Blue Jays’ Yunel Escobar Suspended For Homophobic Eye Black Message, Sort Of Apologizes

  • Glenn Davis

A bit of a firestorm erupted yesterday when some fans got a close look at the words written on eye black recently sported by Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar. That eye black can be seen in the photo above, and the phrase written on it (“tu ere maricon“) can mean a few different things, all of them unflattering. But perhaps the most prominent translation of the phrase – and, according to the linked article, the most common one in Cuba, where Escobar’s originally from – is “you are a faggot.”

Obviously, then, publicly displaying this message is a problem. And this afternoon, the Blue Jays announced how big a problem:

Yesterday, in a (sensible) attempt to avoid rushing to judgment, some wondered if perhaps Escobar was the victim of a clubhouse prank. The suspension, though, seems to eliminate that possibility. The suspension, by the way, is without pay; the money Escobar would have made will be given to two organizations: You Can Play and GLAAD. Seems like a good use of the money (which, given that Escobar’s 2012 salary is $5 million, should work out to a little over $92,000). Additionally, Escobar will “participate in an outreach initiative.”

The Blue Jays’ response here, at least to me, is significant (I should note that not everyone seems to share that view). Escobar’s explanation/apology? From that, one might have reasonably hoped for more. From this story on his suspension:

“I don’t have anything against homosexuals. I have friends that are gay,” Escobar said at a news conference through a translator.

“The person who decorates my house is gay, the person who cuts my hair is gay.”


“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…I didn’t do it to make anyone feel bad.”

Of course, the “some of my best friends are [part of the group I just said offensive things about]” is one of the oldest – and lamest – excuses in the book. As far as meaning no harm – hey, he might well not have. But as many have already pointed out, even if he didn’t, that’s sort of the issue at play here, the equivalent of how “that’s gay” is often used to mean “that’s [anything bad]” in English.

Granted, what Escobar does going forward means a lot more than how well he handles PR cleanup today. But if this was the best he could come up with, he probably should have left his response to the ones who did (again, in my opinion) handle things pretty well, and just let the Blue Jays draft a statement for him.

Getty photo