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Asian Americans Upset it Took so Long for Pro Baseball to Suspend Yuli Gurriel for Racist Gesture

AP Paul Sancya
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Some Asian Americans are registering their ire over what they say is the lenient treatment that Major League Baseball delivered to Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, for an inappropriate gesture made at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish.

Gurriel was censured for mouthing the word “Chinito,” which is said to mean “little Chinese boy” in the player’s homeland of Cuba, during the second inning of Game 3 of this year’s World Series. Gurriel quickly apologized for the gesture saying that he knows that Yu Darvish is of Japanese descent but that in Cuba, all Asians are called “Chinese:”

“I didn’t want to offend anybody,” Gurriel said in October. “I don’t want to offend him or anybody in Japan. I have a lot respect. I played in Japan.”

For his part, Darvish accepted Gurriel’s apology.

“No one is perfect. That includes both you and I. What he [did] today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, this is a giant step for mankind,” Darvish said.

“Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everyone’s big love,” the pitcher added.

By some measure, MLB acted quickly. Before Game 4 of the series was played, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Gurriel would be handed a five-game suspension to last for the first five games of the 2018 season.

But now, the suspension is being called an inadequate response to the severity of the racist gesture, according to The Atlantic.

David Inoue, the executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), is one representative of the Asian community who is unsatisfied with the suspension.

“MLB did drop the ball on this by not doing something during the World Series,” Inoue said in a statement. “There were some people who were calling for a suspension for the rest of the World Series. But one game, that sends the message that look, this is an issue that is more important than the game, that is above the competition of this game and strikes to the core of the values of the organization. They made the value judgment that, ‘Racism is going to be OK, and we’ll accept it in this situation.'”

Don Yee, a Chinese-American sports agent, agreed saying that MLB should have suspended Gurriel during the World Series and that the five-game break at the beginning of next season was too lenient.

“…I felt that if the commissioner had issued a one-game suspension during the World Series, for me, as an Asian-American, it would have said that Major League Baseball is a game of honor, irrespective of how big the World Series is,” Yee told The Atlantic.

Yee added that if Darvish were black, and Gurriel had unleashed a racial epithet on a black man, the player would have been cast out of the World Series immediately. Yee feels that MLB revealed a double standard.

“In my own personal opinion,” Yee said, “if you were to canvass the Asian-American population, I would be surprised if it was less than nearly a 100 percent that yes, for whatever reason, there would seem to be different treatment of Asians when it comes to issues such as the one that occurred during the World Series.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston

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