MLB Column: Gurriel suspension should have been immediate

Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel celebrates after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning of Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel celebrates after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning of Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

I’m sure I can’t be alone in expressing the utter disgust I felt after seeing what Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel did to mock Dodgers’ pitcher Yu Darvish. Gurriel, a recent defection from Cuba, was caught on camera pulling his eyes in a slanted manner and muttering a racist term. Darvish, a Japan native, was the clear target.

Gurriel issued an apology and Darvish accepted it with no problem. Darvish was mature and, in his maturity, he could not express outrage. We, as fans, are supposed to express that for him. Players are supposed to express that for him. The commissioner was supposed to express that for him.

Yet, the day after the gesture, commissioner Robert Manfred issued a five-game suspension, to begin at the start of the 2018 season. To Manfred, this made sense. The appeals process would have prevented Gurriel from missing any World Series games anyway. However, it feels like the principle of the suspension was more important.

Gurriel was caught on camera. His reputation is already damaged. Personally, I would lose what little respect I have left for him if he were to try appealing this suspension. What he did was undeniable and there is absolutely no way around it. He already confessed. He already apologized.

Manfred was also concerned about punishing the entire Astros team based on the actions of one person, but that is exactly what needs to happen. The MLB needs to make it clear they are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior, and they are not going to tolerate teammates who are tolerating this behavior.

Baseball is a primarily white sport. We as fans have already seen the effects racism can have on the game. Whether it be Bruce Maxwell kneeling, or Hyun Soo Kim and Adam Jones being subjected to racial slurs and thrown garbage from Blue Jays fans, something is systematically wrong.

The MLB has a problem and they need to start taking strong steps to dealing with it. Gurriel’s suspension, while still a step, is not nearly as strong as it should have been. This political culture is toxic and now, more than ever, racist behavior needs to be punished.

The best part of this story is Yu Darvish. He handled the situation with forgiveness from the very start. He was not offensive nor offended. He just wanted to get back to playing baseball. This was an incredibly mature response for someone who had been insulted on a national stage. Darvish is a class act and he gets a lot of credit for minimizing the impact this story has had on the World Series.


Rachel Schaefer is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.schaefer@uconn.edu.