During Wednesday night’s game between the Blue Jays and Braves, Toronto outfielder Kevin Pillar struck out on a Jason Motte quick pitch and expressed his displeasure with the pitcher using the word “faggot.”
This sparked a large (and justifiable) backlash from fans and media and a tepid postgame apology from Pillar.
On Thursday, both Pillar and the Blue Jays took steps to show their remorse. Toronto GM Ross Atkins flew to Atlanta to personally apologize and announce a two-game suspension for the outfielder. Pillar’s $6,066 in salary for the two games he misses will be donated to charity.
“A large group decided that was appropriate,” Atkins said. “There is no question that was in the heat of the moment, but that’s no excuse.”
Pillar, meanwhile, issued a much more sincere apology than the other he gave after Wednesday’s game, writing “I’m completely and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible” about the incident. He apologized specifically to the LGBT community and promised to “use this as an opportunity to better” himself.
— Kevin Pillar (@KPILLAR4) May 18, 2017
Obviously no apology erases what Pillar said or changes the fact that hearing the word “faggot” used in a derogatory way is painful to LGBTQ people. But Pillar seems sincere, and hopefully he will serve his suspension without complaint and eliminate that word from his vocabulary.
As for the suspension, there’s not much precedence for something like this. In 2012, Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended three games for playing with a gay slur written on his cheek in Spanish. In the NBA, Kobe Bryant was once fined $100,000 for called the referee a “faggot,” and Rajon Rondo was suspended for a game for the same offense, directed at a ref who then came out as gay.
So Pillar will sit his two games, and hopefully he—and every other baseball player—will learn a lesson from the whole ordeal.