Buffalo, Homogate

So there’s bad news and good news swirling about the Blue Jays as their toilet-bowl circling season enters its final, “let’s play the spoilers” phase.

Word broke yesterday that the Jays will be relocating their AAA farm team from Las Vegas to Buffalo, essentially trading places with the Mets.   Some baseball friends and I heard rumours to this effect from Buffalo fans during a Bisons game at Coca-Cola Field this summer.  It’s something we had all wished for – having your AAA farm team as far away as Lost Wages just made no sense, especially with the frequency of call-ups this season – the travel was murder for some of these guys on the yo-yo back and forth.  The Jays may be announcing the move today, with the last roadblock having been lifted yesterday, namely the Mets agreeing to move their AAA team to Vegas (they had little choice, Buffalo is set on the Jays and were fed up with the Mets as a partner/sponsor, or whatever.)  I know what some of you are thinking, this way we have a choice of catching two minor league squads live – the one on the field here in T.O. or the one just down the road in wingland.

Seriously though, this really is good news for the organization and us fans, probably the best thing to happen in Jayland this season other than EE’s breakout season.  It may help to allay the bad news, the coming shit-storm of “Homogate”, the controversy over shortstop Yunel Escobar’s dim-witted decision to wear eye-black patches with a Spanish homophobic message spelled out on them in tiny letters – if you haven’t heard about this, I’m not making it up.

This was patently stupid of Escobar, who’s never struck me as being long on brains, even for a ballplayer.  What, given the microscopic and saturated level of media coverage these days, some of it fluent in Spanish, he thought nobody would notice, that this would go undetected?  Then why bother?  I mean, if you want to be a big hombre and reflect the supposed studly tenets of your macho Latin culture, then man up and simply say “I don’t like gays” or whatever.  This of course wouldn’t be right or meet with any approval either, but at least it wouldn’t be so cowardly and childish.

Naturally, given baseball’s past record of racial discrimination and other prejudices (from Cap Anson and Ty Cobb to Marg Schott and Calvin Griffith) and, no pun intended, its other black eyes such as dope, steroids and general greed, it has to punish Escobar, they can’t let this go.  He’ll likely be fined and suspended for a few games and generally be made an example of, and he should be.  MLB has to show that it’s trying to keep its house clean, or at least give that appearance.  There are those who think all of this is making a mountain out of a molehill and while I don’t agree, I can at least sympathize with those voices – the whole thing is just so stupid and there’s so much noise and kvetching out there already about all kinds of issues, whether real or just bullshit.  I too sometimes wish stuff like this would just not happen or go away quickly, but there will always, always be stupid people around us, be they athletes, pop stars, politicians or just plain folks.  It’s the responsibility of the not stupid among us to shout down the stupid and MLB is not stupid, occasional appearances to the contrary.

Lost in all this political gnashing of teeth and zeitgeist  though is something funny few may be willing to talk about even if they’ve noticed, but I’m always game, the edit/good taste filters are generally off.  Namely, doesn’t the idea of spelling out a homophobic message in little sparkly letters on your eye-black strike you as being, well, a little gay?  Maybe a tad Freddie Mercury?  Perhaps Yunel doth protest too much, is a little lighter in the spikes than he realizes.  Isn’t this a bit like Brett Lawrie maybe showing up at home plate for an at bat wearing a dress saying “Fairies are Silly” in sequins across the front?  Or Ricky Romero taking to the mound for his next start wearing high heels with “Homos Suck!” written along the sides in red lipstick?  Who knows, with the way he’s been pitching, maybe he should try it, minus the gay slur it couldn’t hurt.

Some may find my poking fun and finding humour in this affair to be in itself homophobic, but I beg to differ.  I’m not homophobic, I don’t even understand homophobia in this day and age.  I have all kinds of friends, gay, straight, even the odd musician.   I work with gay people, they’re part of my life.  It’s just that I find humour to be an effective antidote to hateful idiocy, the best weapon against the stupidity and dullness of prejudice.  I laugh at the ignorance shown by Escobar because to take this seriously is the next thing to legitimizing it.  It can have no legitimacy because it’s so mindless.





© 2012, Steve Wallace. All rights reserved.

3 thoughts on “Buffalo, Homogate

  1. Nice piece Steve. Decades ago, people could get away with goofy actions like this. We watched an old All In The Family episode the other night, and couldn’t believe that those sorts of conversations actually used to happen. Where are all the ‘Newfy’, ‘Wop’, and ‘Pollack’ jokes? I do not miss them, and cringe when something resembling them inadvertently crosses my path.
    Today, everything observed is instantly broadcast to the world. Who in their right mind would post a trailer to a movie that would so obviously inflame American – Christian – Jewish – Muslim antagonisms? Even though most of us may behave, and sincerely believe, in less prejudiced ways, it only takes one or two idiots (the wrong word but I can’t come up with the right one) to seriously imperil civilization.

  2. Steve, one has to situate Yunel’s stupid message in the context of his background. Years ago (1963 to 1965) I was posted at the Canadian Embassy in Havana – I’ve been married to a Cuban for almost 47 years. In “Revolutionary” Cuba, homosexuals were discriminated against and the constant butt of jokes. Allan Ginsburg, who was invited to attend a writers’ symposium, was kicked out for being too flamboyant. Years later the movie Fresas y Chocolate (Strawberries and Chocolate) was an illuminating breakthrough. When I lived in Havana, even jazz was a semi-subversive activity. Saturday afternoons I held open houses in my apartment so that my friends Chucho Valdes, a 15-year old Paquito D’Rivera, and other musicians could hear new recordings by Trane, Bill Evans, Andrew Hill, etc.

    This perspective does not excuse Yunel’s action. This simple Cuban was unthinkingly reflecting his background. He has had a traumatic lesson.

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