Earlier today, almost immediately after Yunel Escobar was handed his three-game suspension for writing a homophobic slur (“tu ere maricon,” which means “you are a faggot”) on his eye black on Saturday, I wrote an article about said punishment. I was a little uncomfortable writing it, for a couple reasons. Firstly, I don’t speak Spanish, and there was some debate among those in the media over what the term really meant, or could have meant. I didn’t want to write anything incorrect.
Secondly, there weren’t two sides to the story. Escobar did a stupid, careless thing, and he was suspended. That’s it. He acted like an idiot – an offensive one – and the Blue Jays dealt with it in the same way many other clubs would have. Was this one incident a sign of a larger pandemic within the game? Not really. It was just one loser, and yet another example that solidified his reputation as a problem child.
But, after watching his supposed apology, and the Toronto Blue Jays’ whatever-that-was, I can’t say I’ve ever had my intelligence more insulted.
I can honestly say now that baseball and its coaches, players, and management – or, at least, just the Toronto Blue Jays – are as blindly insensitive and possibly homophobic as we could have imagined.
During that press conference, during which Yunel spoke Spanish to a translator who relayed his passionless message to a throng of recorders and video cameras (well, iPhones), he showed little remorse or care.
He appeared to be biding his time… twiddling his thumbs.
“I’m sorry for what happened, and I can guarantee this will not happen again in my career,” he said, as if theact just passively committed itself. “It’s a lesson I’ve learned, and one I will never commit again.”
He seemed to believe that the only crime he committed was getting caught. He seemed to believe that what he wrote was wrong, but that whatever he believes or continues to say outside the ballpark is just fine. He looked like he was waiting for an apology from us, not the other way around.
“It’s a word without a meaning,” he said, of maricon. Oh, but wait, it actually does have a meaning. It means “faggot”.
You know, when Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds came under hot water for using the English form of the word in a game last year, nobody denied its offensiveness or its meaning. Nobody distanced themselves from what he did, or tried to deny that it happened, or that it always happens. They admitted that it was used often, and their seemed to be a general understanding that the game of hockey had a naturally homophobic underbelly that needed to be fixed.
Was it glazed over? Yes. Was it handled properly? Probably not. But, nobody tried to fool the guys asking the questions, or the audience they were serving. Nobody was that dumb.
As for the Blue Jays’ coaching staff and their players? It was more of the same.
You almost expected John Farrell or to stand up at the end with their palms facing the sky, and say, “So? We good now? Huh?”
I wouldn’t have even been shocked if he had done the typical over-50 thing and lead with, “You know, back when I was a kid, we just weren’t so politically correct…”
On Tuesday, Farrell looked like he had better things to do. In the clubhouse, veteran Omar Vizquel said it was blown out of proportion, adding that maricon is “a regular word that we (Latinos) use all the time.”
Oh, so it’s okay as long as it’s used by a lot of people, or if some people use it in jest?
You mean, like the word “faggot”?
During the whole thing, the cameras continually swiveled back to Escobar, who was so lifeless he made Tiger Woods’s stale 2010 apology look like the part in Miller’s Crossing where John Turturro begs for his life.
“LOOK IN YOUR HEART! I’M PRAYING TO YOU!”
Escobar was smug. He looked like he was hiding a smirk. He looked like he couldn’t wait to get out of that press conference, so he could brag to everyone about the wool he pulled over those foolish journalists’ eyes.
What did he say, again? What was his explanation? Could you even call it that?
As for why he did it, or who he was trying to target, Escobar simply said, “Nobody.”
Oh, good. Thanks for clearing that up.
He even did the thing that all callously non-remorseful people do after these kinds of incidents. “I have gay friends,” he said. Yeah, he actually went there.
He then said his gay friends included his hair dresser and his interior designer. As Gregg Zaun later said on Tuesday night’s Sportsnet Connected, “Could you get any more stereotypical?”
Escobar continued with his excuses, all of which rang hollow. None of which stuck.
“Honestly, I wish this wasn’t an issue any longer,” he said. “I have nothing against the gay community. Honestly, I’m sorry.”
You’re right. Sorry to trouble you, Yunel.
See you in three days, you know, when you’ve learned your lesson.