Fallout from Escobar

Here are the main highlight’s from yesterday’s situation involving Yunel Escobar and his three-game suspension for writing a slur onto his eye-black patches:

Yunel Escobar:

“It is just something that has been said around amongst the Latinos, it’s not something that is meant to be offensive.

“It’s a word used often within teams. It’s a word without a meaning.”

“I agree with the suspension, I don’t have any problem with that.”

“I am embarrassed and for the organization, the Blue Jays, as well.”

“It was just a joke, it was my idea but wasn’t directed at anyone in particular.”

“Honestly, it has been a terrible experience in my life and career. It’s something I am sorry for.”

When did he know he was in trouble?
“Yesterday afternoon when I heard there were some photos on the internet. I was surprised because I didn’t think that something like that would cause any problems. I didn’t do it to offend anybody, so it surprised me.”

Chance to speak with your teammates?
“Honestly, my teammates, my coach, I had to apologize to them. I apologized to my teammates and my coach because it was not their fault.”

Does Yunel have gay friends?
“I have friends who are gay. The person who decorates my house is gay, the person who cuts my hair is gay. I have various friends who are gay. Honestly, they haven’t felt as offended about this, there’s just a different understanding in the Latin community with this word.”

Question not translated…
“I understand now the actions that it did and that it was a great error.”

I don’t understand why you’d write something on your eyes if you didn’t want anybody to see it…
“I wrote it but I didn’t do it to make anybody feel bad, or to offend anyone. It was 10 minutes before I left to play the game. I just wrote it.”

Word seems to have different meanings. In Cuba how would it be used?
“It depends on how you say it and who you say it to.”

When did you start writing stuff on your eyes?
“At the beginning of my career, if you look at my photos when I wear stickers I write something on them.”

What did you mean with the word you meant?
“I didn’t mean to say anything with it. It wasn’t meant for anyone and it wasn’t meant to offend.

Question not translated…
“Honestly, the ‘you’ is not referencing to anyone specifically, it’s not directed at anyone. It’s just a word.”

Alex Anthopoulous:

“I think what came out through all of this is the lack of education. It’s not just an issue in sports, it’s an issue in life.

“It’s clear that the problem isn’t going away, this is just an example of it.”

“Something we are not proud of, we are not happy and Yunel is going to, I think now, become and advocate and work with those groups.”

“I don’t know if there is a right way to deal with these things. I don’t think you are ever going to satisfy everybody. It’s ultimately, how do we move forward?”

“From a Latin perspective, the word is used a certain way — it doesn’t make it right but that’s not to say it is just specific to one culture, one race, one dialect. …

“At the end of the day, the Blue Jays become a vehicle, Yunel becomes a vehicle to improve things, to make things better. As unfortunate as all this is, some good will hopefully come from it.”

MLB hasn’t done anything?
“No, the formal suspension is from the club. Obviously this was done with a lot of parties involved. We spent the day at the commissioner’s office today, the PA was there as well, spoke with the commissioner, spoke with Paul. Had everybody really involved but ultimately the way the suspension comes out, it’s from the club.”

John Farrell:

“There are a number of occasions where Yunel has written a message on the eye-black patches that he does wear and because it is frequently done on his part, really, no one paid attention to it.”

On his reaction…
“My reaction initially was one of surprise because knowing Yunel in many different situations, this is completely out of character as I know him as a person and as a player.  And, it speaks to clearly that those who wear this uniform have an inherent responsibility that goes along with a Major League uniform and there’s very much a social component to that.

“We’re in the spotlight, we’re a spectacle to young people, to people of all walks, our fanbase is a diverse one and this is no different. We did address the club before coming in here today, we made them aware of the penalties and the suspension is there but more importantly knowing that all are going to be exposed to this in our clubhouse. We tried to make this, and will continue to try to make this, in a positive way to continue to educate as Alex has outlined. Initially, it’s a surprise as I know Yunel as a person, from what he did on Saturday.”

Often has words on eye black… every questioned what those words were?
“No, I haven’t because the ones that we were aware of were always about something uplifting and motivational to his teammates: ‘Let’s go today” or something that’s of encouragement. So there was really no reason to think there was anything derogatory and anything pointed to one individual or any group. So honestly, and personally, I didn’t think anything of it.”

But someone on the bench would have noticed…
“If someone had seen it, I would suspect that someone would have said something. Or, at least seen it up close enough to see what was actually written. I know that when you look at the video and when you zoom in on it, and you expand the size of that photo, yes it becomes legible. But, because it had been written, and other messages had been written that were nowhere near this inflammatory, there was no reason to suspect anything different.”

Is homophobia a problem in MLB clubhouses?
“I don’t believe so and I say that because I don’t see any examples of that. I know we’re here discussing what was interpreted by someone as a homophobic action, but you don’t see that.”

Carlos Villanueva:

“You have to respect the way things work here. But sometimes it has to happen in the first person point of view for us to change the way we view things. I know he’s extremely embarrassed, we’re extremely embarrassed for him, we know it’s not an easy thing. I know he doesn’t want to deal with it, but he has to, he has to step up, especially how things are nowadays, you just have to watch what you say, or what you express out there.

“Sometimes it takes an incident, hopefully it doesn’t happen for anybody else like this, but it goes through experience.

“Hopefully guys who are here and guys that are on other teams can learn from this and understand that it can become a huge distraction and it can become something detrimental to the team and to the city.

“If he’s in the box and he calls time and he yells it at me, maybe. … Some guys can take it as an insult, I don’t think in our sport, and the way clubhouse banter works, I don’t think it would offend that many people in the clubhouse. But it only takes one person to be offended and that’s why we have to stop it from happening again.

“It might be used among the Latin guys and we joke around, and in our countries it’s very macho, but it’s not right, using it as a joke or not. It doesn’t make it any better and it won’t go away just like that. He said, it’s just a simple thing I did, well, you know what, no it’s not, it’s something you have to know, it shouldn’t have to take all this for it to happen to become a big deal. He’s gone through other stuff before, too, but I think this will put him over the fact he know it might only cost him three days, or a fine, but it might coast him, nobody wants a guy that’s going to come on a team and cause controversy, and he understands that. He’s remorseful and we have to work with him, he’s our teammate, we can’t just turn our back on him now.

“Knowing Yunel, he’s gotten a bad rap before, either when he was in Atlanta or here. I don’t know him as a bad person or a guy with bad character. I think the most important thing is that he understands he messed up. He seemed very remorseful when he addressed us.”

“He could be suspended for 20 games, and if he doesn’t really care, it doesn’t matter. The next step is for him to learn what he did is wrong and why it’s wrong, and to go from there.”

“It doesn’t matter where you come from. I don’t think we can use the fact that ‘Oh, we come from Latin America’ as an excuse. Sometimes it just takes for an incident [to learn]. Hopefully it doesn’t happen to anybody else like this. It goes through experience, and nobody wants to experience it. I know, right now, he doesn’t want to be in front of the cameras, he doesn’t want to do any of that stuff, but you have to face the music.”

Edwin Encarnacion:

“I feel real sad, knowing Yunel is a great guy, I know what kind of heart he has and he would never use that word to offend anybody. “(Latin players) always play around with that word but we don’t use it to offend anyone. Just use the word not the meaning of the word.”

When asked if he noticed Yunel on Saturday and why didn’t he say anything, Encarnacion said “No, I wasn’t looking at him. During the day games he always writes something on his eyes … but I didn’t notice those words Saturday.”

Encarnacion said Escobar has used other words including “Chilling” which is the same as in English, and “Gamboa,” which means, loosely, someone who is bow-legged.

“I am surprised knowing that we were just playing around with each other, how big it is now and how sensitive it is. But no one told him anything Saturday, he always writes something on his eyes.”

Ricky Romero:

“Obviously it’s no laughing matter. It’s something you don’t mess around with as an athlete. I’m sure he’s learned his lesson. I know guys in this clubhouse and that the organization don’t tolerate that at all. All you can do now is educate him.”

“Am I surprised at how big it is? No, not really. Like I said it’s no laughing matter. You never want to put yourself in a situation like that.”

On why no one said anything to Yunel: “He writes stuff on his eyes all the time. You just get so caught up in a game you’re not really trying to look at someone’s face all the time. For me, I was getting treatment (Saturday) so I was in and out a lot, I didn’t see it.”

Omar Vizquel:

“We say that word very often, and to us, it doesn’t really mean that we are decreasing anybody or talking down to people or anything like that. It’s just a word we use on an everyday basis. I don’t know why people are taking this so hard and so out of place or out of proportion. Obviously he has to explain why he wrote it, but it is a word that is normal to us and we use it all the time. I don’t think he was meaning something out of the ordinary, really.”

“I’m surprised that I’m walking in here and everybody’s asking me about this. It’s like, ‘What happened? Who died?’ It’s just a word that we use. I don’t know why he said he put it on [his eye black]. He was probably joking around with some guys on the team or somebody who was watching him. I realize the problem now, the magnitude of the problem, but I don’t think people should be that alarmed or that surprised.”

“I guess every man has to be responsible to what they do and what they say. He’s not a kid anymore. He’s a man, and he has to admit his problem and his mistake. I’m glad he stepped up and said that, but I don’t think people in Toronto or people wherever that saw the sign need to be that worried or that panicked about this. It’s a regular word for us that we use all the time.”

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