Yunel Escobar, the Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, was rightfully suspended three games by the Major League Baseball (MLB) for wearing during Saturday's game eye black tape with the phrase "tu ere (sic) maricón" ("you are a faggot") written on.
Escobar will have to undergo "sensitivity training" and his salary for the next three games, around $80,000, will be given instead to the You Can Play project, which advocates sexual orientation tolerance in sports, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
Escobar said he doesn't have anything against homosexuals, citing that he has "several friends" who are gay (i.e. "the person who decorates my house ... the person who cuts my hair"). Furthermore, he defended himself by claiming that when he wrote the slur on his eye black he didn't do so trying to convey the word's literal meaning.
“It didn’t have significance to the way that’s being interpreted right now,” he said through an interpreter at a New York press conference in the Yankees news conference room, where he sat next to Blue Jays manager John Farrell, coach Luis Rivera and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. “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,” Escobar added.
Meanwhile, Miami Marlins Ozzie Guillen, a firebrand prone to step in controversy for praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or otherwise, came out in supporting Escobar by saying that the Blue Jays shortstop meant it as a joke, that he himself uses it [the word] all the time and that in his native Venezuela this wouldn't be such a big deal.
Guillen was suspended back in 2006 for using a gay slur in English to describe a former Chicago Sun Times columnist. He was suspended for six games, instead of the three Escobar has been punished with, because "[m]y situation was worse because I said it. I said it to a media member."
The Marlins manager, who sympathizes albeit "doesn't condone" Escobar, claims he knows the Blue Jays shortstop wasn't trying to "hurt anybody's feelings. "To be honest with you, in my house we say that word every 20 seconds. I got three kids. It's HOW you say it," added Guillen.