Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SPORTS: Piling On Yunel

Yunel Escobar deserves no sympathy for the mess he created for himself with his homophobic face graffiti Saturday. There's not much new that can be said about the matter, beyond my belief that Bob McCown of The Fan 590 radio network is right. Escobar should never, ever, wear the Toronto Blue Jay uniform again.

Of course, I've been stumping for that for the last half of this season, after anointing Escobar as thisclose to being an A.L. all-star candidate 12 months ago. But over the last six months, we have seen why the Atlanta Braves were willing to not only trade the talented kid to Toronto, but to disparage him on the way out the door, which is pretty rare outside of Boston in Major League Baseball.

What I have seen is selfishness, lack of concentration, a willingness to embarass teammates (I mean, who else in your memory has wandered 50 feet out of position to call off Omar Vizquel on a pop fly? That's perennial Gold Glover Omar Vizquel, a first ballot Hall of Famer) and a sub-par performer this season. Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun notes the one instance where I started to change my point of view on the Escobar issue early in the season. He got upset at a hard sliding Baltimore Oriole and low-bridged the next runner he had a chance to intimidate. The revenge-driven throw ended up in the stands, a run scored and Escobar established his own sense of self-worth exceeded that of his team.

How about hustling to first on routine grounders? Not for Escobar, who missed out on at least one hit that I can think of. Probably more. He's been a .250 hitter all season long, despite being quite capable of hitting 25-40 points higher. The power he's shown in the past? Halved this year. And despite hot dogging and hogging, he's not on anybody's list of Gold Glove candidates this year. Seems that without babysitter Jose Bautista around full-time, the terrible tot comes out to play twerp.

So I wanted his butt on the first plane out of Toronto post-season. I had all kinds of trades envisioned for what was supposed to be a young, cost-controlled talent that could play plus defence and was a better than average offensive force for the position. I was MORE than willing to go with Adeiny Hechavarria, if trading Escobar could help net a gain in starting pitching or an upgrade at second base. All Escobar had to do was not blow up his trade value completely over the last month of this disappointing season.

And the horse's patootie couldn't do even that much.

But it does bring up a question. Is Escobar really as dumb as a brick? Or is this his deluded, self-immolating attempt to make him trade-proof? Does he love playing in Toronto SOOOO much that he's willing to do the proverbial anything to prevent Alex Anthopoulos from trading him? Hard to figure. But given the mealy-mouthed, disingenuous explanation that emanated from New York Tuesday, it's almost more comprehensible.

The debate on whether Escobar is a future Republican candidate or a clumsy liar is for the future to reveal. I suspect he's a stupid, vain athlete who was rescued from a bad situation in Atlanta and decided to repay that kindness with contempt. Contempt for gays, contempt for his teammates (culpable through lack of earlier action), contempt for his organization that pays him well, contempt for the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays and contempt for all that listened to his apology and had their intelligence insulted.

And the real tragedy, beyond the fact that he DOESN'T GET IT (and please don't ever equate employees and friends in the future, Yunel), is that he might actually be doing it to stay under the protective embrace of his good friend Jose.

I don't want him here. Toronto Blue Jay fans are in agreement. They want him gone too. IF that sounds like piling on. That he deserves it is as plain as the words on his face.

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