Yunel Escobar’s eye black contained gay slur

Kevin Kaduk

Yunel Escobar has always been a controversial player, though the source of the public's angst has mostly been derived from the difference between expectations and actual production.

The Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, however, finds himself in a bit of hot water as it has been pointed out that Escobar took the field on Saturday with a gay slur printed in Spanish on his eye black. The "tu ere maricon" (sic) can be translated to "you are a faggot" and was first pointed out by @james_in_to_, a Jays fan who took a similar picture from behind the Toronto dugout. One Spanish professor tells the Toronto Star the term can be interpreted a few different ways though none of them are acceptable:

"It is derogatory, but it's not necessarily homophobic," said Maria Cristina Cuervo, a professor of Spanish at the University of Toronto.

Escobar has some explaining to do, but there is some reason to reserve judgment. Former Jays pitcher Dirk Hayhurst believes it to be a clubhouse prank and that someone else may have written the term on the strips— which basically just means there's a different source for such blatant homophobia within the Jays clubhouse. There's also the fact that Escobar sometimes wears eye black with funny sayings, so this could be out of character. (These, for instance, read "CHILLING")

Here's the thing, though: Eye black now comes in a strip or sticker form and players can write motivational sayings (think Tim Tebow) before applying themselves. There would be no need for Escobar to ask another player to write on his face. The handwriting in the "CHILLING" picture also matches the handwriting from the photo above.

No matter the explanation, it goes without saying that Escobar needs to address this and apologize if necessary. The Blue Jays released a statement on Monday night saying "the Toronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday's game. The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter."

Escobar is expected to attend a 3:30 pm ET news conference on Tuesday with GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell in attendance.

UPDATE: Escobar has been suspended for three games without pay for "the result of his decision to display an unacceptable message while participating in a Major League Game." Escobar will attend sensitivity training and his lost pay will be directed toward You Can Play and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. More to come.

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