Blue Jays’ Yunel Escobar Suspended for Gay Slur on Eye Black

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Mike Cassese / Reuters

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar stands beside the mound during their MLB American League baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Toronto September 15, 2012.

Football star Tim Tebow often found himself in the headlines for writing words as tame as Bible verses on his eye black. Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar should have expected to encounter such scrutiny after he wrote a gay slur in Spanish in the black paint underneath his eyes. Escobar has received a three-game suspension over the incident.

The Cuban native wrote the Spanish word on his eye black during Saturday’s Major League Baseball game against Boston in Toronto, but it wasn’t until photos of the game started spreading around the Internet over the following two days did fans begin to notice the offending word.

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In a press conference discussing the suspension held Tuesday, Escobar gave an apology but claims he meant nothing by the action. The 29-year-old shortstop, known for routinely scrawling inspirational messages on his eye black, says the word he used has absolutely no meaning to him and “was a joke,” the kind of clubhouse joke that spilled onto the field.

“It didn’t have significance to the way that’s being interpreted right now,” he said through an interpreter, according to the New York Times. “That’s not the significance that I put into it. That’s a word used often within teams. It’s a word without meaning, the way we use it.”

The ballplayer will lose about $83,000 because of the suspension — a sum that will go to the You Can Play organization to support gay and lesbian athletes. He’ll also be required to attend sensitivity training, despite offering an apology and highlighting his embarrassment of the situation.

In an attempt to rectify the situation, Escobar claimed the gay friends he has weren’t offended: “They have just a different understanding in the Latin community of this word.” Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, also a native Spanish-speaker who hails from Venezuela, explained that the word is akin to “bro” or “dude.” “In my house, we call (each other) that word every 20 seconds,” Guillen told the Associated Press. “It’s how you say it and to who you say it.” But he — and Escobar — both seemed to respect the fact that to Spanish-speakers in the U.S., the word has offensive undertones.

The Blue Jays, for their part, seemed to be humbled by the incident. Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said at the press conference that he hopes the team can use the incident to change gay stereotypes in all arenas, not just sports: “As unfortunate as this is, hopefully some good will come from it.”

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5 comments
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Nursenut
Nursenut

So he wrote "You are gay" under his eyes?

Alm1065
Alm1065

Yunel Escobar should go back to Cuba with his ignorance. He makes me ashamed to be Cuban. Steriods make you say stupid things.

Mattyscloud9
Mattyscloud9

i also dont agree with what he wrote, but in america we do not deport people because we disagree with them

Wfc1268
Wfc1268

What America do you live in? We deport or discriminate against people every day because we disagree with them. Sad truth.

Jorgelieras
Jorgelieras

Maybe that's he's way of trying to come out of the closet.

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