Yunel Escobar suspended for three games

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It was just announced that the Blue Jays have suspended Yunel Escobar for three games over his anti-gay eye black. Escobar will also participate in a sensitivity training program “in accordance with the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.” The punishment was agreed upon between the Blue Jays, the union and Major League Baseball.

It’s worth noting that Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell was suspended for two weeks for making anti-gay remarks to a fan in San Francisco last year.

If there is no other discipline involved here, I’d have to say that Escobar is getting off pretty easily.

There will be a press conference shortly.

UPDATE:  The presser just went down.  Among the highlights:

Escobar made a statement at the outset: via a translator, which made it a little disjointed, here are the highlights of his statement:

“I’m sorry for the actions of the other day … it’s not something I intended to be offensive … it’s just something I put on the sticker on my face … it was nothing intentional directed at anyone in particular.  “I have friends who are gay,” I have nothing against homosexuals … I am sorry what will happen and it will never happen again in my career. It is a lesson I have learned … I didn’t mean for this to be misinterpreted by the gay community. I apologize.”

The first question of the conference was whether anyone in the Blue Jays clubhouse noticed the lettering on the eye black. The answer: nope. He writes things on his eye black a lot, and the lettering was small, so no one noticed it.

The second question: if Escobar didn’t mean for it to be offensive, what did he truly mean?  The answer was not the most satisfying thing ever:  he just didn’t mean it. “It’s a word that is said often among the Latino community,” he said. Which … sure.  But if “people in certain community X say that word often” was a defense, nothing would ever be considered offensive. People in the Klan could say that the N-word was, “well, something that is said often on our community.”

As for that “some of my friends are gay” comment, I must give props to a reporter who followed up and asked him who.  Escobar actually said “the person who decorates my house is gay … the person who does my hair is gay.”  I don’t know if he had any other cliches at the ready, but good for him for his apparently happy life living in a television sitcom.

Oh well. I don’t think three games are going to do anything to change Yunel Escobar as a person.  But that’s not the point. The point, one would hope, is that ballplayers would keep their prejudices to themselves rather than wear them out onto the diamond and in front of TV cameras.

Video: Justin Verlander reaches career mark with 270th strikeout

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Justin Verlander is approaching the tail end of a fantastic year with the Astros — arguably one of his best in the last decade — and on Saturday, he kicked off his last regular season start at Minute Maid Park with a strikeout, his 270th of the year. While that’s still a few shy of Max Scherzer‘s league-best mark of 290, it was a new personal record for Verlander, who had yet to beat the previous career record he set with 269 strikeouts in 2009.

Verlander’s moment arrived at the top of the first inning on a seven-pitch called strikeout against the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Cole worked a 2-2 count, then fouled off a pair of 95-MPH fastballs before missing the seventh and final pitch at the top of the strike zone.

Jose Fernandez battled twice as long in the next at-bat, albeit with far more disastrous results. His 14-pitch duel against the Astros’ righty ended when he caught a fastball on his hand and was forced to come out of the game.

After expending a total of 27 pitches in the first inning, however, Verlander returned in the second to strike out the side, then logged another pair of strikeouts in the third. With six strikeouts through three innings, he boosted his season strikeout total to 275 — just a hair above fellow Houston righty Gerrit Cole (and all other AL pitchers), who previously led the team with 272 whiffs on the year.