Bluejays Shortstop Yunel Escobar Writes Spanish Anti-Gay Slur On His Eye Black

The NFL might be embracing inclusion and equality, but at least on major-league baseball player is striking out: Toronto Bluejays shortstop Yunel Escobar took to the field on Saturday with “tu ere maricon” (“you are a faggot”) scrawled on the eye block under his eyes.

The message was first noticed by Flickr user James G, who took a photo of it from behind the Toronto dugout.

Eye black has long been used by players to help block out the sun’s glare, but it’s become popular with some players to scribble brief messages in the dark smudge, like Tim Tebow‘s “John 3:16.”

It’s been suggested that another player , asked by Escobar to write something,  sneaked the slur in. But as Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Kaduk explains, eye black comes in strips, enabling players to write on it themselves before applying.

Escobar, 30, was out with the “flu” on Sunday—it remains to be seen if he will make a statement about the insult, or if he will face any consequences from Bluejays management or MBL.though ESPN is reporting that the league is looking into the matter.

We could blather on about how disgusting this is, no matter who wrote it. But James, the Flickr user who posted the photo in the first place, wrote it best:

I have been conflicted about posting this picture since last night. I have a privileged seat near the Blue Jays dugout and allows me a close up of some pretty awesome moments. This one, however, is really disappointing. For those whose Spanish isn’t fluent, have never seen Scarface or fail at google, Yunel’s eyeblack “TU ERE MARICON” translates to “You’re a faggot.”

There are some small Spanish locales where it translates to “pussy” not “faggot” but that’s a very small possibility.

I started asking myself why I wouldn’t just post this image right away. It needs to be seen and it needs to be known that this is not okay. I was concerned that the players may be able to recognize that this was me who took this picture and would therefore rebuff the whistleblower but this is something Escobar wore on the field. He knew the possibility that a member of the Red Sox noticed it and commented on it, or even the umpiring crew. This is a bad word. It’s a homophobic slur. It may have made a closeted Blue Jay/Red Sox very upset inside. There are a million insults he could have used that would have been funny, this was not one of them.

I was also worried that some Blue Jays fans would accuse me of “rocking the boat” when I should have just ignored it, but that’s a problem with progress. When you hear or see something wrong, it’s up to everyone to let people know that that’s not right. “That’s gay”, “You’re gay”, “You’re a fag”, “You’re a faggot” are not acceptable insults in 2012. They are slurs and we need to get rid of them. When our sports heroes proliferate their usage, our progress takes a step back.

How did it happen? Did Yunel write it? Did someone else write it and Yunel put it on anyway because he found it funny? Would he have ever gotten away with it if it was in English? Was Yunel’s “flu” on Sunday the truth or disciplinarian action? There are Spanish speaking coaches who should have recognized and nixed this immediately as well.

I like Yunel a lot, he’s the one who pays me the most notice when I’m at the games. He points to his fans, tips his cap and recognizes the support he is given. This was a mistake I hope he learns and he will never make again.

UPDATE: Cyd Zeigler at OutSports clued us in that Blue Jays management issued a statement about the Escobar situation:

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.

Alex Anthopoulos, Sr. VP Baseball Operations and General Manager will be available to the media tomorrow afternoon at Yankee Stadium and we expect him to be joined by Yunel Escobar, Manager John Farrell and Coach Luis Rivera. Details and location for the media availability will be announced tomorrow.

We’ll report back after the press conference.

Photos: James G, Keith Allison