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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pillar Issues Apology, Jays Issue Statement and Announce Suspension

This afternoon Kevin Pillar issued a statement about the homophobic slur he used after striking out in the seventh inning of last night’s game in Atlanta. Here is the statement:

The Blue Jays followed this up with a statement of their own:

Later Pillar said even more, in speaking with reporters:

The statement from the Blue Jays did not initially indicate that any disciplinary action was coming, but at 4:30 PM it was announced that Pillar was being suspended by the team for three games. You may recall that Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games by the club near the end of the 2012 season for playing with a homophobic slur written in Spanish on his eye black.

Escobar’s display, of course, didn’t come in the heat of the moment, so perhaps that’s why the difference in the number of games received. I certainly don’t think it would have been a bad thing if they’d given Pillar three, but I suppose there’s logic there. Perhaps there’s also logic in the fact that the games Escobar missed weren’t terribly meaningful, as the club’s 2012 season was basically over by that point. Sitting Pillar now for two is probably tougher for this club to swallow than it was for the previous regime to sit Escobar for three then. But… uh… let’s not give them too much credit here, or worry about what they’re enduring too much.

Before the suspension was announced, neither written statement was receiving universal acclaim:

My hope is that Pillar’s further statements are sincere and that the Jays’ choice in disciplinary action is satisfactory, but it’s not really for me to say whether it is or isn’t.

Last summer Stacey May Fowles wrote a piece for us about the Jays’ lack of a Pride night at the ballpark, which is definitely worth revisiting today. In it she saw some progress in the fact that the club had asked Pride Toronto Board Secretary, Rachel Lauren Clark, to throw out a ceremonial first pitch last June, making Rachel the first openly trans person to throw out a ceremonial pitch for the team.

“Certainly Rachel Lauren Clark’s appearance on the mound at Rogers Stadium matters,” Stacey wrote, “but there’s more that can be done, and we can only hope this will be the start of a more comprehensive relationship between the LGBT community and the Toronto Blue Jays.”

Less than a year later and here we are. But at the very least I suppose we can be hopeful that something good — more outreach, more inclusivity — can come from it. The suggestions Stacey made in her piece would be a very good place for the Blue Jays to start.

Dwight Smith Jr. has been recalled from Buffalo to take Pillar’s place on the Jays’ roster.

  • Impossibles

    How unfortunate for the Jays that the audio was picked up. Different camera angle and there’s no “indecent”. I’m always amazed grown men still use words like this like stupid teenagers, but let’s not pretend slurs like this aren’t muttered hundreds of times each game. Hopefully this makes a few more people consider dropping comments like this from their vocabulary

    • Dillon

      And who still play that revolting “chop” multiple times a game. And who have apparently even named an outfield bar/restaurant after it.

      Pillars slur was obviously intended as derogatory, whereas at least there’s some case to be made that the Braves are “honoring” Native American culture with their BS. Anyone making that argument is wrong, dumb, and definitely white, but at least it exists?

      For me, both offenses are pretty similar. It’s frustrating that Pillar gets penalized by unfortunate camerawork for hurling an insult at one person, in the same game that tens of thousands are being encouraged to “chop”. Not frustrating as a Jays fan, but as a human being. Both are equally unacceptable, but one leads to uproar and discipline, while the other is gleefully participated in by tens of thousands of people, on live TV, 81 times a year.

      Pillar deserved his discipline, but for me this whole incident mostly highlights the hypocrisy around cultural insensitivity in sports.

      Let’s just agree to name every team after animals/inanimate objects, insult one another in race/gender/sexual orientation neutral terms, and get on with the games. Can’t we be better than this already?

      • Dillon

        You’ve honestly never heard anyone make that case before? Okay cool, I can buy that. I have a hard time believing you didn’t notice the “” around honoring though, or that you didn’t bother to read LITERALLY THE NEXT SENTENCE calling any such argument wrong and dumb.

        Forgive me for attempting to leave a tiny bit of room for nuance between denigrating an entire community of people out of ignorance rather than malice, before going on to make clear (I thought) that neither one has a place in sports or society in general. Forgot this is the Internet.

        Allow me to simplify: Pillar deserves to be disciplined. The chop and Chief Wahoo should be banned, and the Braves, Indians, Redskins, and Blackhawks (and any others I’ve forgotten) should be made to change their names. The contrast between the reaction to Pillar’s statement vs. the acceptance of the chop IN THE SAME GAME represents (to me at least) a bigger, more interesting issue than a “DUMB JOCK SAYS DUMB THING” headline.

        But hey, if you’re the type of person that can’t distinguish between Pillar being “a piece of trash” rather than an imperfect human being who made a dumb (and yes, unacceptable) mistake that he is quite possibly learning a profound lesson from, then perhaps I shouldn’t be suprised that the nuance, and overall point of my comment, was lost on you.

    • Kyball

      If I had to guess, I’m thinking at least a part of it is because it didn’t mention any disciplinary action. SO it could maybe be read as “Sorry bout that. Ok, can we move on from this now?”
      I don’t personally think that’s what the statement is saying, but I guess it could be interpreted that way. Or maybe I’m wrong and missing something.

  • Carl Jung

    Pillar is white living in a global system of white supremacy.

    Escobar is Afro-Cuban living under the same system.

    LGBT is merely the evolution of white feminism and planned parenthood.

    The white supremacist subtext of the rhetoric will never be discussed by the “liberal” media.

  • Kyball

    “It would be different, duh. That word is very clearly socially outlawed…I hear that word all the damn time at clubs and other social venues”
    Yeah, that’ the whole problem. We shouldn’t be hearing it anywhere. Just because people use it doesn’t mean it’s cool.