Today, Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended three games by the team for wearing eye black that contain a gay slur in Spanish, several outlets reported this afternoon. The eye black said "Tu ere maricón." The word "maricón" is considered by many Spanish speakers to be a gay slur, and even though the eye black was not grammatically correct ("Tu ere" should be "Tú eres"), which led some to question that it was all a prank that someone played on Escobar, today's actions by the Blue Jays and Escobar's words confirmed that he messed up.
Escobar apologized "to all those who have been offended" for what he said was meant to be "just a joke."
"It was not something I intended to be offensive," he said through a translator. "It was not anything intended to be directed at anyone in particular."
Here is what Canada's National Post did not reported:
The Toronto Blue Jays suspended Yunel Escobar for three games on Tuesday after he wore eye-black tape inscribed with a homophobic slur during Saturday’s game at the Rogers Centre. Escobar’s lost pay will be donated to Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and he will undergo sensitivity training.
“I don’t have anything against homosexuals. I have friends that are gay,” Escobar said at a news conference through a translator.
The National Post story continued:
Blue Jays manager John Farrell admitted that no one on the bench really noticed because the letters are very small, and Escobar often has words on his eye black.
“It’s just something that’s been said amongst the Latinos,” Escobar said through the translator. “It’s not something that’s meant to be offensive.”
The Toronto Blue Jays today met with Yunel Escobar, Major League Baseball and the Major League Players Association and it has been agreed upon that Escobar will be suspended for three games, beginning tonight.
The suspension is the result of his decision to display an unacceptable message while participating in a Major League Game. The salary lost by Escobar during his suspension will be directed by the Toronto Blue Jays to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
Yunel will participate in an outreach initiative to help educate society about sensitivity and tolerance to others based on their sexual orientation. His participation will be conducted in consultation with all parties involved. Escobar will also participate in a sensitivity training program in accordance with the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.
The Blue Jays want to reaffirm that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated. The club looks forward to supporting the efforts of You Can Play and GLAAD to help promote education for players and fans alike and to help keep language like this out of the game and society.
Escobar, who is from Cuba, seemed to have defended his actions by claiming that "amongst the Latinos," the word was not meant to be offensive. And this is where Escobar misses the mark. The word is indeed a gay slur and it also is used to make fun of someone not being masculine enough. It is a word that still reeks of traditional Latino machismo, and if Escobar had done the same thing publicly in say, Havana, Santo Domingo, or San Juan, it would still be wrong.
UPDATE, 6pm EST: A full video of the Escobar conference can be seen here. In the video, Escobar does ask for forgiveness for making the comment.