(CBS News) Royals pitcher Bruce Chen was being interviewed during the Kansas City-Pittsburgh game on Saturday when teammate Humberto Quintero decided it would be a good time to sneak up behind Chen and make the gesture in the photo above.
Of course insensitive jokes are common in the clubhouse and Quintero certainly doesn't seem to have any malicious intent. But to see this kind of racially charged gesture on national TV caused a stir - and it wasn't long before Quintero began taking heat for his "friendly racism."
Chen, a native of Panama of Chinese descent, apparently wasn't fazed by Quintero's "joke" and quickly took to Twitter to say he took no offense.
A Royals blog has noted that Quintero has a reputation for being a "prankster" but the gesture was at best immature, at worst offensive. In a bid to further downplay the situation and protect his teammate, Chen later tweeted:
It's good to see Chen have a sense of humor and defuse the incident - although Quintero likely did offend many viewers (Asian and otherwise) who were watching the nationally televised broadcast on Fox.
It's not the first time we've seen this gesture cause a stir in the sports world. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Spanish Olympic basketball team drew fire for a photo in an ad showing the players using their fingers to apparently make their eyes look more Chinese.
At the time, the team said they were just trying to be "funny" and point guard Jose Calderon (who plays for the Toronto Raptors) said the team thought "it would be interpreted as an affectionate gesture."
Perhaps Quintero thought the same - but we doubt he'll do it again, at least not in front of a TV camera.