Baseball Is a Job, So Fire Escobar
Imagine walking into your workplace tomorrow morning, grabbing a marker from the supply closet, walking into the boardroom and writing the words “You are a Faggot” on the company white board.
How do you think the boss would react?
Would you be able to get away with a simple apology? What if you told the boss that you didn’t mean to be offensive, and that some of your friends are gay?
The answer in most sane, rationale workplaces would be simple: you would be canned, fired, terminated. However, the world of major league sports has none of the aforementioned qualities.
Enter Yunel Escobar, the 29-year-old shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays.
During Saturday’s game against the Boston Redsox, Escobar took to the field with the words “TU ERE MARICON” — Spanish for “You’re a faggot” — printed brazenly on the black tape below his eyes.
Two days passed, and pictures of Escobar’s tasteless under-eye-wear hit media outlets, circulated throughout social media, and public outrage ensued.
Late Monday, the Jays realized that they had no choice but to react and called a press conference for Tuesday afternoon.
This is where I figured a swift and just punishment would be meted out on Mr. Escobar. Surely this was a team and a league that would speak out strongly against these deplorable words and ignorant actions.
I was wrong.
What the public got instead was a vague explanation from Mr. Escobar as to why he decided to wear the message on the field.
“I don’t have anything against homosexuals,” he explained, “I have friends who are gay.” A common cliché that most homophobes and bigots cling to when they let their true feelings slip out.
But Escobar's words didn't "slip out". They were loud and proud (pardon the irony), and written all over his face. Not proverbially, quite literally.
So what meaning did these word, and one word in particular, have to him?
“It’s just been said around amongst the Latinos. It’s not something that’s meant to be offensive. For us, it didn’t have the significance in the way that’s being interpreted…It’s a word without meaning.”
Let me get this straight, you took a word that means absolutely nothing to you, put it on your FACE, went in front of fans, and thousands of people watching on television?
After their shortstop finished rambling off meaningless clichés and empty promises, the Jays brass announced that his punishment would be a three game suspension and a loss of pay for the games he would miss.
Three games? For offending every homosexual watching at home, for making the young person in the stands that is struggling with his or her sexuality sink deeper in their seat with shame? For telling every athlete out there that even in 2012 you shouldn’t feel comfortable coming out of the closet?
They should be ashamed of themselves. This is a huge black eye for the team and the league as a whole.
With a slap on the wrist punishments like this, the four major sports leagues will continue to look like an old boys club, pushing homosexuality as far away from their teams as possible instead of understanding that many of their players are gay and want nothing more than to come out.
With that being said, I encourage every sports fan, Jays fan especially, to do something to fight back.
To do something unprecedented.
I encourage anyone holding a home game ticket for the Toronto Blue Jays from September 28th-September 30th to rip it up. Get rid of it. Burn it if it makes you feel better.
Why don't we serve up this team a three-game-suspension from the fans? Let them know that bigotry, homophobia, racism and intolerance isn't a "cultural misunderstanding" and the fine print under Mr. Escobar's eyes has meaning and consequence.
Silence on such an important issue, should be met with silent, empty stands. Baseball is a game, but baseball is also a job and a responsibility, and a symbol for how far we have come.
Is this how far we've come? I'd like to aim higher.