Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen believes him. And after Escobar was handed a three-game suspension without pay for the act, Guillen recalled the time he was forced to apologize for using a gay slur in a profanity-laced tirade against former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti. Guillen was fined for the outburst and was handed a five-game suspension by the Marlins for controversial comments he made about Cuban leader Fidel Castro in April.
“I went through it. That’s not an easy situation to go through,” Guillen,
a fellow Cuban, told the Palm Beach Post before the Marlins hosted the Braves on Tuesday night. “My situation was worse because I said it. I said it to a media member.”
Escobar faced a swift backlash from local and national media outlets and gay rights organizations.
Toronto Star columnist Cathal Kelly called Escobar’s apology press conference “credulous stuff from someone who is either bright as a box of hammers or a liar.”
“Three games is meaningless,” Kelly wrote of the suspension. “It’s worse than that — it’s an acknowledgment that wrong was done, but a wrong judged so perfunctory that it requires only a sop to the whiners.”
Escobar’s suspension will cost him more than $92,000 of his $5 million annual salary. For comparison’s sake, the NBA fined Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant $100,000 for directing a homophobic slur at a referee in 2011. Later in the season, Chicago Bulls center was docked $50,000 for hurling an anti-gay slur at a fan during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. Neither player was suspended.
Guillen addressed the specific Spanish word Escobar wrote, saying, as have others who’ve defended Escobar, that he has used the word in a joking manner.
“I think this kid did it without intending to hurt anybody. I think he did it just for fun. But in our country we do that,” Guillen said. “I know he didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings. Nobody is that stupid.
“To be honest with you, in my house we say that word every 20 seconds. I got three kids. It’s how you say it.”
Escobar said his salary would be donated to the gay sports advocacy group “You Can Play,” which was founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke. A number of high profile athletes including several NHL players have publicly voiced their support of the group, including numerous NHL teams and players. A portion of Escobar’s pay will also be directed to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post contained the offending word, which is not Post policy. — CB