Yunel Escobar Gets 3-Game Suspension By Toronto Blue Jays For Eye Black Incident

By Thom Tsang

So, there was…that.

A day after a fan photo circulated around the internet that showed Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar wearing eye black that read “Tu eres maricon” (directly translated to “you’re a fa**ot” – although it is important to note that there is a difference in how the term is used in the Latin community, as words tend to do across cultures), the team and player held a press conference this afternoon in New York to address the misguided idiocy that led to the slur being on Escobar’s face. Most probably expected a suspension, and some kind of heartfelt apology; and to be fair, there were both those things.

But there were also moments like this:

In a facepalm-worthy lesson in PR, the presser turned into a mix of trial-like questioning, poor translations (seriously, I know it was short notice, but could they not have found a translator that had to stop in the middle of each sentence to ask Escobar what he said?) and dodgy excuses – John Farrell representing the clubhouse by suggested that no one said anything because…well, no one saw it: “if someone had seen it, I suspect that someone would have said something.”

Let’s just say it was an awkward 30 minutes, yeah?

Here are the important details: Escobar has been suspended by the team for 3 games, and his salary during those games will go towards You Can Play, an initiative “dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.” He’ll also take part in a community outreach program, presumably to educate people as to why not to do what he did at a MLB game, as well as undergo sensitivity training on the matter. For his part, Escobar took full responsibility, regretted it, re-iterated that he meant no significant harm towards the gay community in particular, and vowed that he would never do it again. All in all, fairly straightforward.

I think Alex Anthopoulos hits on a good point when he said that “what came out in all of this is a lack of education” – primarily when it comes to player conduct in the league. I don’t believe this to be a homophobia problem so much as an issue of ignorance. No, Escobar probably doesn’t actually hate homosexuals, but he clearly didn’t think too much about putting a phrase on his face that could have been construed as such while representing the Blue Jays and the MLB.

For more context on the word “maricon” itself, here’s Ozzie Guillen with his 2 cents, just because he’s quotable:

Of course, regardless of the intent, however harmless it may have been, there just wasn’t any good reason for Escobar to put that on his face, if he knew that there was even a chance that it might be considered homophobic, or at the very least, inappropriate in North America. That it happened probably is not suggestive of a “culture of homophobia” in the MLB, as one reporter asked Farrell in the presser, more than a professionals-acting-like-children problem.

Just because they play a child’s game, doesn’t mean they have to act like man-children in public, yeah?

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