During a seven-game homestand that included a three-game set versus the Twins, Astros outfielder George Springer was seen shouting a homophobic slur at umpire Ángel Hernández. Dawn Ennis of Outsports reports that Major League Baseball punished Springer in an as yet unknown way for his outburst.
On April 23, in the bottom of the eighth inning facing Tyler Duffey, Springer took a called strike three that he thought was ball four. Unhappy with Hernández’s call, Springer tossed his bat and argued with the umpire, appearing to say, “Ángel! That’s the same pitch you just called a ball.” Once he returned to the dugout, TV cameras happened to be on Springer when he clearly yelled, “F–king c–ksucker!” at Hernández.
MLB’s history of punishing players for the use of slurs is a bit spotty. The most apropos comparison would be when the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel was suspended for the first five games of the 2018 regular season after making a racist comment and gesture towards Yu Darvish, then with the Dodgers, after homering in Game 3 of the 2017 World Series.
Matt Joyce, then with the Athletics, was suspended two games by MLB for using a homophobic slur responding to a heckler in August 2017. The Blue Jays suspended outfielder Kevin Pillar for shouting a homophobic slur at Braves reliever Jason Motte in May 2017.
What is clear is that Springer wasn’t suspended. He started each of the next five games following the incident, then pinch-hit and finished out the game on April 29, and started again on the 30th, leading us to today. Springer’s punishment must have been a fine and/or a commitment to attend sensitivity training. He should have been suspended, though, especially given recent precedent and MLB’s increasing commitment to diversity.