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Yunel Escobar thinks he was misunderstood in Atlanta

Jul 16, 2010, 9:05 PM EDT

Upon joining the Blue Jays in Baltimore on Friday, Yunel Escobar told reporters — well, through an translator, Blue Jays bench coach Nick Leyva, anyway — that he felt he was unfairly criticized during his time in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press.

“There was a problem [in Atlanta],” Escobar said. “I feel bad that I was
getting a label I don’t think I deserved. It was inappropriate because
I’m not the type of person and not the type of player that people were
putting the label on me as being.”

The criticism has reached new heights since the trade, with ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeting on Thursday that Alex Gonzalez was greeted with a standing ovation when he walked into the Braves’ clubhouse.

Whether he acknowledges it or not, Escobar has earned the reputation as a player who dogs it on occasion. I can’t claim that I have watched the Braves as much as Craig does, but his nonchalant style was pretty obvious in last weekend’s series against the Mets. Perhaps it was the last straw for Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Let’s hope Escobar uses this trade as a motivation to be the player we all expected him to be. Beating out a bunt single in his first at-bat with the Blue Jays is a pretty good way to begin rehabbing his image.

  1. Paper Lions - Jul 16, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Escobar signed with the Braves 5 years ago and hasn’t bothered to learn enough English to talk to reporters or team mates. To me, that indicates that he is lazy, stupid, or some combination of the two. And before people that don’t know any better start throwing stones….I moved to Paraguay and was obliged to learn the language within a few months. If you live and work somewhere, there is NO EXCUSE for not learning the prevalent local language in five years. None.

  2. Dberg - Jul 16, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    I am really sick of hearing this argument used against native Spanish speakers. English is a pain in the ass to learn. The vocabulary is drawn from so many different linguistic sources and the grammar makes no sense most of the time. Spanish, on the other hand, is relatively easy and follows rules of logic that are simply absent from English. Even if this were not the case, I don’t think Escobar and other Spanish speakers have any obligation to learn English, and they certainly don’t have any obligation to talk to reporters. There are so many native Spanish speakers playing the game now that for all intents and purposes English may not even be the “prevalent local language” in the clubhouse. Calling him “lazy or stupid” because he can’t speak your language is a jackass, ethnocentric move.

  3. kyle s - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:34 PM

    and he probably does speak at least some english. hideki matsui by all accounts speaks english pretty well, but still utilizes a translator when talking to reporters. if i was going to speak to millions of people, i’d certainly want to make sure i was understood clearly.
    that said, the dude does seem to have a predilection towards lollygaggery. homeboy almost got troy glaus’ arm snapped off last week.

  4. quint - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:52 PM

    While you are right with most of those points, I still think it is fair for foreign players to learn a little english to talk to their teammates, their team and more importantly their fans.
    I have no problem using a translater to talk to the press, the last thing you want is to have a scandel because you said something in a way you didn’t mean.

  5. nps6724 - Jul 17, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    If you are going to LIVE in a country with a different language than your own, I’d say you’re obligated to learn it. Forget talking to reporters, how about ordering pizza or any other mundane activity that would require a foreigner to speak to an English-speaking citizen? I wouldn’t call him stupid, but lazy, sure. And from what I’ve heard, he doesn’t know enough English to even communicate with his teammates. He always needed another Hispanic teammate/coach.

    I’m an Esco fan, but he really brought all this talk on himself. Firstly, he used to flip his bat all over the place every time he put the ball in play, sometimes hitting the ump and catcher. He’s since toned it down, but it took him over a year to do so, even after repeated warnings by umps. Secondly, he is very demonstrative EVERY SINGLE TIME he doesn’t like a call. And especially as a rookie, that really gave him a bad rep right off the bat. You can’t act like that and not expect a bad rep.

    He also has a lot of lazy and unfocused moments. For instance, last year he fell for the fake-to-3rd-throw-to-1st move that never works. Also last year, there were runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs and the runner on 1st steals. Catcher throws to Esco and the runner on 3rd breaks for home with the runner from 1st going back to 1st. Esco goes after the 1st runner, then decides to throw home when there was no chance for a play, both runners safe. This was the first time he was benched for a boneheaded play. And again last year, he was charged with an error and DURING THE INNING he kept motioning and cursing toward the press box. If the ball had been hit to him, he would’ve had no chance to make the play because he was worried about being charged an error.

    I still like Esco. He’s a very talented and passionate player. But he sure can get on your nerves with some of this crap. And at 27, he needs to finally grow up.

  6. count_schemula - Jul 17, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    Unfortunately, the label does fit. nps6724 did a good job covering some of the on field stuff, and there are plenty more examples of each. The complaining, the pouting, the showboating, the bat flipping after a single. I’ve seen catchers follow him down to first base to ask him what was up with the bat toss. It was really more of a bat fling, rather dangerous. In a spring training game I saw him catch and drop on purpose a line drive and then try to turn a double play. What was he thinking? Actually, most of the things he did left you wondering what was he thinking. And on the language thing… it’s not professional nor responsible. Look in any dugout… you see people picking each other up, congratulating each other, talking strategy, discussing pitchers and the game in general. Not Yunel… he just sat alone staring off into space. On the one hand, I think the fans and the team were more than willing to let him grow up and stop strutting around diva style and working on his bleached tips.I think everyone really wanted him to succeed. Heck, Elvis Andrus in on the Rangers and was in the All-Star game. But at some point, all this stupid stuff was really getting in the way of his development as a player. What do you do when he’s arbitration eligible and he starts fishing for a big contract, and he has all these fundamental flaws to his game that pure talent (and he does have a lot of talent) can no longer cover up? The “misunderstanding” was on his part. What he had to do to progress as a premiere MLB player. That he’s in such denial is not a good sign, and almost validates what people are saying about him. The only person saying Yunel was misunderstood is Yunel. He had plenty of opportunity to forge an understanding. I think he will bounce back, and this trade will be good for everybody. But he sort of screwed the Braves over and one day he’ll have to own up to that. We kept him over Elvis Andrus and now our only real shortstop in the system is 33 years old.

  7. Proudly Canadian - Jul 17, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    First of all, he does speak enough english to play baseball. I am fairly certain that his english is much better than Vlad Guerro’s. He just wanted an interpreter in order to make his points clearly.
    As far as his play yesterday, he made a very positive impression on his team mates and the fans watching the game on TV.
    Baseball players are not always correct in their perceptions of their team mates. For example, I find it astonishing that a jerk like Youk has made negative comments about Ellsbury. Youk is trying to run a great player and decent person off the team. Escobar seems to have been caught up in a similar situation. He certainly needed a fresh start.

  8. Glenn - Jul 17, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    As a Red Sox fan who watches almost every game, I can say that Kevin Youkilis is not a jerk and is well-respected among his team mates. His only publicly known problem with a team mate was with Manny. Enough said. What Youk said about Ellsbury was pretty much the clubhouse consensus. Ellsbury is off rehabbing in Arizona while Cameron is struggling to play as much as he can with off-season surgery awaiting. Pedroia is taking infield on his knees and hitting with one knee on a stool while in a cast. Varitek is working with the starting fifth-string catcher and pitchers, etc. etc. Youk has played his share of games hurting, too. The team is the walking wounded and everyone is there doing what they can.
    No wait, you’re right. It’s OK for Jacoby to leave the team for most of the season because ribs can’t heal in Boston.

  9. walk - Jul 17, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    I am going to miss yunel but i am glad he is gone. No question in my mind he is the better player but as a fan i had enough of his mental mistakes. The guy was hanging his team mates out to dry on bases with poor throws is why i got upset. It was a repeated happening. Several people have mentioned the throw to first that almost cost glaus a seperated shoulder. In same game, i believe, he made two soft throws to second that caused prado to get spiked twice. Imo is he better player with more talent? Yes. Am i glad he is gone? Yes. Will i miss him? Undoubtedly. Will i cheer or boo him when he returns? I am going to stand up and show my appreciation to him and clap. He deserves it being best player on a couple of poor braves teams in the past few years. I truly hope change of scenery does him well.

  10. Proudly Canadian - Jul 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    Youk is a Jerk. I saw him pretend to be hit by a pitch and the whine enough to the umps that they gave him first base. Replays clearly show that he was not hit by the pitch.

  11. CYGNUS X-1 - Jul 17, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    english is a pain in the ass to learn?I had to take spainish in school and it was hard and I hated every min. it and don’t remember a thing about it because I never planned on going to a place where I would need it,only took it because it was a required coarse.these ballplayers on the other hand need to to learn english so they can function this country.why should I have to wait longer in a resturant or store because you don’t understand what the clerk is saying or they can’t understand you.I am pretty sure if I went another country to work and live I would be expected to learn the language.people who come to this country need to adapt to our culture not the other way around!

  12. Glenn - Jul 17, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    And that makes him a jerk and bad team mate? What does that have to do with your original point about team mate’s perceptions of other team mates? Just curious.

  13. Paper Lions - Jul 18, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    I am sick an tired of people justifying laziness and irresponsibility, especially when they apparently are ignorant of the subject they are addressing. English is much easier to learn than Spanish; many fewer conjugations/tenses and pronunciation isn’t nearly as critical for as it is in Spanish. I’ve never met a native Spanish speaker that also spoke English that didn’t think English was the easier language to learn….by far. Just another example of justifying laziness and facilitating people in their irresponsibility. Don’t want to learn another language? Fine, don’t move to a country whose primary language you don’t speak.

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