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Duly Quoted: Yunel Escobar

Blue Jays shortstop apologizes for writing a homophobic slur in his eyeblack as the club imposes a three-game suspension.

“I ask apologies from the fans and the Blue Jays… It was not intended to be offensive, nothing intentional directed at anyone in particular… I don’t have anything against homosexuals, I have friends who are gay… I didn’t mean this to be misinterpreted by the gay community. I apologize.”

—Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, via a translator, at a press conference this afternoon. Escobar was addressing a public outcry over a message he wrote in his eyeblack for Saturday’s game; the message read “Tu ere maricon,” which is most frequently translated as “You are a faggot.” Escobar will face a three-game suspension for his actions. The money for the time he will miss, said general manager John Farrell at the same press conference, will go to You Can Play, an organization which tackles homophobia in sports culture.

Farrell was asked why none of Escobar’s teammates raised concerns about the message; he replied that Escobar often writes messages in his eyeblack, that the writing is small, and that none of them therefore noticed anything amiss. “Is homophobia a problem in major league locker rooms?” another reporter asked. “I don’t believe so,” Farrell said.


  • ILP

    Misinterpreted? The message is very clear!

  • Anonymous

    Not good enough. Not even close.

    Incidentally, I’m referring to the explanation, not the punishment. I’m not interested in seeing Mr. Escobar subjected to undue hardship or, worse, made a martyr in the eyes of his fans, who would only blame political correctness and the gays.

    I just want him to have a conversation with someone who was actually hurt by his thoughtless act. I want him to to have an opportunity to understand the damage he’s done. I want him to reflect honestly on what happened, and learn something about how he should act in the future. His comments make it clear this hasn’t happened yet.

    If his actions were “misinterpreted,” what was the correct interpretation? If it wasn’t meant to offend anyone, then what was the intention?

    • Hollow Island

      What damage has he done, exactly? The only damage I can see is to himself, and in making people talk about the Jays for the wrong reasons (ie. where’s the Torontoist article about Edwin being 2 homers away from the major league lead?)

      He’s an athlete – who cares what he thinks? You should be more concerned with his OPS.

      The fact that people take this seriously bodes really well for the Conservative party. People get off on easy indignation and ignore real issues that can’t be summed up in a snide tweet.

      • Canadianskeezix

        Hollow Island, lots of people care what athletes think. In particular, lots of LGBT youth, many of whom idolize professional athletes just like other young people, take these things to heart. It’s tough enough being a gay kid without the people you watch every week on tv throwing around words like faggot. This is hardly easy indignation.

        • Hollow Island

          Yeah, people idolize athletes for what they do, not what they say. Anyone who cares what athletes say should really broaden their minds and figure out who’s worth listening to and who isn’t, and should find other people to look up to if they want intellectual guidance or stimulation. They need to pick better role models. Athletes are role models for athletics, writers for writing, etc. None are role models for how to live a decent life, and I pity anyone who thinks that they are because they’re going to be in for a lot of disappointment in life, and they’re probably very confused.

          Gretzky supported Bush and the Iraq war. Is that offensive? Maybe, but what he thinks doesn’t matter. What matters is that even if he never scored a goal he would still have the NHL record for most career points, among other absurd accomplishments.

          Pro athletes are largely undereducated and grow up in a macho subculture. They’re not the people anyone should expect to present a mature, thoughtful view of the world. Which isn’t to say that they’re dumb or assholes or anything, though many are. And it doesn’t matter.

          • Canadianskeezix

            Yes, and wouldn’t it be nice if poverty also disappeared and world peace was achieved.

            The fact is that professional athletes are treated as role models. So when they do rely on derogatory words, they cause damage. All your ruminations on society and the education levels of pro athletes do not change that fact. That’s why your initial comment, “What damage has he done, exactly?”, is so naive.

          • Hollow Island

            Athletes are treated as athletic role models, not role models on how to live. There has been enough bad behaviour over the years to make anyone who treats them as role models an idiot, or the children of negligent parents. Maybe Escobar has opened their eyes a bit and made them consider who
            should be considered a role model and who isn’t.

            Tell me what damage has been done? Somebody may have been slightly offended by something expressed by a person who’s opinion on anything should be worthless to those who don’t know him. If causing offense is equal to damage, then how do we qualify physical attacks, political decisions that have extremely negative impacts, toxic waste dumping, bullying, and other things that cause real damage? If Escobar wearing a slur causes damage, then the word is degraded and meaningless.

            I wonder how these hypothetical victims get through life, because surely worse things that the Jays’ shortstop wearing a slur have been said to them directly. If they’re going to be damaged by something worn by an athlete, then they really need to toughen up. It’s the opinion of a baseball player, not their father or the Prime Minister.

          • Anonymous

            Escobar doesn’t need to be a role model at all to be a person in the public eye. If he were some guy walking down College or riding the GO train nobody would be talking about him.

            And maybe only a handful of people would be offended by that incarnation of him with “tu ere maricón” on his face.

            But that’s not the world we live in, no matter what you’d prefer. He did it in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands (live and broadcast) and it has since spread to an audience of tens of millions online.

            With your silly beaning comparison below, you compare hitting one person with a ball to insulting tens of millions of people within the MLB’s sphere of influence and perpetuating a homophobic environment within professional sports.

            I can’t tell if you’re grasping at straws or just obtuse.

          • Jose

            Case in point: Lance Armstrong. Effectively tarnished for his athletic accomplishments, how do his (throngs of loyal) fans justify keeping him on a pedestal? “He has done amazing things outside of the sport. He is still my hero no matter what anyone says.” Whether you think people are silly or not for doing this, they do.

            Also, “I wonder how these hypothetical victims get through life”. These victims are NOT hypothetical, and these kids who commit suicide in their teens do NOT get through life. That is the whole issue at hand, less so the well-adjusted affluent adult LGBT people.

          • Hollow Island

            I don’t think anyone is committing suicide because they saw picture online of Yunel Escobar wearing a slur. Anyone for whom this is an event that causes damage is more priveleged than any “well-adjusted affluent adult LGBT people.” People say mean things, and they make mistakes. Get over it and move on. It’s not like he’s leading rallies or anything, or cheating, or beating women, or involved in shootings, or failing to pay child support like myriad other athletes have done.

            As for Lance Armstrong, his example is very tricky. He has done great things for cancer research, and the evidence against him is a little more complex than failing a drug test, which he did not do (well, he did, twice, but was cleared). So a lot of people don’t accept that he cheated.

          • Hollow Island

            I don’t know if you saw the game in question or not, but nobody watching the broadcast could see it, so hundreds of thousands weren’t offended until 2 days later when the pictures came out. The only people who could see it were on the field, and if they had a problem with it they could have administered some in-game justice. Which is apparently OK.

            If the picture hadn’t been posted online, players were the only people who may or may not have been offended. Yet somehow that is worse than deliberately injuring someone. There’s nothing absurd about the comparison at all. If you think that hurting someones feelings is the worst thing that can happen, then that’s your prerogative, but it’s messed up.

            By the way, how indignant were you when Chacin was busted for drunk driving? How long should he have been suspended for?

          • Anonymous

            It’s irrelevant that it was difficult to see in person, we live in an age of cameras and instant playback. The picture was posted online, so why are you hypothesizing about what might have been?

            (Was Chacin drunk driving on the field, in uniform, during a game?)

          • Hollow Island

            It’s not irrelevant because you said “He did it in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands (live and
            broadcast) and it has since spread to an audience of tens of millions
            online.” The crime is doing it in front of “hundreds of thousands,” but they couldn’t see it! So nobody was hurt then. Also, the cameras in the game didn’t pick it up.

            Yes, it was posted online, and it’s a retarded thing to have done, and it makes him and the team look bad, but the reaction is disproportionate to what he did. It was a stupid joke, or a dis to the other team, and the players admit that it’s a word that is commonly used. He wasn’t gay bashing, he wasn’t spreading hate. He’s just a child in a man’s body, like most athletes. But why turn down a chance to get outraged? That’s out culture, and everyone wants to take part.

            Gustavo was not driving drunk on the field, but you represent the team on and off the field. When he did that, nobody cared, even though people could have died. And I doubt that if Yunel wore gay slurs on his face off the field the reaction would be any less hysterical.

            Getting outraged over something like this is ridiculous. There are real problems in the world.

          • Anonymous

            You keep what-if’ing other scenarios – what if another player smacked a pregnant woman on home plate? and then got drunk and beaned an orphan in the face? that’d be worse! so really, Escobar didn’t do anything wrong! and wouldn’t it be better if nobody paid attention to athletes? – which is a waste of time. He was caught, on camera, with a slur on his face. No matter his intention, whether he thought anyone else would see it, or what shenanigans his clubhouse get up to in private, this spilled into the public eye and he’s going to pay the price for it.


          • Hollow Island

            He is paying a price. I don’t think it’s something that requires the future tense.

            I never said that he didn’t do anything wrong, nor did I suggest that people cease to pay attention to athletes. What I’m saying, and it should be pretty easy to understand, is that people shouldn’t consider athletes to be behavioural role models, and that most over the age of 5 don’t.

            I’m trying to illustrate through comparison that perhaps the outrage directed towards him is a bit extreme. My examples relate to A) something a ballplayer did and nobody gave a hoot about though someone could have DIED, and B) things that also happen in the game that are more serious (intentional beaning), and don’t warrant calls for year-long suspensions, even though they could result in DEATH. The use of examples to make a point is fairly standard; I’m sorry if it upset you.

            It’s not my problem if you can’t make logical connections. If you want to get hysterical and be offended by something a ball player does, go ahead, just don’t do it on the backs of the hypothetical thousands who have been damaged by what he wore, or by people who have been let down by a role model (show me one person who even considers him to be a model player!). Man up and say you were offended. It’s impolite to speak for others.

            Also, intentions and context do matter. If you don’t consider intentions when judging someone you are being extremely unfair and unjust.

          • Anonymous

            “people shouldn’t consider athletes to be behavioural role models, and that most over the age of 5 don’t”

            Irrelevant to the discussion. Whether people do or don’t consider Escobar, or any other athlete, a role model doesn’t change his position in the public eye. Not sure how many more times I’ll have to say that before it sinks it.

            “A) something a ballplayer did and nobody gave a hoot about though someone could have DIED”

            Did he do it in his capacity as a ball player, sporting the name of our city on his chest as he weaved across the dividing line? No. So again, irrelevant. He’s been dealt with/ignored like any random drunk driver. Next?

            “B) things that also happen in the game that are more serious
            (intentional beaning), and don’t warrant calls for year-long
            suspensions, even though they could result in DEATH”

            A hypothetical situation that might involve assault/manslaughter charges. You’re bringing up this it-didn’t-even-happen event in comparison so you can ad hom people who aren’t outraged that Nobody McFigment didn’t get suspended for beaning Exemplar Nonexistent. Irrelevant; move on.

            “It’s not my problem if you can’t make logical connections.”

            It’s not my fault you have to invent things to excuse homophobia.

            “Man up and say you were offended. It’s impolite to speak for others.”

            I expressed how offended I was. You even replied to it. Who did you assume I was speaking for here? I’m gay.

            “Also, intentions and context do matter. If you don’t consider
            intentions when judging someone you are being extremely unfair and

            Here’s his intention: He wanted someone to see that writing and understand it to mean that they are a pussy little faggot.

            Here’s the context: That sort of shit doesn’t fly in Toronto, in Major League Baseball, or in mainstream media.

            Got it yet?

  • Anonymous

    Three games is not enough. One calendar year.

    Also he’s a fucking idiot.

    • Hollow Island

      So if he should get a year for writing something on his face that has the potential to hurt feelings, what would the punishment be for beaning a batter or purpose and hurting their bodies?

      • Anonymous

        How does one prove a pitcher intended to hit the batter? “Tu ere maricon” didn’t end up on his face because his finger slipped.

        • Hollow Island

          It’s pretty easy. I’m guessing you don’t watch much baseball.

          • Anonymous

            That’s a swing and a miss; you can hit the batter accidentally, even in the head, whereas painting a derogatory phrase under your own eyes is quite avoidable.

          • Hollow Island

            Yes, you can hit a batter accidentally. Good for you! That’s why I asked “what would the punishment be for beaning a batter on purpose and hurting their bodies.”

          • OgtheDim

            Internal justice within the game is NOT the same as justice for employee misbehaviour.

            If a person in any public company was seen to wear this slogan while wearing the company uniform, they would have at least been suspended without pay for much longer then what amounts to 1 week of normal time (3/162). More likely fired.

          • Hollow Island

            OK, so beaning somebody – intentionally injuring someone, possibly killing them! – it acceptable (internal justice), but wearing offensive words that couldn’t be seen on TV, couldn’t be seen by the vast majority of fans, and could only be seen by players who use that term themselves should result in a severe penalty? Come on, that’s ridiculous.

            If you want to bring up workplace behaviour, I think assault is treated just a little bit more harshly that using offensive language.

  • Pk.

    He’s an immature idiot. No suspension or fine will change that.

  • Rick

    Granted, the phrase written on his eyeblack was offensive, I’m not trying to say it wasn’t. It was and he deserves to be punished for it.

    However, from the explanation, it doesn’t seem like he took it to mean “You’re a homosexual and therefore a bad person.” He seems like someone who uses slang like “gay” and “faggot” to insult people without really understanding what he’s doing.

    Does that make it okay? Of course not. It means that he needs to be educated about how those terms are hurtful so that he won’t use them again. However, I don’t think it means that he hates gay people.

    • Pk

      His personal opinions towards homosexuality are pretty much irrelevant. What matters is that he wrote ‘faggot’ on his face before walking onto a major league field in front of the media. He should be punished for that.

      • Rick

        I didn’t say he shouldn’t be. I, in fact, wrote that “he deserves to be punished for it.” What I was trying to say is that I don’t think he’s a “homophobe” like many people are calling him. I think he didn’t realize that he had insulted people. In his mind, it was probably like writing “You’re weak” on his eyeblack. He probably equates “faggot” with “weak” without realizing that by doing so he’s also equating “gay people” with “weak” and using a slur that would offend many gay and straight people. Hopefully this situation teaches him otherwise.

        • Steve in TO

          I don’t buy the whole ‘doesn’t know what he’s saying’ from anyone over the age of 8.

  • Bill Jones

    A coward AND a homophobe?

    Good luck with that, Escobar, you putz.

  • OgtheDim

    What kind of a public organization would let its employees go out into the public wearing the company uniform and allow them to have sayings on their bodies?

    Without vetting them?

    And you can’t tell me there is nobody who speaks Spanish on that bench that didn’t know what the heck he had written down.

    The fact that this was only blown into the open days later by a fan with a camera is pathetic.