Yunel Escobar has served his three-game suspension for writing a gay slur ("tu ere maricon") on his eye black last Saturday, and will return to the Toronto Blue Jays lineup tonight. Friday.
Wait, didn't that happen, like, yesterday?
We've barely had time to breathe, and now Escobar is returning? Three games. Has it really been that long? Can we even remember back then, to that simpler time?
This is the problem with baseball, and a problem with things like three game suspensions, or even evaluating the severity of suspensions by number of games. Three, in a 162-game season? What was the point? Three games in hockey is a lot. It sends a message. Kind of. Three games in football is an eternity, but -- ironically -- they seem to be the only ones playing the game.
Say what you want about Roger Goodell, but he might have actually handled this properly.
Now, I'm not even sure Escobar is a homophobe. That's a label, and we have no evidence that he deserves to have it sliced into his forehead. He's not a Nazi being hunted down by Brad Pitt. Newt Gingrich is a homophobe. Emmett C. Burns is a homophobe. Chick-Fil-A is an organization of homophobes. Yunel did a homophobic thing, but that doesn't mean he's like them.
Yes, he did a homophobic thing, but it doesn't mean he only paints with one colour. People lie. It doesn't make them all liars.
Escobar wasn't suspended for being a homophobe, he was suspended because of his actions. I don't think he's afraid of gay people, because I have no proof of that. But, I do think he's an idiot, and I do have proof of that. We all do now.
However, if Tuesday's "apology" showed anything, it's that Yunel has no understanding of what he did, and he appears to have no remorse, or care, or sympathy. He seemed to believe that the only thing he did wrong was getting caught. It was a shameful service on Tuesday, and Escobar had this look on his face... like we were wasting his time, like we should apologize to him.
John Farrell looked like he had better things to do. I half-expected him to stand up at the end and say, "So, we done here?"
The Blue Jays players -- many of them -- also appeared to have little understanding of what Escobar did, or why it was wrong. Old man Omar Vizquel -- the Gandalf of the Toronto Blue Jays -- insisted that the word was used a lot amongst Latinos, so it wasn't a big deal.
So, if a word is used a lot and is meant to be a joke, then it's okay? You mean, like "faggot"?
Yunel and his teammates seemed dead-set on convincing us that the word's meaning was lost in translation -- or that it has no meaning -- and that cultural differences between Latin America and North America are to blame for a media circus that's been blown out of proportion.
He acted like innocence is a verdict. Sure, and why don't you just get us to try on the glove, too? He acted like language makes words less homophobic or hateful. But, words are words. They have meaning, and it doesn't change just because you can roll your R's.
But, it's not the culture. Everybody knows what that word maricon means now, because Yunel's arrogance begged us to find out. The Toronto Star has, on several occasions now, brought up that famous boxing story, where one boxer was beaten to death for calling the other boxer a maricon. Everybody knows what it means.
Don't try and pull the wool over our eyes. Don't lie. Because, now, everyone's just insulted that Yunel Escobar thought he was intelligent enough to fool us.
And so, after three games and only a couple of days away from the game, has Yunel Escobar even learned anything? Have the Toronto Blue Jays? Has anybody, or will we just gloss over this and treat Yunel's ignorant and offensive eye black art like it's some harmlessly racist one-liner said by Kenny Powers?
"Oh, it's funny because it's offensive!"
A situation that looked like a ridiculous one-off on Tuesday morning evolved into much more on Tuesday night, when Escobar's apology rang both shallow and hollow. Now, he's back, and we've returned to Saturday.
*This was originally posted on White Cover Magazine.