Jenny Dial Creech
›› Gurriel’s quick apology a stark contract to McNair’s reaction in pair of controversies.
Two controversies bring two reactions: Gurriel’s quick apology stands in stark contrast to McNair’s
Two events marred what should have been remembered as a historic day in Houston sports.
On Friday, the Astros won the city’s first World Series game.
Earlier that day, two Texans skipped practice, presumably over irresponsible remarks made by owner Bob McNair.
If that weren’t enough, the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel stained his home run in Game 3 against the Dodgers by making a racially insensitive and highly inappropriate gesture in the dugout.
Neither action is forgivable. Both stole the spotlight from a day Houstonians should have celebrated.
One of the universal beauties of sports is that they bring people together. Lately, there have been too many instances where they divide.
McNair’s and Gurriel’s actions will be compared because of their proximity in time and the racially insensitive nature of both, but the situations aren’t the same.
To be crystal clear, Gurriel and McNair made errors. Neither should be excused.
But in Gurriel’s case, Major League Baseball, the Astros and Gurriel responded to the situation quickly and admirably. The hope moving forward is that people can learn from this unfortunate incident.
The gesture was awful. There’s no way around it.
The video of him went viral almost immediately. Gurriel used his fingers to act as if he were “slanting” his eyes and appeared to say “Chinito,” which translates to “little Chinese boy” after hitting a home run off Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish.
It was shocking to witness. An international game
Particularly after a wonderful moment when a Cuban player hit a home run off a JapaneseIranian player in Texas.
That’s a moment that truly defines the internationality of baseball. That’s something to celebrate. In a world with so much tension and so many issues, this sport brings together different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.
And Gurriel tarnished it.
The Astros won the game 5-3, but the focus shifted to Gurriel’s response.
He was remorseful and seemed sincere and genuine.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch made no excuses for Gurriel’s behavior. Nor did general manager Jeff Luhnow.
Darvish handled the incident with incredible grace, acknowledging the gesture was offensive but urging everyone to learn from it. Everyone can learn something from Darvish, who couldn’t have been more classy.
Gurriel was set to meet with and apologize to Darvish before Saturday’s Game 4.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred issued a five-game suspension to Gurriel to be served at the start of the 2018 season. He will also undergo sensitivity training during the offseason. Luhnow said Gurriel’s salary during the suspension would go to charity.
It’s understandable that many think there should have been an immediate suspension, but the reasoning Manfred gave was sound. He also suggested the other 24 Astros not be punished for Gurriel’s actions.
It will continue to create controversy, but it is an appropriate punishment that we can only hope will teach Gurriel that actions have consequences.
As well as this was handled, it can’t stop here. It won’t mean anything if other players, fans and children who look at these players as role models don’t learn from this. Different perspectives
Gurriel can claim some ignorance. He came to the United States last year from Cuba and has worked to assimilate into a new culture. That being said, it truly is his responsibility to educate himself on as much as he can, including what is offensive to the new culture.
Gurriel can and should learn from this experience.
But McNair cannot claim ignorance.
On Friday, ESPN released an account of last week’s NFL owners meetings, during which McNair made the comment, “We can’t have inmates running the prison,” in regard to the recent and growing national anthem protests across the NFL.
The choice of words is irresponsible, careless and inexcusable.
Remember, the source of the protests stems from players making a statement about police brutality against AfricanAmericans. So to use a saying that compares the athletes to criminals is reprehensible.
McNair, who has been an NFL owner for nearly two decades, should know better.
It’s not just about the choice of words. It’s about creating more division between the owners and the players.
He made a statement following President Donald Trump’s comments in September when virtually the entire league reacted. The Texans were playing in New England and he locked arms in unity with them for the anthem. He spoke highly of his players’ character and intelligence at the time.
This statement during a gathering of NFL owners negates the respect he showed players in September.
It would have even if he had chosen different words. The terms “inmates” and “prison” certainly make this worse, but it would have also been bad for him to say players shouldn’t have a say in what happens in the league. That would be disrespectful.
He also made a statement after the fact that backpedaled and said he was referring to the league office when talking about the “inmates.” McNair apologizes
It was an attempt to take away the negative attention he had brought upon himself, when the first reaction needed to be an apology to the players.
McNair apologized again Saturday, publicly and in person to his players, but it might be too little, too late. The NFL is extremely polarized and his comments made things worse in Houston, where Texans players have stood and been respectful during the national anthem.
It will not be surprising if anyone from the team protests in Seattle during the anthem Sunday.
Navigating through incidents like these and trying to move forward is getting harder because of the volume of them.
But the conversations resulting from them are important. Learning from the mishaps of owners, coaches, players and others who hold the respect and attention of millions is important.
Let’s hope both incidents that tarnished what was otherwise a special day for Houston sports will bring awareness and constructive dialogue rather than more division and polarization.
The Astros’ Yuli Gurriel hits into a double play in the second inning Saturday night. His actions in the dugout after homering in Game 3 resulted in a five-game suspension to be served in 2018.