Yunel Escobar suspended for anti-gay message

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Yunel Escobar suspended for anti-gay message

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Yunel Escobar insisted he meant no insult, reiterating that the words he wrote were supposed to be "just a joke."The Toronto Blue Jays had a different read, suspending their starting shortstop for three games on Tuesday for wearing eye-black displaying a homophobic slur in Spanish during a game last weekend against Boston.Escobar apologized to his team and "to all those who have been offended.""It was not something I intended to be offensive," he said through a translator. "It was not anything intended to be directed at anyone in particular."Escobar said he wrote the message 10 minutes before Saturday's home game on his eye-black, a sticker players wear under their eyes to reduce sun glare. The 29-year-old Cuban said he frequently puts messages there -- usually inspirational, manager John Farrell offered -- and had never previously written that specific slur.Escobar insisted the word is often used within teams and by Latinos and "I didn't see it as something bad at the time.""For us, it doesn't have the significance to the way it's being interpreted now," he said. "It's a word without a meaning.""I don't have anything against homosexuals," he said, adding he didn't mean for the term to be "misinterpreted" by the gay community.The suspension -- issued after input from Commissioner Bud Selig, the players' union and team management -- was to have started Tuesday night. The game between Toronto and New York was rained out and a day-night doubleheader was set for Wednesday.The penalty was announced in a 26-minute news conference at Yankee Stadium. Escobar wore a jacket and jeans and was joined by Farrell, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos, coach Luis Rivera and translator Robbie Guerra, a lawyer from the players' union.Escobar's lost salary during the ban -- about 82,000 -- will be directed to two advocacy groups, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and You Can Play.Escobar also will take part in an outreach initiative to promote tolerance to others based on their sexual orientation, and participate in a sensitivity training program.Pictures posted online showed Escobar with the message written during the Red Sox-Blue Jays game. Farrell said Escobar's notes are often to the effect of "Let's go today." They draw so little attention that nobody caught the change."There was no reason to think it was something derogatory," Farrell said.Farrell said the slur was written in small letters and "if someone had seen it, I would suspect someone would have said something."Major League Baseball regulations prohibit derogatory words and symbols on uniforms. Writing something of that nature on eye-black would fall under that category, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said.The NFL and college football have banned eye-black messages. The college ban came after stars including Tim Tebow, who wrote Bible verses, and Reggie Bush, who put his hometown area code, began to use the eye-black to send messages."Mr. Escobar has admitted that his actions were a mistake and I am hopeful he can use this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to educate himself and others that intolerance has no place in our game or society," Selig said in a statement.GLAAD President Herndon Graddick commended the decision."Today's actions show that MLB and the Toronto Blue Jays are committed to creating an environment that all fans and families can enjoy, not a place where discriminatory language and anti-gay attitudes are accepted," Graddick said in a statement.Anthopoulos said he had spent most of the day with Escobar at the commissioner's office."I don't know there's a right way to deal with these things," he said. "You're not going to satisfy everyone."In May 2011, MLB suspended Atlanta pitching coach Roger McDowell for two weeks without pay for inappropriate comments and gestures with homophobic and sexual overtones he made toward fans before a game in San Francisco.In April, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for five games by his team because of comments that he loves Fidel Castro. Many Cuban-Americans were angered by the remarks.On Tuesday, Guillen said he didn't think Escobar meant to be offensive."I think he just did it for fun. I know he didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings. Nobody is that stupid," he said before the Marlins hosted Atlanta."In my house, we call (each other) that word every 20 seconds. I've got three kids," Guillen said. "For us, it's like What's up, bro? What's up, dude?' It's how you say it and to who you say it. But that's our country. We have to respect this country. Sometimes for us it's funny, for other people it's not."Escobar was traded from Atlanta to Toronto in July 2010. He is hitting .251 this season with nine home runs and 49 RBIs.Escobar's salary this year is 5 million. The Blue Jays have club options on him for 2014 and 2015.

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Wizards vs. Bucks: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Bucks: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The Washington Wizards host the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS vs. MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Where: Verizon Center
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: CSN (Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Consistency on defense

The Wizards felt good about their performance on defense against the Nuggets on Thursday night, as they held a strong offensive team to just 85 points, including 33 in the second half and 12 in the fourth quarter. Now they have to carry that effort over from game to game, something that has been difficult for them to do so far this season.

Just look at the contrast between the Nuggets game and what happened in their previous two outings. Against the Nets on Monday they won, but only after allowing 66 points in the first half. And on Tuesday they lost to the Magic after allowing them their season-high of 124 points, including 73 from the bench alone. Milwaukee isn't a juggernaut offensively, but they are above average with 102.4 points per game (12th in NBA) and a 45.9 field goal percentage (8th).

[RELATED: Morris: 'Wall is the voice and I'm like the muscle']

Watch out for Giannis and Jabari

The Wizards will have their hands full with the Bucks' two young stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Antetokounmpo, 22, is averaging 21.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.2 blocks and 2.0 steals per game, all the while shooting 51.6 percent. That's as well-rounded a stat line as you will see in the game of basketball. He's a 6-foot-11 big man who can run their offense as a point guard. Matching up with him is no easy task, no matter the personnel on defense

Parker, 21, is scoring 19.6 points per game to go along with 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists. The former second overall pick is blossoming into an elite scorer this season.

The Wizards are likely to try their lineup with Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the floor together against the Bucks to counter Milwaukee's versatility:

"They've got a lot of length out there with Giannis and Jabari," Oubre said. "We've gotta match their energy or have more energy than them out there and pretty much run them into the ground. If we get into a halfcourt set, it's going to tough to score overtop of them."

More work for Gortat

With news that Ian Mahinmi will remain shut down for at least the next week despite his latest MRI clearing him of any structural damage, that means the workload will remain heavy for Marcin Gortat as the Wizards continue to play thin at the center position. Gortat already leads the team in minutes played (743) and has logged at least 36 minutes in six of his last seven games. 

Gortat is working hard, but he's okay with that according to his coach.

"He constantly reminds me that he's the Polish Machine and that he can play any amount of minutes as possible. He keeps telling me that if we go overtime that he can play 53 minutes. I like his heart and his determination, but I would like to keep it down in the low 30s. But he's feeling good. As a staff, we monitor his workload during practice," Brooks said.

[RELATED: Wizards send rookie McClellan to D-League]

Navy fan trolls Army with video game-inspired Army-Navy GameDay sign

Navy fan trolls Army with video game-inspired Army-Navy GameDay sign

At the end of the day, the Army-Navy rivalry is one of respect. With that being said, that doesn't mean Navy and their fans can't poke a little fun at Army for losing 14-straight games in the rivalry.

Game over. Flawless victory.

More from Army-Navy: An Army-Navy preview with Rich DeMarco and Omar Nelson