Yuli Gurriel's suspension an act to learn from

Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel takes batting practice before Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Game three of Major League Baseball’s World Series did not come without controversy. Houston Astros player Yuli Gurriel hit a solo home run off Los Angeles Dodger’s pitcher Yu Darvish and trotted around the bases in what was similar to most home run celebrations. The controversy arose when Yuli Gurriel returned to his dugout and clearly made a racist gesture mocking the Japanese Yu Darvish by pulling at his eyes to make them squint while also saying the word “chinito,” which is translates to “little chinese boy”. This was caught on live tv and outrage by many quickly ensued.

Major League Baseball released a statement quickly after the game that they’d look into the situation and it was announced shortly after that Gurriel would be suspended for the first five games of the 2018 season without pay. Gurriel released the following apology: "During last night's game, I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible. I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it. I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game." 

I am definitely not one who believes in blowing situations out of proportion. I am however sick of the argument that just because someone was raised in a different culture that they somehow can do or say whatever they want. I believe in forgiveness and will take Yuli Gurriel at his word that he didn’t mean any harm and is truly sorry. However, I completely agree with MLB’s decision to suspend Gurriel for five games because it takes a strong posture against this racist behavior. What is very alarming to me is the idea that what Gurriel did is somehow ok or no big deal because he grew up in a different society. I read many posts under articles describing the incidents in which people were arguing that Gurriel simply didn’t know any better and that “chinito” is a commonly used phrase in Cuba. So evidently a grown adult doesn’t understand what racism is just because he has lived in Cuba most of his life? In my opinion, that's not only ignorant; it's condescending to the people of Cuba.

I am not advocating for Gurriel to give up his culture or beliefs or anything of the sort. A matter of fact the diversity of America is one of the things that makes it the greatest country to ever exist. But it should just be crystal clear to everyone that comes to America that “old habits die hard.” Our country has clearly had issues with racism but every single day is a step in the right direction to eradicate racism from our country. Every incident like this one should be met with strong condemnation and I applaud MLB for doing so.

Thankfully there is a silver lining is this situation. The way MLB and Yu Darvish handled the situation was excellent. Yu Darvish was an absolute class act and his statement after the incident proves this. "Including him and I, nobody's perfect. Everybody's different. We've just got to learn from it. He made a mistake, and we've just got to learn from it. We are all human beings." http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2741198-rob-manfred-explains-delaying-yuli-gurriels-suspension-for-racist-gesture. In a time where everything is so polarized and divisive,  Darvish’s statement is exactly what we needed to hear. Here is a guy who was just the victim of a blatantly racist act yet he doesn't meet it with anger or hate. He simply argues that yes, it was wrong, but lets learn from it. I am grateful that in a time where so much anger and divisiveness is being perpetuated, a situation like this one can be used as an act to learn from to move our nation towards a racist free society.


Alexander Grzelak is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at alexander.grzelak@uconn.edu.