Expect New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett to get some heat for his insensitive use of the word retarded after last night's loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Burnett was 5-0 against the Red Sox when he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, but since joining the Yankees before the 2009 season he's gone 0-4 in eight starts against their American League East rivals. When reporters asked him about this turnaround, the right-hander lost his composure. I'm not in Toronto so I'm tired of hearing about all that, said Burnett. That's just retarded. If anything was different I made pitches when I was with Toronto, and I didn't make pitches tonight. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

Miami Heat star LeBron James responded in similar fashion when a reporter asked his teammate Dwyane Wade a question in a news conference on May 7. James apologized two days later.

The Special Olympics has a website devoted to convincing people not to use the word retarded as a blanket derogatory. Titled R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word, the site asks visitors to pledge support to eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word.

A fact sheet on the site states, Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities.  However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the word 'retard(ed).' It is time to address the minority slur retard(ed) and raise the consciousness of society to its hurtful effects.