“I didn’t do it to offend anybody…I was surprised.”
The Toronto Blue Jays suspended shortstop Yunel Escobar for three games today as a result of his display of a homophobic slur on his eye black in a September 15 game against the Boston Red Sox. The Escobar incident drew a big crowd to their press conference in New York this afternoon, indeed, the Blue Jays have not received media attention in New York like this for quite some time. Escobar, Manager John Farrell and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos all answered questions at the press conference. After conferring with the Commissioner’s Office and the Commissioner himself, Anthopoulos stated that the club agreed to suspend Escobar.
Escobar admitted that he acted alone in putting the message on his eye black, and that it was a “great error”. Escobar also stated that “there is a different understanding in the Latin community about this word”. Escobar said that he wrote the message on his eye black ten minutes prior to Saturday’s game, but that he didn’t do it to offend anyone. Escobar was very coy during the press conference, often repeating over and over that he did not mean to offend anyone, but failing to clarify precisely what message he was trying to communicate with the statement. Escobar certainly didn’t do himself any favours by failing to clarify how this phrase is used in his culture, what he intended to say with this message, and why he wrote it on his face.
Manager John Farrell said that he had no reason to suspect Escobar because the shortstop has previously written non-offensive, inspirational messages on his eye black on many occasions this season. Escobar said that he has been writing messages on his eye black for most of his Major League career.
As I argued yesterday, the difficult part about this incident is the fact that none of Escobar’s teammates said anything about the message on his eye black. Farrell implied that the message was clear in close-up photos and video, but not so much in person. With all due respect to John Farrell, this argument is ludicrous. Somebody in the Jays’ dugout must have been close enough to Escobar to read what was written on his face.
There are bigger questions emerging from this incident: is the suspension appropriate and should Escobar return to play for the Blue Jays this season or beyond? In my opinion expressed yesterday, a 3 game suspension is too light and Escobar needs to be traded this off-season. His attitude is clearly a problem for both he, and now, his teammates.
What is your opinion? Feel free to leave comments below.
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