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Yunel Escobar suspended for three games

Sep 18, 2012, 3:30 PM EDT

Yunel Escobar eye black

It was just announced that the Blue Jays have suspended Yunel Escobar for three games over his anti-gay eye black. Escobar will also participate in a sensitivity training program “in accordance with the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.” The punishment was agreed upon between the Blue Jays, the union and Major League Baseball.

It’s worth noting that Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell was suspended for two weeks for making anti-gay remarks to a fan in San Francisco last year.

If there is no other discipline involved here, I’d have to say that Escobar is getting off pretty easily.

There will be a press conference shortly.

UPDATE:  The presser just went down.  Among the highlights:

Escobar made a statement at the outset: via a translator, which made it a little disjointed, here are the highlights of his statement:

“I’m sorry for the actions of the other day … it’s not something I intended to be offensive … it’s just something I put on the sticker on my face … it was nothing intentional directed at anyone in particular.  “I have friends who are gay,” I have nothing against homosexuals … I am sorry what will happen and it will never happen again in my career. It is a lesson I have learned … I didn’t mean for this to be misinterpreted by the gay community. I apologize.”

The first question of the conference was whether anyone in the Blue Jays clubhouse noticed the lettering on the eye black. The answer: nope. He writes things on his eye black a lot, and the lettering was small, so no one noticed it.

The second question: if Escobar didn’t mean for it to be offensive, what did he truly mean?  The answer was not the most satisfying thing ever:  he just didn’t mean it. “It’s a word that is said often among the Latino community,” he said. Which … sure.  But if “people in certain community X say that word often” was a defense, nothing would ever be considered offensive. People in the Klan could say that the N-word was, “well, something that is said often on our community.”

As for that “some of my friends are gay” comment, I must give props to a reporter who followed up and asked him who.  Escobar actually said “the person who decorates my house is gay … the person who does my hair is gay.”  I don’t know if he had any other cliches at the ready, but good for him for his apparently happy life living in a television sitcom.

Oh well. I don’t think three games are going to do anything to change Yunel Escobar as a person.  But that’s not the point. The point, one would hope, is that ballplayers would keep their prejudices to themselves rather than wear them out onto the diamond and in front of TV cameras.

127 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. jarathen - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    What kind of idiot decides to advertise targeted hate on their face?

    • kevinleaptrot - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Idiots like aklolzer.

    • larper2 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      I am against Drunk driving, murder, bad drivers,… am I a hater? I believe marriage is between man and a woman only does that make me a hater?
      Don’t assume some one is a hater for his/her beliefs unless that persons puts the word “Hate” into the sentence.

      • 1flyboy1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        It makes you a bigot if you’re against same-sex couples marrying. “My beliefs” don’t justify that.

      • jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:43 AM

        The problem isn’t what you believe. The problem is when you show up to work with your beliefs written on your face. Baseball players are human, like anyone else, and are allowed to say and feel as they will, and if this happened off the field, I don’t see where baseball would have the right to tell Mr. Escobar what he should or should not say (though I imagine they would try). But on the field, his statement had no place. No statement of any kind does. Just put on your uniform and play the game.

  2. 1flyboy1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Only three games? Um……………at least he’s donating the suspension money to the You Can Play project and the Blue Jays are donating to GLAAD. But what I will say is that hopefully the BLUE JAYS organization steps up and does something. Three game suspension seems really, really light.

    Yunel at least apologized to the gay community directly. But damn, three games? Maybe something positive will come out of this.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      I think it might be just 3 games because he and the union agreed not to appeal if the terms were reduced.

      • 1flyboy1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:49 PM

        That’s a good point. It would have been awful PR if the suspension was reduced on appeal.

  3. kevinleaptrot - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Why are you such a moronic, trolling ass hat?

  4. kevinleaptrot - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Remainder of the season would have sounded about right. 3 games is way too light, especially since MLB set precedent with Roger McDowell last year.

    • blacksables - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      Really? Brett Lawrie commits physical assault and gets 4 games. Escobar wrote a word on his face and you want the rest of the season?

      You have a fucked-up sense of priorities when a word used stupidly deserves more of a punishment than physcial violence.

      • kevinleaptrot - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:16 PM

        Lawrie got off easy too. Had Escobar not been a professional athlete, he would likely have been fired from his job for something like this. Most, if not all, businesses have policies about stupid stuff like this, and those policies tend to cover the comanies collective asses. I know people who’ve lost jobs over stuff like this. 3 games is too little. Escobar should be glad he is a member of a strong union.

        And you’re incedibly presumptuous to make any comment, especially one as ignorant as yours, about anyone’s priorities from one internet posting.

      • jaysjunkie - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:10 PM

        Lawrie got off way too easy, as did Escobar. As a diehard Jays fan, I wouldn’t have had any objections to Lawrie getting, say, 10 games (right after it happened I told a friend I’d be stunned if it was any less) and the rest of Escobar’s season should have been put on ice. The pair’s behaviour has been a huge embarrassment to the team.

    • Detroit Michael - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      I don’t think the Roger McDowell precedent is very relevant. McDowell was a coach with no collectively-bargained right to have the decision appealed.

  5. bbygrave91 - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    You thought Brett Lawrie got off to easy, you thought Colby Rasmus should have been suspended for a slide. You really have not supported the Blue Jays organization as a whole, well for once your right and he got off easy

  6. sictransitchris - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    I don’t mind the length. He apologized, it won’t happen again, let’s all move on.

    • kevinleaptrot - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      They always apologize when they’re caught, don’t they?

  7. randygnyc - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    McDowell directed his verbal comments to a specific fan. Yunel’s hateful comments weren’t personal to any one individual. Not a huge difference, but I do see a distinction.

  8. geoknows - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    I hate what he did, but I don’t get why he gets a suspension while Gordon Beckham got nothing for scratching “Getz is Gay” in the infield dirt at US Cellular last year.

    • The Common Man - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM

      Very fair point. I’d like to see both of them hit with a suspension. I suppose this just got more press and prompted a stronger response. I wish MLB would be less cynical about such things, but as long as it sets a precedent now, I’ll count this as forward progress.

  9. The Common Man - Sep 18, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Personally, I’m pretty outraged by Escobar’s contention that the gay community “misinterpreted” his anti-gay slur. Seems more like he didn’t understand or didn’t care how that word is used in his community. I’m also pretty disappointed in only a three-game suspension, but I’ll be very happy as long as it gives other players pause in the future.

    • paint771 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      The word doesn’t quite have the same meaning in Spanish and is a bit more all purpose than it is in English – it’s closer to p—y, really (and not quite in the same way f–got is sometimes use that way), or back in the day when Americans still said sissy. The closest American locker room trash talk I can think of would be along the lines of “you’re a little b*tch”.

      Which doesn’t excuse it at all, mind – it IS totally a gay slur. But when you get a bunch of undereducated jocks together, it’s something you’d hear tossed off not infrequently, usually not with “disparaging gays” not really being top of mind. Of course, why all those kind of slurs have strong anti-gay connotations is another conversation entirely, and one you can’t really lay on Escobar’s feet.

      In any case, this wouldn’t get a second look in a South Park episode or Eminem song, but baseball is a family game, these guys are role models, and so it’s entirely appropriate to hold them to those standards. I think it’s a fitting punishment, and I think he realizes he f*cked up. Moving on…

  10. 1flyboy1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Yunel Escobar said the person who cuts his hair is gay, the person who decorates his house is gay. I am honestly dying. That is hilarious. And by that, I am definitely laughing at him. I’m truly not even offended anymore. He is a true idiot.

    That was one of the most disastrous press conferences ever. I am really embarrassed for Yunel.

    • cosanostra71 - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      well, in all fairness, the guy who cuts my hair is gay too.

      • ugglasforearms - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:45 PM

        How do you (and Yunel) know these people’s sexual preference?

      • cosanostra71 - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM

        Because I’ve met his boyfriend. Nice guy.

      • Reflex - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:28 PM

        It was not until I’d been getting monthly haircuts for a year that I realized she was a he. And I only realized it then when someone else pointed it out to me. Really though, it did not matter, she does a great job and is a nice person, its no more my business than my love life is hers. I’m just glad she is happy with her life and does not have creeps like Escobar referring to her as a ‘friend’ simply so he can claim he is sensitive to the gay community.

        The truth is, Escobar has a lot of gay friends and family. Chances are high that none of them have discussed it with him, however, given what he considers to be acceptable behavior.

  11. lostsok - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    I agree that YE was out of line putting something like that on display. However, it should be noted that for a lot of people that term is not specifically targeted at gay people, as odd as that may sound. It has been used as a blanket insult for many people who probably never stop to consider the impact, or the insult-by-association, that it has for the gay community.

    Not trying to defend Yunel, who deserves what he gets; even if he didn’t mean it in a homophobic way, it’s just stupid to put open insults of ANY kind on eye black. It’s unprofessional and detrimental to his team and the league.

    But I do take him at his word that he wasn’t specifically insulting gays, but just being generally antagonistic.

    • sictransitchris - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      I agree with you but good luck arguing with everybody else over this for the next few hours.

    • tfbuckfutter - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      “It has been used as a blanket insult for many people who probably never stop to consider the impact”

      Which is exactly the message this punishment sends.

      To consider the impact.

      Whether he meant it one way or another, he will learn a lesson about sensitivity.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      The problem there is that, as a generic insult, it is still offensive to the gay community. Perhaps even more so for the insidious nature of the remark and the complete devaluation of their group. The implication is that being called a member of that group, in and of itself, is an insult.

      This is not even like black guys calling each other “nigga” (which I also think is a bit misguided, but not really offensive). It is not coming from within the group in a spirit of comraderie. It is more like KKK members calling each other the n-word as a dig, because who would want to be one of those people, amiright?

      • clydeserra - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:36 PM

        He was thinking of it as a dig against the reader, presumably the runner at second, or the catcher.

        that he didn’t think of it as offensive speaks to the entire culture of MLB clubhouses really. He is young and in a bubble.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        That is just the problem: why is being called gay an insult?

        Maybe it is clubhouse culture maybe it isn’t. Either way, Escobar is the only guy I see wearing it on his face.

    • 1flyboy1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      You’re right, that a word like that has become a general insult. That is because of homophobia. Homophobia is the reason gay slurs have become general insults. And that makes the usage of said slurs very much offensive.

  12. baseballisboring - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    Aw, I wish it had been 4 games so the picture could fit perfectly.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      That picture was Yunel trying to count to three, so it still applies.

  13. baseballisboring - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    I don’t have trouble buying that Escobar isn’t homophobic. I mean, maybe he is, it’s very possible. But I don’t think what he wrote on his eye black is indicative of it necessarily. I’ll admit that I use the word faggot sometimes, but I use it in private, and I’m comfortable with using it because I know exactly how I mean it, with no gay connotation. But it’s a pretty dumb move to (almost literally) wear the word faggot on your forehead while you’re being watched by millions of people. I’m not even going to call him prejudiced, just a dummy. Maybe he just thought it would be fun to write something obscene on his eye black cause he thought no one would notice.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      What do you mean when you use the word “faggot?”

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      And base, beside it being sad that you do not understand why the term is so offensive, can we ask why you think eyeblack is worn on the forehead?

      • baseballisboring - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:58 PM

        I don’t, you must’ve missed the “almost literally” that was in parentheses right before the forehead comment. I mean, he almost literally wore a slur on his forehead in front of millions of people. Sure, it was below his eyes, that’s why I said almost. It was kind of a joke, didn’t really land I guess, just trying to point out how stupid his actions were in the first place. And please, like I don’t understand why the word faggot would be offensive. That’s why I say it in private and not public.

  14. brazcubas - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    For what it’s worth, the word does not come across as offensive in much of Latin America as it does in the U.S.

    Of course, that doesn’t excuse his actions, which were in the best of cases moronic. However, absent other evidence, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he was not intending to be offensive. Just a jackass.

    • tfbuckfutter - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      For what it’s worth, the reason it does not come across as offensive in Latin America is probably because of a much higher tolerance for specific types of intolerance (Much like one of our lovely Southern states flying the Confederate flag above it’s state house).

      I understand your point though. Just pointing out the reason.

      • brazcubas - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM

        That’s the point I was trying to make, he comes from a society were a certain level of homophobia is tolerated, so he didn’t think using that particular word would blow up in his face the way it did.

        Hopefully he’ll actually take that sensitivity training to heart and understand why it did blow up, as opposed to simply learn not to write such things in his eye-black.

      • paint771 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:08 PM

        I think that’s fair – there is a little more to it than that as the word really does have different connotations, but still. And I think another conversation is why so much trash that would find ample use in any locker room can be traced back to or is essentially interchangeable with anti-gay slurs.

        Still, both of those things you can’t exactly lay on Yunel, who was just being a moronic douc….damn, trying to finish this sentence in a profane but PC way.

    • clydeserra - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      not to be that guy, but the Blue Jays were at home

  15. jaybird22seven - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I’m a Bluejay fan, and I haven’t liked Yunel since day one. He is so cocky the way he caries himself on and off the field. Please AA get rid of this goof as soon as you can !!!!!

    • jaysjunkie - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      Yeah, even before this I had soured on him…for a guy hitting .250, he struts WAY too much. And I don’t care for the way he’ll just take pop up outs from the other fielders, even when the play is clearly theirs. While I’m piling on, I also hate that joking around thing he does where he’ll playfully lift a baserunners leg off the bag and tag them after they’ve slid in safe. Just another indication this is not the most mature dude in the game.

  16. tfbuckfutter - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    So relieved no one has said “What about Freedom of speech” yet.

    I was so afraid when I opened the comments that I was just going to have to straight up kick my dog.

    • cur68 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      Hey! Leave Dog alone!

  17. schlom - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    I want to design the official Craig Calcaterra Jump To Conclusions Mat. The two biggest squares would be “That’s Racist” and “That’s Homophobic.” There should probably be one titled “Phillies Fans” as well. And a tiny square way up in the corner titled “Hold Off Judgment Until All Of The Facts Are In.”

    • The Common Man - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      All the facts are in now. What did Craig say that was inaccurate?

      • bravesfaninbama - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        The problem is he jumped to conclusions. To go along with what schlom said, please see the ‘MOST COMMENTED’ list at the right of the screen.

        I count three racist, one homophobic, and one about Strasburg. Add to that the fact that this is what, the fourth Escobar article in the last 24ish hours and it’s clear what’s going on here. Calcaterra is just going for the web hits. His jumping to conclusions article yesterday was the worst example.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        I think the conclusion your evidence supports is that people on this blog are interested in this topic, for one reason or another. Craig then provided the updates we readers/commenters apparently wanted.

        Yeah, that guys sucks. 😉

      • The Common Man - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        And yet, what conclusions do you think he jumped to that weren’t a) completely reasonable and b) weren’t proved accurate?

      • bravesfaninbama - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:37 PM

        So jumping to conclusions is ok to do? Did we not learn anything from the Tawana Brawley, Duke Lacrosse, and Trayvon Martin cases? The accused in those cases were vilified by the media before the facts came out and had their lives ruined. Just because Escobar ultimately took responsibility for the problem in this case doesn’t mean it’s ok to jump to conclusions. It is ALWAYS better to let the facts come out first, rather than risk ruining someone’s life or reputation.

      • tfbuckfutter - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:45 PM


        Good point bravesfan….

        Or it would be….If there wasn’t a picture of the guy WITH THE SLUR ON HIS FACE.

      • bravesfaninbama - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:51 PM


        Until today, the possibility remained that someone else in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse was playing a prank on Escobar and he unknowingly had those words on his eye black.

        Try to keep up.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:53 PM

        And my first post on the matter included that possibility. I specifically mentioned that he could have been pranked. Go back and look. I assure you, I did not change it. That’s how it went up.

      • bravesfaninbama - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:05 PM

        Craig, I realize your first post included that possibility, but your statement “But now there is a reason for the rest of us to loathe him” doesn’t leave much to the imagination when determining which way you believed this thing went down. So, yes, I believe you did jump to conclusions. You happened to be right THIS time, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say I ‘loathe him’.

  18. mnbaseball17 - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I played college baseball with 20+Spanish players, mostly from Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Those guys use terms such as Escobar used and other homophobic slurs in their everyday language. If I would run into one of the Spanish guys in the hall way they would say to you what is translated into English “Hey how’s it’s going (inseart some gay slur). I’m not saying its OK to say things like that, just saying it seemed to be part of their normal language . That said, Esccobar has to know better and realize that his words and actions are seen by millions of people.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      I wonder what the fabric of language was like in Alabama and Mississippi before the civil rights movement. Having many bigots in your group does not make them any less bigoted.

      • clydeserra - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:10 PM

        well isn’t that just the pot calling the kettle black….

  19. scatterbrian - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    “It was just announced that the Blue Jays have suspended Yunel Escobar for three games over his anti-gay eye black.”

    And there goes the last time we will see the phrase “anti-gay eye black”…

    • historiophiliac - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      Sadly, where I’m from “anti-gay eye black” meant “black eye” for a long time. Glad that times have changed.

  20. randygnyc - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Im getting the feeling now that escobar’s punishment was diminished (compared to mcdowell’s) because, perhaps, there were other players involved and the jays wanted to avoid a more widespread embarrassment. My theory is that instead of having to discipline multiple players, tuneless quietly takes his 3 games instead of opening pandoras box. Feasible?

  21. ericellers - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    The O’s can’t be liking this ? if anything they would like a team without these distractions coming into Yankee stadium totally focused on playing baseball and winning. Maybe helping them out a little by playing spoiler? It’s bad enough they’re playing bad ball and Romero hasnt won a game since Christ was a corporal ,but now add this crap and it just makes the Yanks job of getting to the post season that much easier. Señor Escobar, Mucho Gracis!

  22. largebill - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Three game suspension for doing something stupid? Far too excessive. This deserved no more than an @ss chewing from his manager.

  23. 1flyboy1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I will say, and this is going to be a MAJOR generalization but bear with me……………as has been said, words like this *are* normal conjuncture with many males in South American and Caribbean countries. Hell, we all know that terms like “that’s so gay” were popular in the States until a few years ago. In the US words like the f-bomb and that’s so gay have died out to some degree solely because of the major backlash, that has been partially media driven, against these slurs. But that isn’t the case in other parts of the world.

    With that being said, he knew the word was a “ooooooohhh” word, that’s why he wrote it on the eye black. He knew that. So I don’t give him any benefit of doubt. He knew the word was something that people, at least Latin players on his team, would look at and probably laugh at. So he may have meant it as a joke, but at the very least, what he did was super unprofessional.

  24. wgward - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    If the guy is here on a work visa…it should be rescinded.

    • clydeserra - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:12 PM


  25. combatdba - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    So, if your agenda is PRO gay, you have free speech rights. If your agenda is ANTI gay, you do NOT have free speech rights. That about sums it up?

    • 1flyboy1 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      Freedom of speech does not=freedom from responsibility of said speech.

    • clydeserra - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      who had 50 comments in the FoS pool?

    • cur68 - Sep 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM

      I’m from Canada and I know your constitutional right to free speech better than you. That’s right :The FOREIGNER knows it better than you. There. That should prompt you to look up your fitst amendment and learn it.

    • Cyn - Sep 18, 2012 at 6:01 PM

      There is no pro gay “agenda”, it’s a human rights issue. So, yes, if you are for human rights there is no reason to punish you.

      (That isn’t to say I think Escobar is anti-gay, in spite of the awkward press conference…but I do think suspending him should help him understand that what he did is considered wrong.)

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