Yunel Escobar returned to the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Escobar would go 0-for-4 and stranded six runners as the Jays gave it it up in double digits for the second straight night, losing 11-5.
The apology has been issued and the suspension served, but the calls for a lifetime ban from pro ball, or at the very least a trade from Toronto, continue to bubble.
Really, people. It’s obvious that none of you have done any serious traveling.
Before your favorite Jays writer went to Germany, friends who’d lived there advised: whatever you do, don’t tap your head with your forefinger while talking to someone. We do it to indicate someone’s nuts; they do too but there it has the same effect as the upraised middle finger.
That one I didn’t know, and I was glad they told me the don’t-dos before I left home. Baseball players don’t have to learn local cultures and customs. Their lives are consumed with playing ball and traveling, and their off-field needs are filled for them. Those who try find out there’s a lot to learn.
Escobar needed a translator at the press conference; that’s how unfamiliar he is with North American culture. Does anyone who wants to run him out of Toronto know how helpless that unfamiliarity makes someone feel? Apparently not.
No one told him what “maricon” means here, or maybe there was no need to learn it. Whatever. He made a mistake. Those who brand him a homophobe should be magically whisked to a place where the language isn’t English, where everything they know is wrong, to see how long they last before blundering into some kind of cross-cultural trouble. No translator, either.
And maybe he didn’t think that someone near the home dugout would take his picture and post it on Flickr knowing the possible consequences. With fans like that, you don’t need enemies. Steve Bartman at least never got anyone suspended.