Yunel-gate

The Jays are all over the baseball news late in September but unfortunately not for their stellar play or being in the thick of the Wild Card race. For those of you who haven’t heard, it seems that Yunel Escobar played Saturday’s game vs. the Red Sox with a message written in his under-eye paint — ‘Tu ere maricon’. Which, roughly translated, is ‘You’re a fag’.

MLB is investigating and the Blue Jays have made the obligatory statements about how they do not support discrimination or hate of any kind. The Blue Jays know, as we do, that this incident won’t go away with the statements but at least they have acknowledged that the incident occurred and they will do their own due diligence to get to the bottom of it. But this is going to get (more) interesting in the coming days.

Speaking to a friend of mine who is fluent in Spanish, he confirmed the translation, but noted two things. First of all, that the meaning is meant to be playful locker room type of ribbing (kind of like the unfortunate use of the term ‘retarded’ these days) rather than a true statement of hate against the gay community, and second, that the phrasing is indicative of Caribbean Spanish.

I note these two things because I have a feeling that this was a locker room prank that went awry. This doesn’t excuse Yunel of course, but at least we can be hopeful that this doesn’t mean the Jays clubhouse is full of a bunch of hateful bigots. And also, that if Yunel didn’t write the statement himself (as is speculation in some quarters), the phrasing was meant for him in some way — what I’m saying is that we can be fairly certain that Brett Lawrie didn’t use Babelfish for this.

It will be interesting to see how this affects Yunel’s ‘likability’ index in this town, and how baseball reacts or punishes him. If the Jays were thinking of trading him (or if they are now), it certainly won’t help his value.

In any case, I actually think this reflects the worst on John Farrell. Yes, we’ve all had questions about his on-field abilities. We’ve questioned his lineups and his use of the bullpen. We’ve wondered if he’s ‘fired up’ enough to manage this team. And recently we’ve wondered about his loyalty to the Jays.

But we’ve always thought that he had control of his clubhouse. Unlike Bobby Valentine, or (allegedly) Terry Francona, we always thought he had the final word about how his players played the game and presented themselves on or off the field as members of the Toronto Blue Jays organization and a member of John Farrell’s team.

This brings up a lot of doubts about the above. We’ll wait for some statements, but I think John Farrell and his coaches have as much (if not more) explaining to do as Yunel Escobar does.

*NOTE: The Blue Jays have called a press conference tomorrow at Yankee Stadium — Escobar, Anthopoulos, Farrell and Luis Rivera will be on hand. I expect John Farrell to jump on the grenade slightly. And for Yunel to be fined or suspended in some way. The Jays have to put this one to bed quickly, with finesse, and also by making a statement to the gay community. I believe they will, just for the record.

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