In the second inning of Friday night’s Game 3 of the World Series, Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel homered to left field off Los Angeles Dodgers starter Yu Darvish. Back in the dugout, Gurriel—who played professionally in Japan for a brief time with the permission of the Cuban government, then defected from Cuba in 2016—appeared to touch his fingers to the corners of his eyes.
The video above was pulled from Major League Baseball’s international field. Twitter users noted that the 33-year-old Gurriel appeared to say “Chinito”—an anti-Asian slur—as he touched his fingers to eyes.
Darvish, who debuted in the major leagues in 2012, is of Japanese and Iranian descent. The Dodgers starter did not make it out of the second inning in the Astros’ 5-3 victory.
After the game, Darvish said Gurriel's actions were "offensive to everybody." Even so, he expressed empathy for Gurriel.
Yu Darvish on Yuli Gurriel's gesture: "It's offensive to everybody."— Hunter Atkins (@HunterAtkins35) October 28, 2017
Darvish on Gurriel: “He made a mistake. He’ll learn from it. We’re all human beings.”— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) October 28, 2017
Although the Fox broadcast didn’t mention Gurriel’s apparent gesture, Jon Heyman reports that the Astros first baseman will likely speak with baseball officials on Saturday and that there is "understandable deep concern." Baseball writers have called for his suspension.
If Yuli Gurriel is not suspended, MLB is sending the message that you can be racist and offensive as long as the game is important.— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) October 28, 2017
As someone who hopes the Astros win the World Series: Yuli Gurriel should be suspended for the remainder of the series.— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) October 28, 2017
Earlier this year, the Serbian women’s national volleyball team made the slant-eye gesture after winning a match at the world championships in Japan. Last month, a Brazilian tennis player did it after challenging a line call that had gonein favor of his Japanese opponent.
In advance of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Spanish men’s and women’s national basketball teams both posed for photos while making the gesture. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, national team and NBA player Jose Calderon explained, “We felt it was something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as an affectionate gesture.” Later, Calderon said, “It was a mistake, a bad mistake.
Update, Oct. 28, 9:10 a.m.: After the game, Gurriel didn't speak about his gesture directly, but he did apologize to whoever was offended.
The New York Times has more on what Gurriel did and didn't say:
“He already explained it,” the interpreter, Alex Cintron, said. “He said he felt like he was talking about he never had success against a Japanese pitcher, and he was talking about Darvish maybe thinking he was Japanese and threw him a fastball and he hit it out.”
Gurriel said he was aware that the word Chinito is offensive. “In Cuba we call everybody who is from Asia ‘Chino,’” he said through the interpreter. “We don’t call them Japanese. We call them Chino. Plus, I know in Japan that offends them. They don’t like that, but I didn’t mean to do it.”