by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY Sports
Yunel Escobar delivered his message. Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays responded with one of their own, a blunt, forceful directive that said: Homophobia will not be tolerated.
Escobar, the Blue Jays' starting shortstop, was suspended three games for wearing what the team called "an unacceptable message'' on his eyeblack during Saturday's game.
The players association was consulted on the matter and won't appeal the suspension.
A photo of Escobar's eyeblack, sporting a sentence with a Spanish-language slur against gays, was posted online Monday, sparking debate on social media and spurring baseball to investigate.
Escobar met with reporters before Tuesday's game at Yankee Stadium and said through coach Luis Rivera that the slur on his face was "just a joke."
"I agree with the suspension. I don't have any problem with that. â?¦ I'm embarrassed," said Escobar, a native of Cuba who came to the United States as a teenager. "I'm sorry for my actions of the other day. â?¦ I don't have anything against homosexuals. I have friends who are gay."
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said education, more than any punitive measure, is the key to avoiding similar incidents in the future.
"Suspending the player doesn't fix the problem," he said.
Said Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement: "I consistently say that baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and that I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game's diverse fan base deserves. Mr. Escobar has admitted that his actions were a mistake, and I am hopeful he can use this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to educate himself and others that intolerance has no place in our game or society."