HOUSTON — Saying “there is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suspended the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel five games without pay, starting next season, for his actions during Game 3 of the World Series Friday night.
After hitting a home run off the Dodgers’ Yu Darvish in the second inning, Gurriel made a gesture in the dugout in which he used his fingers to slant his eyes and uttered in Spanish “Chinito,” which translates as “Little Chinese person.” While not always meant as an offensive term, it certainly can be.
“There is complete unanimity — me, my office, both owners, both clubs and the MLBPA — that there is no place in our game for the behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night,” Manfred said Saturday afternoon.
In a statement, the Major League Baseball Players Association said it will not appeal Gurriel’s punishment and will have no further comment. Gurriel expressed contrition after Friday night’s game.
A suspension during the World Series, which the Astros led two games to one entering Saturday night’s Game 4, would have carried far more weight. Manfred didn’t dispute that weighing those circumstances had an impact on his decision.
“I felt it was unfair to punish the other 24 players on the Astros’ roster. I wanted the burden of this discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer,” Manfred said. “[And] I was impressed in my conversation with Yu Darvish by his desire to move forward, and I felt that moving the suspension to the beginning of the season would help in that regard.”
Darvish is of Japanese and Iranian descent. “He has handled this entire difficult situation in an exemplary way,” Manfred said. “Especially noteworthy is his expressed view that we should all use this negative incident as an opportunity for learning and deeper understanding. Notwithstanding Mr. Gurriel’s remorse, there needs to be disciplinary consequences to make clear that Major League Baseball is an institution that will not tolerate behavior of this type.”
Manfred also met with Gurriel earlier in the day.
“I believe based on my conversation that he understood that both the language and the gesture were offensive,” Manfred said. “He maintains that he did not intend to be offensive, but he understands that it was. And that’s what’s important. I also hope that we don’t overlook the training aspect of the discipline involved here. I think it is important. I think that we all, all need continuing reminders and education in this area as to what’s appropriate and not appropriate. And I do feel it’s an important part of the entire package.”