Major League Baseball players often adorn their eye black with phrases that are fun, pay homage to someone in particular or send a message. The Toronto Blue Jays’ Yunel Escobar did neither. In fact, he became the first player in league history to be suspended for lacing his eye black with inappropriate text.
The Blue Jays sat down Escobar, a 29-year-old from Cuba, for three games for writing”tu ere marco” (sic), which, in Spanish can be translated to mean ‘you are a (gay slur).
Jays fan @james_in_to captured a photo of the phrase from behind the dugout during the game (via Big League Stew).
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney confirmed to the Associated Press that the commissioner’s office is investigating the reports and could level Escobar with more punishment.
The Blue Jays said that the salary Escobar loses during the suspension will be directed to a team-affiliated charity and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
“Yunel will participate in an outreach initiative to help educate society about sensitivity and tolerance to others based on their sexual orientation,” the Blue Jays said in a statement. “His participation will be conducted in consultation with all parties involved. Escobar will also participate in a sensitivity training program in accordance with the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.
“The Blue Jays want to reaffirm that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.”
The incident comes just two weeks after Maryland Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County) criticized Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Avanbadejofor his unabashed support of the organization Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
Burns immediately faced a tidal wave of backlash, and few critics were as vocal as Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who wrote Burns a letter, bashing his “vitriolic hatred and bigotry.” Burns later back-peddled, deciding that “upon reflection, (Ayanbadejo) has First Amendment rights.”
When the photos of Escobar’s eye black surfaced, Kluwe was once again quick to express his disapproval.