Blue Jays' Yunel Escobar plays with homophobic slur on face
Published Monday, September 17, 2012 8:25PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 17, 2012 10:56PM EDT
A firestorm erupted over social media Monday evening after an image was published online showing Toronto Blue Jays infielder Yunel Escobar with a homophobic slur written into his eye black.
The image was published to photo-sharing site Flickr by James Greenhalgh, who was taking shots of Saturday afternoon’s Jays game against the Boston Red Sox from his vantage point near the team’s dugout at the Rogers Centre.
The close-up image of Escobar’s face clearly shows his eye black patches with a message written on in white, “Tue Ere Maricon,” which translates to “You are a f****t.”
In a message accompanying the photo, Greenhalgh said he was worried about posting the photograph, but ultimately decided “it needs to be known that this is not okay.”
Greenhalgh went on: “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.”
Greenhalgh told CP24 reporter Cristina Tenaglia that he was both upset and disappointed when he discovered the slur on his photo.
“I was really disappointed that not only he got away with that, but that the other Spanish players and coaches and organization approved or didn’t mind it or… I don’t know how you would say it,” he said.
Greenhalgh said that while he initially was reluctant to post the photos, the majority of feedback he’s received has been positive.
The Jays’ fan and season’s ticket holder said the incident does not really change his opinion of the organization and he hopes to see the management take a stand in support of the LGBT community.
In response to the photos, the Toronto Blue Jays issued a statement distancing themselves from Escobar’s actions on Monday evening.
“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,” read the statement.
The statement also said Escobar will speak to the media with officials from the team including manager John Farrell and coach Luis Rivera at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
A spokesperson for Major League Baseball also told USA Today that the league is also probing the incident.
The photo caught the attention of media across North America and made the rounds on Twitter, with some fans condemning the message, while others wondered if Escobar had been the one to write it or was the victim of a prank. Others suggested alternate, yet obscure, meanings that would make the expression only slightly less of an insult.
One Twitter user, @zuzuhaha, conveyed her disappointment. “I followed the @BlueJays this season but now I’ve been reminded why it’s a mistake to cheer for jocks.”
Twitter user @AmandaBlake9 said, “I’m ashamed to think that anyone on the @BlueJays allowed him to take the field with this on his face.”
Escobar did not play in Sunday’s game. The team blamed the flu, but the image had fans questioning whether he was benched for disciplinary reasons.
Escobar is hitting .251 for the season, with 9 homeruns and 49 RBIs in 132 games.