Stupid, stupid, stupid…
But, sadly, understandable. At least for me. I’ve spent time in locker rooms and I know that the kind of stuff that happens in there is not rated PG. It’s a crude environment where, “what’s up asshat” or “hey, *slur* hows your day going?” is par for the course. Crude, offensive humor is a part of the lexicon of the clubhouse. Always has been, probably always will be. I think most people who’ve been involved with teams or groups—specifically male, young adult, privileged, elitist groups—know that though this particular event is tragic, is not all that shocking considering the demographic that created it. Again, I’m not saying I condone it, I’m simply saying that (sadly) I understand how it happened.
The nature of immaturity is what it is. I’m not saying that “boys will be boys” and so we should all just let this slide. Not at all. I’m saying that because it happened in the situation it did, I think we have to approach it with a certain measure of understanding as far as intent. I do not see this as a malicious act on the part of Yunel. I don’t even see it as a malicious act on the part of the guys who wrote it on his eye black (which, honestly, was a very lazy and sad joke, even for inside the clubhouse). Understanding the clubhouse the way I do, I don’t think this was something meant to make it outside the clubhouse walls. That’s why I feel that any sanctimonious language about burning Yunel at the stake for what was probably a bad judgement call is over board.
If this was a pastor, or a politician, I would be furious. In that scenario, one could make a strong argument for malicious intent backed by some spiritual or political agenda. I don’t see that here. What I see is an error in judgment on Yunel’s part that will cost him far more than I think he thought it would (if he thought at all). But not his job. Yunel is a valuable and cost effective chip in the Blue Jays lineup considering the production to position role he plays. Unless he’s unhappy and/or the Jays were already thinking about dealing him, I don’t see this being the reason he leaves town. Not with the off season fast approaching.
The real sin here is that he didn’t have the wherewithal to consider how this his would offend people who don’t speak the juxtaposed, surly, jagged language of the ball team before he made the choice to wear it out into the public. If you want to punish him for anything, punish him for that. And, if you’re the Jays, do it swiftly and in a way that addresses other concerns the fan base has about Yunel. When he arrived there was rumor of him being a malcontent. His body language throughout the season has been poor. He doesn’t always hustle. He looks unhappy or disinterested. Yunel now stands at the precipice of complete reputation destruction and he can go two ways with it. He can own all of his shortcomings, make glowing and heartfelt apology, and move up. Or, he can take that same attitude that got him into this situation and become the pariah of a town that is one of the most accepting and tolerant in baseball.