UPDATE: Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has suspended Houston Astros player Yuli Garriel for five games without pay in the 2018 season for his racially insensitive actions in Friday night’s World Series game.
Gurriel will have to undergo sensitivity training, and the Astros said they would donate his salary for the missed games to charities, including at least one supporting diversity efforts.
Gurriel had just returned to his dugout Friday after hitting a home run against Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, who is part Japanese. Once there, TV cameras caught him pulling at the corners of his eyes and referring to a “Chinito,” a term considered derogatory toward Asians. Social media erupted.
Manfred said Gurriel “expressed remorse” when they met Saturday, adding that he also met with owners and executives from teams and players’ union representatives. The commissioner said they were unanimous that Gurriel’s actions were indefensible. The union later said it would not appeal the decision, but would have no further comment.
Gurriel will not miss any World Series games. Questioned about that, Manfred said, “I used my best judgment as to where the appropriate disciplinary level fell,” Manfred said.
Meanwhile, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair released a second apology after meeting with his players. However, accounts indicated the team still planned to meet tonight to decide on a protest of his remarks.
McNair released a second statement Saturday afternoon on his prior remarks that characterized national anthem protests as “inmates running the prison.” McNair claimed he was “referring to the relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making significant strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years.”
He added: “I am truly sorry to the players for how this has impacted them and the perception that it has created of me which could not be further from the truth. Our focus going forward, personally and as an organization, will be towards making meaningful progress regarding the social issues that mean so much to our players and our community.”
Two separate racially insensitive incidents dominated the sports world on Saturday, as Houston Astros player Yuli Gurriel and Houston Texans football owner Bob McNair both issued apologies for their prior actions – Gurriel for a Friday night gesture and comments demeaning Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish of the Los Angeles Dodgers, McNair for referring to NFL players as “inmates” during a mid-week meeting.
On the baseball side, Gurriel had just returned to his dugout Friday after hitting a home run against Dodgers pitcher Darvish. Once there, TV cameras caught him pulling at the corners of his eyes and referring to a “Chinito,” a term considered derogatory toward Asians. Houston went on to win the game 5-3, taking a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
When cameras caught Gurriel in the dugout making the gesture and comment, social media erupted. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is expected in Houston and will likely issue some punishment to Gurriel.
Gurriel, a Cuban player, later apologized for his actions and comments. “I just feel bad,” Gurriel said through an interpreter. “If anybody got offended over there, it was not my intention.” Gurriel played in Japan in 2014 and claimed he was joking with teammates about his prior lack of success against Japanese pitchers in the major leagues.
In the football incident, Houston Texans team owner McNair met with his players on Saturday morning to apologize for remarks made during NFL meetings in New York. The meetings were called to address the ongoing national anthem protests, and during them, McNair expressed the notion that the NFL could not have “inmates running the prison,” according to news accounts.
The instant furor over the characterization resulted in McNair apologizing to the players attending the meeting. About 10 Texans players walked out of their practice on Friday after hearing of the remarks, although several later returned. Despite McNair apologizing in the media, Houston players were reportedly still upset, and are said to still be considering a protest at their game Sunday versus the Seattle Seahawks.
Hoping to make things right, McNair addressed the team this morning. “I know they were upset,” McNair told the Houston Chronicle. “I wanted to answer their questions. I told them if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t use that expression.”