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:
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney says baseball is looking into Yunel Escobar eye-black situation. Nothing more at this point. #bluejays
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) September 17, 2012