Was It A Joke Or was it "Lost In Translation?" - Blue Jays' Yunel Escobar learned the hard way. • Latino Sports


Was It A Joke Or was it “Lost In Translation?” – Blue Jays’ Yunel Escobar learned the hard way.


Yunel during happier times (Photo courtesy of CNN.com)

El Bronx – Was It A Joke, or was it “lost in translation? Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar learned that what we say and do in Spanish is not always interpreted the same way in English. Yunel thought it was a joke to write, “TU ERES MARICON” (Your a faggot) on his eye-black stickers that are sometimes worn under the eyes to reduce the sun’s glare. His action has led to a flurry of criticism and actions including a press conference to apologize, a three-day suspension and three days of docked pay that will be donated to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Yunel Almenares Escobar is a 30-year-old Cuban born who is single and who resides in Miami, Florida. He attended Matires de Barbados School in Havana, Cuba. Like many young men his age I have been with in Puerto Rico and in Cuba I can attest that the word, “MARICON” is many times used to describe many other things other than its official derogatory meaning.  It can be used to mean, “Dumb, Idiot, Weak,” or to add emphasis when you want a friends undivided attention.

In fact I have a close Puerto Rican friend that I have known for over 30 years that still to this day will leave a voice mail, “oye maricón te llamado mil veces y no me devuelve mi llamada.” Literal translation: “Hey faggot I’ve called you a million times and you have not returned my call.” I laugh and at no time do I feel offended because I know he is not calling me a faggot, he uses the word to show his displeasure with me not returning his call in a joking matter. Throughout my 24 years covering baseball I have heard that same word many times in a clubhouse, dugout and on the field, but only among Latino players and only to each other in a joking manner.

Growing up in the South Bronx hood I can remember countless descriptions used to call someone with that word and a few others that if translated for their meaning would also make non-Spanish speakers react. Therefore, I believe that Yunel has learned his lesson, just as my friend will probably not say “maricón” to a non-friend who has not returned his call, or use it in a business meeting to get someone’s attention. Yunel should have never written his personal cultural “joke’ for the world outside of his intimate Spanish speaking world to see.

Perhaps this is one of the many “lost in translation” words and actions that will continue to occur as our growing Latino community begins to spill over into the rest of the English speaking society.

What do you think?

Read more and see the video interview: SOURCE

About Julio Pabón

Julio is President and Founder of Latino Sports LLC., the parent company of Latinosports.com. Julio is a product of the South Bronx where he still lives and runs his businesses. Julio has written and has been interviewed for numerous publication and networks on sports & political issues. He has been an activist promoting social justice and respect for all communities. He is a recognized motivational speaker, was an adjunct professor of American History and presently volunteer's as a lecturer in local South Bronx High Schools. His primary goal is to make Latinosports.com a multi-facet sports portal that will engender social and economic empowerment to the Latino community.

  • El panfletero

    As the essence of the word in a Latino very homophobic culture is to belittle, demean or plainly diss homosexuals and when used onto others, in any other context, is an undignified way of relating to others, to wit, disrespectful despite its social class use and etiquette acceptance as described Mr. Julio Pabón. It is basically a lumpen etiquette that in a working class or or poor setting of poor self-esteem, has become a self-perpetuating matrix of internalized self (and others) put downs. As people from these ranks ascend in social class or position, they tend to shed this etiquette into one of dignity. However, this transformation need not wait as people learn affirming values and elevate themselves to a higher spiritual and cultural level. And Escobar wrote “TU ERE MARICON,” and come on, with that excellent educational system in Cuba, get that grammar straight.

  • Mucaro

    When making a funny…goes wrong….Yunel’s got jokes…shall we compare the word Maricon to the N word ? Oh no !!! Don’t you dare go there !!! I disagree 100% with the present day use of the N word and feel that such a word should not exist in the vocabulary of our youth. Especially when i walk into a store and hear three teenagers say the word about 50 times in the amount of time it takes me to buy a sangweech de hamon y queso. My people came from mother Africa too and i am offended.
    Now onto the word Maricon. Latinos have also chosen to accept words that often times serve to demean. Maricon, palomo, pariguayo, wele…. to name a few. When do we draw the line ? A proffessional Baseball Player writing such immature nonsense on his face, of all places. That’s just as bad as one of our young ladies getting a tramp stamp that reads “the baddest bitch” and walking around proud of it. My mother raised me different. She was quick to cock her arm back and hit me with one of her “mira fresco” bofetadas….
    Maricon has several meanings yes it does and honestly i have also used it amongst friends and/or family to mean idiot in a funny way. Now to expect people outside of the latino culture to accept the word as a joke is another level of ignorance all together. Anything and everything we do no matter how innocent or ignorant is under a microscope. Especially when your making money. As long as we keep throwing our own culture under the bus, we give credence to the negative stereotypes used to identify us. Shame on you Yunel Escobar for being so ignorant that you once again made it easy to call us all maricones, homosexual or not.

  • This is wrong, in my opinion he shouldn’t be penalized for using a word that every Spanish person would know means more then just a faggot, although the MLB is run by mostly white people then I understand they won’t know which phrase he was using either faggot or idiot.etc., but yeah he should go and give an appology speech but other then that he should be suspended… Still that’s hilarious how he would do that lmao!!!! (my opinion)

  • I feel like theres a time and place to use jokes but the baseball diamond isn’t one of them.
    Being from the Bronx my friends and I and many others use the N word as a way to say friend, person etc etc.
    Same thing with the word he used. A joke can be taken too far and that is exactly what he did. Like I said, there is a time and place for jokes but something so public such as the baseball diamond isn’t one of them.

    • 134531

      Maricon mints Maricon no matter how you use it.

      • 134531

        Probably that was his way to come out of the closets

  • Blanca

    The controversy over the words “TU ERES Maricon” is a word used in many ways in the Latin community. Yes when use to hurt someone it can offend the person. In the way he used it was not used in a derogatory way. They are surely taking it out of context but, as Julio said we grew listening to this word and it is not offensive unless used other wise.

  • José

    This whole episode teaches us several things. For one, they have to do better training to prepare young Latinos who immigrate here to play baseball about the American dominant culture and the white dominant baseball folks need to better understand a bit more about the growing Latino baseball players. I see everyone agrees that what Yunel did was dumb, but 3 days suspension? Baseball needs to to loosen up.

  • BxHector

    The trouble with words whether in Englsih or Spanish is that problems occur more due to the listener’s perception than the speaker’s intent. Now after the fact (and Ynuel’s being penalized) we may never know what he intended or why. Two things can be learned: first, it’s not a good idea if you’re in the public spotlight to use language that may be offensive or distasteful to some segment of the population. Second, nothing is without limits and some limits you have to impose yourself. You can’t yell fire in a movie theater when there isn’t any and you can’t publicly call someone a crook unless its true. We all have a responsibility to limit our words and actions if even there’s just a possibiltiy that the words or actions might insult or hurt somebody or group. Mitt Romney is learning the same lesson.

  • Liz

    I am not convinced this was an issue of “lost in translation”. We have to stop using derogatory words as “fun” terminology. It gives the wrong message to our children. Our culture is not very tolerant of the gay community. It is time that we stop using words that are hurtful and at times inflammatory! Let’s set a better standard for ourselves!

  • Clarissa

    This one is a hard one to have an opinion on. He wasn’t making this statement directly to someone. The fact of the matter is that it is does have several meanings depending on how it is used. I think that those that aren’t familiar with puertorican slang shouldn’t judge. Now should he have known better knowing how any non-puertorican would obviously think he was trying to insult someone, maybe. Why is this different than any American saying any of their lost in translation words that maybe insulting to others. Was this merely because he is an athlete and it was to make a point? Why write that and not something positive? I don’t think this has anything to do with being derrogotory to anyone in particular. I think sometimes some people get to emotional instead of verifying the details first. How is it that people get it feel insulted about something that has nothing to do with them? I think we may never know the reason behind why he did it, but I’m sure it will not happen again.

    • Julio Pabón

      I know that is why I had to write something. What he did was stupid, but “no era pa tanto” because he was not directing his comments to the Gay community.