zaun’s antics as well.
    These guys are paid to talk, they should be the ones that are better at communication, not Escobar.

  29. Anyone who cares about any of this is a Marcion

  30. Whoops, should have written “McCown” all those places I put “McGown”!

  31. Agree with all this, even the bits where you side with Zaun.

  32. I thought Zaun comments were not too far off base. The comment about AA being a sabermetrician and never playing the game was moronic. Plenty of good GMs have never played professionally. Off the top of my head cashman, friedman, and daniels never played professionally and they are considered among the top gms out there. However, Zaun was right about accountability being an issue in the clubhouse. Its starts att he top with Farrell. Think about how many times this year this team has made a boneheaded baserunning blunder. Not just lawie, but players like davis and bautista. Farrell has to take responsibility for that and not reeling his players in.

    • But, but…I thought the loose fun clubhouse atmosphere was what everyone needed? Remember when they got rid of Halladay and there was this sentiment that the clubhouse needed to become more relaxed?
      For starters, we have no idea what the clubhouse atmosphere is like. We simply make inferences based on our very limited observations. Second, this just seems like revisionist history. The Rays, for example, are always lauded for how much fun they have and how loose they are. The only difference I can see is that the Rays are winning while the Jays are losing. I may be wrong but I don’t recall Maddon calling out any of his players publicly.

      • they don’t need to be called out publicly… they need to stop making the same mistakes over and over again.

  33. Zaun of course mixes border line intelligence with a massive amount of unlistenable, unintelligent dribble.

    He also found the only Toronto broadcaster (with baseball knowledge) to spew it too and agree with!

    Zaun is an imbecile although entertaining to a point. Of course the Escobar incident should not be swept under the rug, and what he did was moronic. Anyone expecting athletes to stop behaving in this manner are equally moronic. Just like every DUI, Assault, drug possession, you deal with it and move on. Within 2 weeks a bigger story will break making this one irrelevant in every other part of North America.

    Weather its Lance Armstrong, Joe Paterno, Bam Morris :), whoever .. stuff always happens by these clowns and you can’t dwell on it. It just sucks that it now involves a Jay during a terribly disappointing season!

  34. Whenever McCown talks about baseball he sounds just like all of the other know-nothing fans. Did you hear him last Friday saying that Gose is a flame-out as a prospect?

  35. I grew up playing baseball, made it as far as college ball before my arm fell off. i agree with some of this, Zaun has some points, but generally, players need to make mistakes in order to learn the right way. thats not just true in baseball, its true in life.

    Should we spare Lawrie criticism? No, its well deserves, he’s overly aggressive and that clouds his judgment.. But thats a product of him and not the clubhouse. in a year or 2, if his game hasn’t grown, its a huge deal. But very few players don’t make mistakes at first. Remember how bad Snider was in LF at first? over throwing cut off men, not reading the play properly? Now look at him, it takes time. Not everyone is mike trout.

    the last point I want to make is about mccowan who i lost a lot of respect for (didnt have much to begin with) after tuesday. If you want to take a stance on the issue, thats his right to do so. I dont necessarily agree with it, seems harsh based on other incidents, but thats his choice.. What i fail to understand is how many times he had to bring up the fact that he was from cuba and spanish. to go as far as to say, ‘we see this with a lot of spanish players taking the cowards way. Thanks Don Cherry for that comment.

    Who the fuck is he or are we to look down at another culture just because it hasn’t adopted our standards of equality? I’m not condoning what escobar did, writing the word on his face was a pointlessly moronic decision, but going as far to say to release him over this, with out first understanding that homophobia doesn’t exist in some cultures. Its like calling someone 100 years ago who had a slave a racist. That’s as ignorant (granted not as stupid as writing on your face) as what escobar pulled off

    • I find your cultural relativism quite amusing. We are every bit as entitled to pass judgments on what we find acceptable here, among us, as other cultures are to judge us and our values. If you think that populations overseas don’t make moral judgments on us and extend their values to include us, you have a rude awakening coming.

      • “If you think that populations overseas don’t make moral judgments on us and extend their values to include us, you have a rude awakening coming.”

        I realizing there is judging across all platforms and nations, but to go as far as to castrate someone because of it here seems ridiculous. You have to atleast have an understanding of the culture to make comments. Yes most of the spanish nations have not caught up to equality, its not just with gays but also with women too.

        I live in brampton, I don’t make fun of the women who aren’t allowed to sit in the front seat while their husbands are driving. Thats a product of their culture, a culture that hasn’t caught up to womens rights yet, but who the fuck am I to judge? Our society is FAR from perfect.

        • You are a proud western man, the product of 5000 years of enlightenment, fired from the crucible of truth seeking and justice, scion of the minds that produced the Magna Carta, democracy and equality.
          That’s who you are and that’s why you can judge with a clear conscience.

  36. A message to all the people who wish to dismiss Escobar for more than simply a few games:

    Charles Barkley was right and wrong. They are not role models, they are not perfect. And that is part of the fucking process of becoming a man (this goes as well for Lawrie). Its far too easy to issue a heavy-handed reaction to such a one, to send him away out of sight (and eventually, out of mind). No, keep him around. Make him uncomfortable. Get people to think. Banning him for this will only drive this sort of sentiment deeper underground, rather than expose it. But Barkley was wrong in implying that we shouldn’t look at, and look to, professional athletes – because they reflect our culture for us.

    It is particularly rich for readers and commentators on this site to condemn Escobar in this way. Every day we use language that is hurtful and insensitive with each other, on this blog, in the very same way – because we enjoy it. “But we’re not targeting homosexuality or particular races!”, you say? So what? How many of you would dare to use that language so openly in a bar in Fort McMurray or Timmins? It does irritate me when non-baseball fans, who scarcely ever hear of the Jays, rush to condemn. But regular denizens of this site are not wrong to consider this matter seriously. For both sides are right. “Maricón” is used in a light, non-gay-baiting way, making this matter less worthy of the sanctimoniousness you read outside. But this very usage, by its casualness, by its mindlessness, needs to be examined.

    The Blue Jays have a long way to go to contend. Becoming better men is a very considerable part of that. Sending Escobar away denies an essential truth of sports and of life – we have to overcome this ugliness, and in order to do to that, we have to fucking look at it – and live with it, EVERY FUCKING DAY, EVERY FUCKING GAME.

  37. AA brings up an interesting point – if Delom Young gets 7 games PHYSICALLY abuses a fan and calls him a Jew prick (or something to that regard), what’s the argument that dumb ass Escobar should get a bigger suspension – even though what he did was lousy and stupid)?

  38. Much of the media’s reaction was particularly disgusting to me on Tuesday. It seemed that a lot of people (Zaun and McCown especially) hadn’t liked Yunel for quite some time and just used this opportunity to rake him over the coals without taking any time to understand the greater cultural/contextual issues at play.

    • They aren’t paid to understand anything. They’re paid to act indignant and get people to watch.

    • Have to agree it was a total hatchet job. I thought McCowan was far worse. Zaun had some good points about some of the performances but after that it was all down hill.

  39. P.S stoets, I’ve loved the coverage of all this. I know you’d probably be critiquing lineup and bullpen decisions in meaningful september games, but you’ve been great at cutting through all thats going on and delivering it a clear and concise way.

    good work

  40. Stoeten, thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

  41. I think the example of Farrell’s tone-deafness that Stoeten likes to cite (Farrell saying there isn’t a problem with homophobia right after Escobar says the Latin players use the phrase regularly) isn’t quite fair.

    Farrell doesn’t speak Spanish and he must rely on Luis Rivera or the other bilingual coaches or players to translate if needed. If the word’s so common that it doesn’t raise eyebrows among the Latin people, how in God’s name is Farrell supposed to know about that? I’m guessing it’s used in a “that’s gay” or “don’t be a pussy, bro” kind of way, which is probably not transmitted to the manager anyway.

    When you consider that, Farrell’s defense of the clubhouse culture is not really that ridiculous, nor should it be surprising. It’s a head-in-the-sand kind of argument, but it’s plausible.

    • how about the fact that farrell is sitting a press conference for a player being suspended for having a homophobic slur written on his face? imo, that is a pretty good indication that there is some sort of problem.

  42. Thank you Andrew, the closest piece we’ve had to sanity since this blew up. The discussion here has also been exemplary this afternoon. Balancing on a beam shared by McGown and Zaun is no easy task. The amount of hate Mr. Escobar has received is stupendously disproportionate for what he did. People are trying to compare it with the Atlanta coach, John Rocker, Kobe etc. when the only thing in common is an h-word that has been pasted on a possible interpretation of the m-word he used and in the process a lot of other people have been tossing a really disgusting f-word around to justify their own hate. Once again, thanks for trying to “air” this out.

  43. Overall, I think this is an articulate, nuanced, well thought out post. I agree with a lot of it. Where I disagree a bit, and I may be wrong, is in regards to your comments on Zaun’s characterization of AA as a “bean counter”. I think it’s unfortunate that Zaun used that phrase, because I don’t think Zaun was making any kind of statement regarding a stats guy’s qualifications to be a GM.

    It sounded to me like he was giving AA somewhat of a pass on clubhouse culture stuff because he didn’t have a background as a coach or player. I realize Zaun is an old school guy, but I think reading his remarks as an attack on AA’s bona fides is maybe a bridge too far.

    I don’t remember the exact wording, but I think he went out of his way to say he wasn’t judging qualifications.

    • I think you’re basically right– that’s why he was putting it more on Farrell than Anthopoulos, because you supposedly can’t expect AA to know how to deal with a clubhouse. But I kind of think it’s all bunk. There are many examples of non-player GMs who have not had these kinds of situations.

  44. I wonder if Bob McCown would have suspended Jose Bautista for doing the same thing?

    • I think a more appropriate answer would be how would he have reacted if it was Rajai Davis or Casey Jansen?

  45. Great writing Stoten, level headed, not like commentators that get fans juiced up with the ratings to sell more advertizing. I’m looking forward for the incident to cool down so we can trade him for something the team needs. Perhaps a coaching staff that can teach fundamentals.

  46. I still don’t know why Escobar did it.

    Was he trying to intimidate the opposing Latino players by calling them fags with the eye black?

    And yes he does live in a bubble by not being able to speak the language of the city in which he lives (plays). You can’t learn that what you did was inappropriate and stupid if your not able to participate in the culture.

  47. none of this happens on Cito’s watch, i’ll tell you what.

  48. I’m still not sure where I’m at when it comes to Escobar – the perfect condiment for this shit sandwich of a season. What kind of a moron writes anything on their eye black? In what universe is this considered a good idea or even condoned? Hey, why don’t I write dumbass things on the bill of my cap or on the seat of my pants? It’s fucking stupid. And so Escobar takes it one step further and writes offensive shit for the world to see? It’s beyond the pale.

    What’s also beyond the pale is the absolute fucking sanctimonious bullshit coming out of the mouths of McCown and Brunt. Unlike those two, I don’t conflate a message scrawled on the eye black of some fucking idiot who probably doesn’t know any better to vituperative bile hurled at the gay community. Escobar will pay a price for his idiocy. As he should. Hopefully, it will be the necessary impetus for him to stop behaving like a 29 year old man-child.

    As for Zaun, a clubhouse is not a military barracks. But I think he’s probably right that a little more adult supervision might be in order.

  49. Great post Stoeten. Very well said.

  50. My first point…if you’ve been on a ballfield, especially one in college or above, you know that there’s no time to sit around and read a guy’s eye black.
    This was for Escobar, his (dumb macho) way of pumping himself up.
    Overall, he still seems too far into his own “legend”, which I call A-Rodding yourself, rather than seeing how he REALLY will be perceived at the end of his career.

    With regard to management, if you crack down too hard NOW (when we’re in last with no hope for this year, not to mention with all the veteranos out) then you’re risking the “wet bar of soap” theory; these ARE grown men (at least in their own self-perceptions), and they will not like the grips tightening now.
    I would assume (since assumption is all I have) that there was a quick and quiet team meeting about this sort of thing, Farrell spoke to common sense and told them, “No more messages on eye black, huh, guys,” and that this tempest in a jockstrap will blow over, the lesson learned…which will be “keep the homo jokes out of the public eye”, not the lesson the righteous wish to be learned.

    In a broader perspective, I feel like you nailed it…we all spend so much time trying to pigeonhole someone (!sorry!) as either perfectly good or perfectly evil, when even as colourful a character as a Latino ballplayer can be described as “shades of grey”.

    If Escobar has not now learned, without one scintilla of doubt, that those messages now disappear forever, then he’s beyond hope.
    If Lawrie doesn’t have a little more caution beaten into his head over the next couple of years, then we’re right to label him boneheaded.
    If this sort of thing happens again in Toronto in the next few years, then obviously management isn’t paying attention to their players’ behaviour.

    In the end, I’ll bet Jose Bautista would, when he’s around, quietly say something about leadership to Escobar, that the team loses a few bucks (the gay community has tons of disposable income, and a lot of them like sports), and that next year is much better than this.

    How can it NOT be, right?

    By the way…I’m stealing, “dousing Escobar in biggot napalm”. MY God, that was funny.

    • I always love the “you have to play to get it line of thinking” ..

      I also like the cut-uff being “college or above” ..I have played with numerous minor league and college players and I will tell you .. that they are absolutely no different then the crappiest players out there .. everyone on the Jays would have noticed YUNEL’s eye black .. EVERYONE .. of course 85% of them would have no clue what it mant and wouldn’t care to say anything ..

      YUNEL is an idiot like most of these pros .. he did something stupid dumb and probably does not like Gay people .. unless of course they are “cutting his hair” ..

      so what … he has been punished .. no lunatic would do this again .. now move on .. you can’t police every action by every player …

      • but if you’re english, and you hear that word every 2 minutes from the spanish players do you care?

        not picking on just the spanish, white players use the word gay and fag a lot .

  51. I totally agree with most that this Escobar thing needs to go away now! He’s clearly just ignorant. The biggest issue for me here is that whether it’s writing stupid words on your eye black or wearing necklaces, improper sunglasses or not wearing your cap straight….when you put on a Fucking Blue Jays uniform you represent thousands of fans, employees and players that adore the team and buy the merchandise. Have some respect for not only the game but for yourself and act like a big boy. Its a privilege to wear a Blue Jays uniform, so wear it properly. Yes, the words were extremely inappropriate but if anyone on the Blue Jays gave a shit about the way their players looked, he would have been asked to take that crap off his face.

  52. This blog gets preachier and preachier. I bet you’re insufferable to hang out with

  53. Wasnt the main reason they kept Omar Vizquel with the team this year was to mentor the players from Spanish/Latino culture? I guess that didn’t happen…


    • I think Jose played a big role in that regard as well. Not having him in the clubhouse seems to have quite the trickle down effect as well.

    • I’m not sure why people automatically assume Omar Vizquel is going to be this paragon of sensitivity simply because he’s old. The guy came into the league in the height of AIDS fear-mongering when homophobia in society in general was rampant and major league clubhouses undoubtedly were more homophobic than they may be today. He’s been in major league baseball clubhouse bubbles, which I think we can all agree aren’t exactly the most sophisticated of environments, for the rest of his life since then.

      We’ve all met or heard the tales of tons of grandmas and grandpas that refer to blacks as “negros” or Asians as “china men” or “oriental”. In many cases not because they’re racist and wish to propogate hatred of these individual groups, but because it was accepted in the society that they grew up in.

      I suspect that this is what colours Vizquel’s “what’s the big deal?” reaction and failure to step in.

  54. Fantastic post.

  55. Great article,

    I think the next question from all this will be who pays for this shit storm within a shit season

  56. If this wasn’t such a public spectacle I’d argue that this is being blown WAY out proportion. Anybody who’s ever worked in any blue collar, or even some office jobs, for that matter realizes that certain politically incorrect phrases are thrown around all the time. Not intentionally trying to hurt anybody, but not caring if they do either.

    Most of what this says to me is that I have lost quite a bit of faith in the Blue Jays management, namely John Farrell. AA is what he is, a talent evaluator, and thus far, a pretty good one. I don’t blame him the onfield or in clubhouse shit like this that goes on because it isn’t his job. It is, however, John Farrell’s job.

    For a guy who came in with such glowing praise I’ll admit that I fell for it. There’s been problems with him from the beginning though. And it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that he doesn’t have much control over the guys in the clubhouse. This is complete conjecture but I feel like the players look to him more as a friend than a boss, and while that always starts well, it typically falls apart. As one of my former employers told me “Familiarity breeds contempt” and in this case the contempt is a complete lack of respect and considering Farrell an equal, which he shouldn’t be.

    I think this team has no choice but to release Farrell. If we can still get something from the Red Sux than I’d jump all over it, if not, he’s still gotta go. Terry Francona would look pretty good managing this team, wouldn’t he? [/dream]

    On the other hand we may all forgot about this in a couple weeks. I’d put my money on the latter.

    • Don’t you find it somewhat ironic that one of the chief reasons Boston seems to covet Farrell is because they feel he could bring some discipline back to the Massholes? That his pitchers were frightened of him? That I suspect Francona is who he’s been trying to emulate?

      • I think they had some success with him while he was there and are willing to say whatever it takes to make people think it’s a good idea to bring him back. Can’t blame em.

  57. Greg Zaun iis an absolute fucking moron

  58. Some of the things I’ve questioned about this team comes from the developmental side. Considering how long a lot of the guys have been around in the minors, young age or not, as in Gose’s case, I can’t understand why so many of them continue to come to the majors lacking polished basic skills such as bunting or situational base running. These aren’t facets of the game you have to learn again or adjust to at the major league level except in the smallest of ways. Same goes for some of the defensive skill sets like throwing from the outfield or blocking the plate. You’d think with the time, energy and man power invested by the parent club in these guys they would be far more polished than we’re seeing. It shouldn’t be the major league coaches jobs to break down a player and start them from scratch on these fundamentals. Hitting and pitching are another matter obviously but the fundamentals?

    BTW good piece

  59. Can this season please end?

    Have we had a week this year without something horrible happening?
    Either someone getting hurt, roof not closing, helmets thrown at umps who make shitty calls, fans dying, now Eyegate….

    What’s next? a barfight, a DUI, a murder in the front office? This is worse than a soap opera

    • How about a vertual bar fight. Heres how we start…Hey, #1 Blue Jays Fan in NJ – Why don’t you ceer for an American team you stupid fucker? (Birddawg throws the contents of his beer in the face of the visiting American)

  60. Good post, Stoeten.

  61. I have to wonder about some of this. If no one saw it and the only reason anyone even knows what he wrote is because someone picked it up with a high powered lense, how can we say he intended to offend anyone or anything? Obviously it was not expected to be picked up at all ( sort of like hiding your initals in a painting, only u know it is there).
    So , let’s hold off on all this sanctimonious bullshit, and move on. He’s paid enuf of a price allready for fsakes

  62. Will never respect Zaun and his opinion purley because he was a big part of the problem that Baseball has now nearlly (?) stampted out.

    We all know where his rage comes from.

  63. PLEASE….just get to the goddam off-season. PLEAAAAASSSSEEEEEE!!!!!

  64. Great article. Thoughtful and well articulated. It stands in sharp contrast to the poor job done at Getting Blanked. What would be the downside to not suspending Escobar at all and requiring sensitivity training for the entire Blue Jays’ organization?

  65. I seriously don’t give a fuck about this whole topic, only to say that there is no way that anyone can sit there and shit on Escobar like they are Mother Teresa. Give the guy a break, he did something stupid, intended to offend or not, and if he doesn’t get a second chance for this, then no one should get a second chance for all the dumb shit they do, or have done.



      • I think I’ve been hacked! The Dave with the LARGE TEXT is using my name. First time this has happened to me. I think the difference is what the guy is saying…very negative.

  66. WHO CARES.




  67. All I can say is a lot of shit will be going down this off-season.

    Very good post Stoeten.

  68. Stoeten: Excellent post!! I really enjoyed reading it. Great analysis. My feeling is, especially after Beeston spoke on PTS, YE is gone. He’ll never take the field with TO next year and it wouldn’t matter to the organization if it’s a sell high, low scenario.

  69. His response was a cop-out IMHO. There was an instance in non-basebal/latin culture related media where this also took the limelight, albeit in a way over-blown proportion. Tyler the Creator, a popular rap artists was put “on blast” by Tegan and Sara on their website, for comments about homophobia and misogyny, and you know what his viral response was?

    This is an across the colour spectrum problem. Does a gay latin person not feel the same hate because he hears it in his native tonuge 20 times a day, or because it is “culturally accepted”? This is about people being offended because of what they are, by people who arent, right?

    I agree with the not hiding the perpetrator, but how do you punish? How can you possibly say the punishment handed out by the very body that goverens what is right/wrong (appointed by said offendees) is incorrect? It begins to teach said perpetrator and also punishes in a sense of financial loss and social stigma attatchements. In this specific case, I believe it might go to waste because of the character of Yunel Escobar, and his actions and stupidity in the past, not just the recent past, but the beginning-of-time past as we as baseball fans see it.

    Good move by the Blue Jays to reach out to the proper “authorities” to receive advice on how to handle this delicate situation.

    Also, I wish I didnt work nights, maybe I would be awake early enough for someone to still care about this thread long enough to respond to me, I feel so lonely… :)

  70. Frig Stoeten you dirty faggot. Stop with the Escobar stuff. Yeah, it happened. Now it’s done. Newspapers take one side or the other. We’ve heard both sides. Who cares? Is Escobar an idiot for putting those words on his face? Yes. Keep it in the clubhouse. This name calling happens all the time at every level. GUESS WHAT? It will always happen. Stop trying to change the world through your little blog and just talk baseball.

    • Discourse is good. Stoeton has written a fantastic post that has people talking about the organization, the media, cultural differences and, yes, the topic of appropriate behavior in the 21st century–all while paying very little attention to the actual incident, which we’ve pretty much moved past. That’s not an easy assignment. I’ll take that over a game threat any day and that’s why this isn’t just a “little blog.” There are plenty of those.

    • If you’re going to let assholes like J post comments using the “f” word, which is no different than the “n” word, then I’m done with this blog. I’m tired of all the white straight male Republicans and their ignorant longing for 1945. I’m sorry that some of us have to translate English for you, or you know, explain how things work in 2012 when it comes to equality. I’m sorry that you “just want to talk ’bout baseball,” and grunt on your way home from work. Some of us, however, are capable of engaging both baseball and the larger impact on culture and its importance in that regard. (See Robinson, Jackie)

      But like I said, if you’re just going to let small white dicks like “J” post offensive language, I’m out.

      • Why do you assume that I am white? That’s a racist assumption right there. What I am saying is that I am tired of hearing/reading about the Escobar stuff. There’s been too much of it, so lets just move on. Don’t pretend that you have never been the perpetrator of some kind of ism in your life (see sexism, racism, ageism) and shut up.


        Go Jays

  71. Theres at least 20 dicks drawn on the walls of the jiffy johns at the construction site I work at, including dicks on bikes, dicks bench pressing, etc. There’s 2 pictures of hermaphrodites and numerous gay slurs. Shit like this happens everywhere there is an over abundance of testosterone. However, even these morons aren’t stupid enough to drive around cars with murals of bench pressing dicks. Grown men dont do shit like escobar did. It was a stupid idea from a stupid guy, kinda like the lawrie helmet episode. Next week it’s forgotten.

  72. Great job overall Stoets. I’ll just add one thing that no one has touched on:

    How much of this may be a product of a young, first-time GM working with a first-time manager? I was always leery of that relationship. I wonder how things may have unfolded if AA paired himself with a manager that had more experience handling a clubhouse.

  73. We’re building a baseball team, not a nice person team!!!

  74. I’d love to hear your defense the misogyny propagated not so long ago on this blog by Mr Dustin Parkes. E.g., “punching kitty.” Please, let’s have your defense of those actions, especially after a paragraph like this: “That’s not to excuse it by any, any means, but to remind us how far we’ve come and how quickly on this subject, and to admit that it was not long ago when I can recall hearing a person who’d called something “gay” offer nearly the exact same defence as Escobar gave, when called on it– just as lamely suggesting that it was benign, that it wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, that it wasn’t meant to be hurtful.”

  75. If you read above you’ll notice that Stoeten admitted to insensitive remarks in the past.

    As far as Escobar, what he did was beyond stupid and he probably deserved to be suspended longer, say 10 games but the union probably would have taken issue with it.

    At the same time I recall say about 20ish years ago when I was in high school that using the term “gay” was kind of like the use of the term “lame” now, meant to be less offensive or directed at a specific group. Through education I realize now that was wrong and no longer use the word.

    Everyone deserves a second chance. My real concern is that Escobar doesn’t seem sincere.

  76. Writing ‘I love Jesus’ on eye black is just as immature as writing anything else on eye black. Thanks.

  77. Homophobia is tolerated in our society. Statements that are preceived as being homophobic are not. There is a big difference. MLB is punishing Escobar in order to create the impression that homophobia is not supported in MLB. A society is simply more politically correct – not more progressive for forbidding the voicing of homophobic statements. Political correctness facilitates the greater homophobia to continue. Latin American society is not more homophobic than North American society, but they are certainly less policially correct. This might not be such a bad thing.

  78. [...] of shortstop Yunel Escobar. The Eyeblack Incident and its clumsy aftermath (Andrew Stoeten wrote a good take on the various aspects) was a big embarrassment for the organization. There is little doubt the [...]

  79. [...] As always in these instances, it’s hard to measure how much of this is true. Some of the past issues are well-known, and given the long history of rumors about Escobar’s clubhouse problems, it [...]

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