On a day when Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was referred to as an inadvertent gay icon by the Toronto Standard, it has come to light that shortstop Yunel Escobar wore eye black on Saturday afternoon that was dressed with the phrase, “TU ERE MARICON,” which translates from Spanish to English as “You’re a faggot.”

Update: The Toronto Blue Jays issued a statement on Monday evening confirming that their team’s shortstop, Yunel Escobar, displayed a homosexual slur on his eye black during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

The Toronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday’s game. The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter.

General Manager Alex Anthopoulos will join Escobar, along with Manager John Farrell and Coach Luis Rivera to address the media in New York tomorrow afternoon.

Singular words used to describe Escobar’s action can’t help but be understated. It’s disappointing, disgusting and completely and utterly discouraging to see this. No matter the circumstances that led to it, and let’s be clear, we don’t know what those are, it’s inexcusable to promote hatred in any manner, let alone one that misuses the public stage that professional athletes are given.

Now, in no way does the context excuse Escobar’s promotion of intolerance, but I would be remiss if I didn’t use this isolated incident to further comment on the sporting culture that fosters this type of behavior. As Andrew Stoeten notes at DJF, some baseball players will be familiar with the phrase if they’ve ever played with or against players from Latin America. That’s not to generalize about Latin Americans specifically, as the language that is used by all races of athletes in such settings is not without blemish.

However, it is to point out that the phrase that Escobar used more accurate translates, in terms of connotation, to something like “You’re a pussy,” or “You’re a pansy,” which once again are sadly familiar phrases for most athletes. While not as harsh as the derogatory term that it literally translates into, it’s still every bit as inappropriate of an ideology for anyone to be promoting publicly.

I feel as though a mere apology from Escobar for what can only be a complete and utter lack of awareness on his part won’t be enough to bring forgiveness and certainly not forgetfulness. Whether through Major League Baseball, or the Toronto Blue Jays, a more severe punishment is called for by such blatant ignorance.

I recall what I’d refer to as the black-listing that Barry Bonds received after the 2007 season (although no one would ever admit that there was any collusion to keep him out of Major League Baseball after that season), and I wonder how others would compare Bonds’ actions to Escobar’s, at least in terms of such things as sanctity of the game. Say what you want about his alleged cheating and what a terrible person he supposedly was to his teammates and the media, Barry Bonds did not openly promote the hatred of others.

However, I also recall the lack of hesitancy that the Tampa Bay Rays exhibited in their acquisition of accused rapist Josh Lueke, and I’m again reminded that earlier this season Delmon Young pushed a man to the ground and verbally abused him based on his Jewish ethnicity. And so, it remains doubtful that Major League Baseball, whether through the collusion of its teams or via more legitimate channels, will punish Escobar in a manner for which I’m not even sure what’s appropriate.

I would hope that, unless there are unthinkable mitigating circumstances that I haven’t considered, as an organization, the Toronto Blue Jays will gladly take a loss on value to rid themselves of any player that would do what it appears that Escobar did.

In the meantime:

Comments (32)

  1. Not that I disagree with the general sentiment, but for all the “let’s not jump to conclusions” tip-toeing, there’s a lot of conclusion-jumping here

    • Have to agree with you regarding the conclusion jumping here. Also there’s a world of difference between faggot and pussy. The connotation or context is going to be key here. It doesn’t change the fact that regardless of what it was that it was ultimately a stupid and classless thing to do.

      • As a public figure he should know better.

        Also, I think it’s disgusting for a group of people to be comparing remarks to determine which is more hurtful. That’s subjective to the individual and absolutely asinine. One is NOT worse than the other. The fact that pussy is perceived as better is how society quietly represses women, over and over every day. It’s hate talk. And I am a man.

        Faggot: disparaging to gay men
        Pussy: disparaging to women (i.e. you’re so weak you’re like female genitalia)

        Both are awful.

        • Well, I am going to jump on the conclusion bandwagon here and guess that the literal translation is not “pussy” as in female genitalia, but this is Parkes’ (or someone else’s) chosen word as a synonym to “pansy”. It would be somewhat bizarre to me if the (slang) word for female genitals is the same as the slang word for homosexual in Spanish.

          Any Spanish speakers want to help me out?

          So, in conclusion, I think you should be angry at Parkes (or his translator) for the comparison of “pussy” and “faggot”.

        • Maybe you missed the part up there on your high horse where I said it was stupid and classless. The fact of the matter is that there is a HUGE difference depending on the definition and context. I think that while insulting anyone like that isn’t cool, especially in his position as a public figure, there’s still world of difference in the severity of the two potential meanings.

          Trying to equate calling someone a pussy to repressing a woman is a bridge too far imo but again you’re entitled to your opinion just as I am. However, I think common sense has to enter the picture somewhere. I know it tend to get lost in these stressful times of moral outrage but hopefully it makes an appearance sooner or later

          Unfortunately, your asinine comment makes you no better because you’ve gone and potentially insulted everyone that’s posted in this thread or others like it simply because you don’t agree with their opinion. Subjective indeed. Don’t worry though I’m not offended just amused.

          BTW can you tell me while you’re up on your high horse the last time you got equally outraged when you heard someone get called a dick by a woman? Yeah I thought so.

          • Calling things gay became slang, didn’t mean it wasn’t offensive. And it’s because people think it’s okay that it has become “okay”.

  2. I agree completely.

  3. I think it’s okay to leave room for potentially mitigating circumstances existing while simultaneously expressing that you can’t begin to imagine what that would be. I really don’t agree with what you’re suggesting here.

  4. Whoa whoa whoa. There IS a big difference between “you’re a faggot” and “you’re a pussy” …and while neither phrase should be on display by a professional athlete, there is a vital distinction to be made here. If the former, it is unforgivable and I’d like to see the Jays cut the guy loose like, now. But, if the latter, an apology and/or fine would suffice I would think.

    • Ones homophobic while the other one is misogynistic?

      • No, not much difference at all actually.

        • You guys ever been in a locker room? come on. if you are seriously equating calling someone a ‘faggot’ to calling someone a ‘pussy’ that’s your prerogative but I don’t agree with you. I might actually think you are taking sensitivity to ridiculous new heights. Or lows, I guess.

    • And insult is an insult, you don’t negotiate

  5. He was out on Sunday due to the “flu”…

    Hmmm……………

  6. Rogers must have a policy on this. What would happen to an employee who did this who wasn’t a baseball player?

    • Honestly? If Gary In Accounting writes “fag” on the coffee mug of his buddy Steve In Accounting down at Rogers HQ? They’d probably give Gary a stern talking-to about appropriate office behaviour and make him take sensitivity training.

      My boss used to constantly call stuff “gay”. I’d bristle a bit each time, or suggest “C’mon, ‘gay, really”, but he was my boss, and corporate environments are just as guilty of old-boys-club, who-minds-a-little-salty-language atmospheres – atmospheres of casual hate-language and intimidation, in other words – as baseball teams.

      • Yes, slurs like this also routinely fly in most of the locker rooms and clubhouses I’ve ever been in. I wouldn’t doubt that it’s any different for professional athletes, who are really just big kids playing a game for money.

        • You’re both wrong though because you’re analogy isn’t strong. What really happened here is that Gary in accounting wrote “fag” on Steve’s mug. Steve saw it, laughed, then filled it with coffee anyway. Then Steve went into a meeting with that coffee, where his co-workers and manager all saw it, and they didn’t say anything to him to stop him. Every single one of the firm’s clients then entered that meeting and had an opportunity to see Steve’s mug. Some of them were offended and complained to the CEO.

          I’m pretty under those circumstances that Steve, and maybe a few others, would be fired.

  7. Yeah, we might want to wait for additional context here before jumping right in on this one. Not all that surprising to me, though, that it’s Yunel involved in such a ridiculous controversy.

    But blacklisting? Really? For what seems to be some misguided clubhouse humor? As far as I know, there’s no precedent for such a thing in any professional sports league. Kobe Bryant was even caught yelling the same slur at a ref last season in the NBA, he got a fine and that was it. I wouldn’t expect anything more than that from either baseball or the Blue Jays.

  8. oh for fucks sake this is just an overreaction. What Yunel did was in Spanish and in the Latino community there is a lot of joking about manhood – it really translates as you are a girly man. It is obviously a joke for the latino players, juvenile yes, but a silly dis at most. No worse than rappers calling each other the n word, it is a cultural thing that I am sure that Yunel had no idea was opening him to political correct speech police

  9. My conspiracy theory brain is going overtime on this one… Maybe Yunel, having been feed up with the Blue Jays play this year, in addition to his own lackluster performance and the constant questions as to when Adeiny (sp?) is going to take over at short, wants out of the situation and city. Instead of asking for a trade, privately or through the media, he has brilliantly orchestrated this event in order to get run out of town, knowing that the media (mainstream or otherwise) will crucify him for his ignorance. The team, and the parent company, would not want to alienate a significant portion of the community, especially a demographic that generally has a fair amount of spending power.

    Or maybe I’m giving senor Escobar too much credit.

  10. Good thing the baseball blogs and local Toronto media are taking the power out of the phrase by posting as many photos as possible that show the phrase.

  11. Typical bloggers and MSM jumping to conclusions. All based off one guy’s interpretation of the translation. Didn’t bother to get Yunel’s or the Jays thoughts on it. Instead went to Twitter making assumptions the context or meaning to Yunel . He probably wants to get his followership up and try and get his 15 minutes of fame. Good on ya James. You are as bad as bloggers and hack journalists

  12. Wait, what? Barry Bonds? wtf?

  13. I would bet you Omar Vizquel is responsible for this somehow!

  14. Why do people think that “come on, this happens all the time in all sorts of different places” somehow makes it more ok?

  15. In times like this, we should all turn to Louis C.K.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IFloXOuLgA

    Church.

  16. The only thing important about this situation is that we are talking about it. We all know that this type of talk has gone on for years. Our society is finally saying “its not acceptable” to behave or talk this way…it is hurtful no matter what the intention was. Professional athletes have a responsibility because like it or not are role models and public figures. Both the ownership and he should apologize for letting this happen and Im sure he wont be doing this again if he wants to earn his millions having fun.

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