As soon as footage of Yuli Gurriel making fun of Yu Darvish’s Asian heritage began making the rounds, the Astros player became Public Enemy No. 1 among Dodgers supporters. So when the World Series returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday, fans there were more than ready to boo the living daylights out of Gurriel.
As it turned out, Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill was more than willing to give them all the time they needed.
Getting the start in a do-or-die Game 6 for Los Angeles, Hill twice stepped off the mound for extended pauses when Gurriel came to the plate. It did not strike anyone on social media as a coincidence and Hill confirmed as much after the Dodgers’ victory forced Game 7.
“That’s a subject that’s disheartening and unfortunately, I don’t think the punishment really fits the action,” Hill said of Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision to suspend Gurriel for the first five games of next season, keeping him eligible for the Series. “And I think that, rightfully so, the fans spoke out and understood what was going on. So I gave them their time to voice their opinion.’’
Gurriel, who flew out in the at-bat and went 1-for-4 in the Astros’ 3-1 loss, got in trouble for making a racially insensitive gesture in the Astros’ dugout During Game 3. Afterward, the 33-year-old, Cuban-born player said through a translator, “I was commenting to my [teammates] that I hadn’t had any good luck against Japanese pitchers. … I didn’t think anybody would think about what I meant [in that way]. I offer my apologies to baseball and anyone offended. If [Darvish] feels offended, I want to apologize to him.”
Saying, “There is no place in our game for any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night,” Manfred announced the suspension Saturday, angering Dodgers fans.
According to reports, Gurriel had requested to meet with Darvish and apologize in person to the pitcher, who is of Japanese and Iranian descent.
“I told him, ‘Hey, you don’t have to do that, because you made a comment, and like, I’m not that mad,’ ” Darvish, 31, said Tuesday through a translator (via the AP). “So I really didn’t care much about that.”
Many among the 56,000 at Dodger Stadium cared quite a bit, and, with Hill’s help, they had plenty of time to let Gurriel know about it.
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