Baseball Announcer Steps Away, Will Seek 'Sensitivity Training' in Light of Du-Rag Debacle

(Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)

Here’s something for all you who don du-rags.

On Tuesday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks faced off against the New York Mets.

During the home game broadcast, Diamondbacks announcer Bob Brenly remarked upon something seated atop New York pitcher Marcus Stroman’s head.

Marcus — whose father is black and mother is Puerto Rican — was wearing a white bandana beneath his cap.

Bob’s commentary brushed against it:

“I’m pretty sure that’s the same du-rag that Tom Seaver used to wear when he pitched for the Mets.”

A fellow broadcaster added, “[He’s] got the 41 patch on his sleeve right there.”

For those unaware, #41, “Tom Terrific,” was a 20-season MLB pro who played for the Mets 1967-77 and also 1983.

Tom’s number was indeed on the pitcher’s sleeve, and now some people think they’ve got Bob’s number — that of a racist.

Marcus himself would be one of those; he tweeted as follows:

“Onward and upward…through all adversity and racist undertones. The climb continues through all!”

The next day, Bob apologized.

What’s more, in light of discussion with the Diamondbacks, he vowed to undergo racial sensitivity training.

“During last night’s game, I made a poor attempt at humor that was insensitive and wrong. I apologize to Marcus Stroman and have reached out directly to share those thoughts. I have had several conversations with the D-backs and we agree that seeking sensitivity training is an important step so that I can continue to learn from my mistakes in order to be better in the future.”

On Thursday, The Athletic covered Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez’s claim that Bob was previously hypercritical of folks from the south:

RamĂ­rez said he and other Cubs players from Latin America felt Brenly was harsh with them because they were not White.

That led to yet another apology from the announcer:

“I want to apologize again for my insensitive reference on Wednesday, as it does not reflect my values or who I am. With respect to Aramis RamĂ­rez, Starlin Castro, Geovany Soto and all of the players who I have covered over the years, I have the utmost respect for their life stories, their talents and their careers. Having played the game and managed for many years, I understand how hard it is to play so successfully for such a long time. My job for many years has been to talk about baseball and I have had thousands of opportunities to both applaud and analyze performances and was privileged to witness the career of players like Aramis RamĂ­rez.”

He’s always tried to be honest:

“My job is to describe Major League Baseball and to call it the way I see it — the good and the bad. I have always tried to do so in an honest, unbiased way, regardless of a player’s background or race. I am sorry that my work offended Aramis, as I think of him as one of the most successful players of his generation.”

Bob went on to employ words such as “reflect,” “time off,” “listen,” and “diversity and inclusion.”

“Beginning today, I have voluntarily decided to take some time off to listen, reflect and devote my attention to awareness training related to diversity and inclusion to enhance my understanding and appreciation of others. I plan to return to the booth next homestand, hopefully a better person.”

As I’ve recently noted, we live in the era of celebrity apologies.

And just as with mixed martial arts, as the endeavor of the public apology’s advanced, what once were individual disciplines have been refined and homogenized into an agreed-upon group of effective offensives.

Bob’ll need a good ground game; he’s facing a formidable foe:

MSN put it this way:

It’s been a terrible week for Bob Brenly, as the former World Series-winning manager and current broadcaster is certainly under fire after some poor judgement showcased in a Mets vs. Diamondbacks game.

The Arizona Republic proclaimed, “Bob Brenly’s ‘du-rag’ comment is the latest in a string of Diamondbacks diversity problems.”

Yahoo Sports lamented, “Bob Brenly’s du-rag comment is the type of venom Black people like Marcus Stroman have to live with every day.”

Here’s more:

Stroman…tweeted a screenshot of a direct message he received on Instagram from an individual who called him the n-word twice and told him to kill himself. “I receive messages like this more often than y’all can comprehend,” Stroman tweeted.

Again, try to imagine what it’s like to deal with venom like that every day, how poisoning it would be to your psyche and spirit. That individual isn’t criticizing Stroman’s play. He’s attacking his humanity, using the most vile word in the English language for emphasis. For every message Stroman may get from a young Black fan thrilled and inspired to see someone that looks like him succeeding, he’s forced to see violence like that.

He knows being a Black man in baseball is different. He carries that with him every day. He doesn’t need the likes of Bob Brenly reminding him.

Concerning the comment itself, what was the “humor”?

Tom Seaver doesn’t appear to have sported a du-rag. Was Bob saying the bandana looked old?

While the articles I perused pointed to possible racism, none of them explained what the comment could have meant.

As for Bob’s apology, it was no Chris Harrison confection.

That guy bakes a mea culpa like a cake.

Will Mr. Brenly make it through?

Only time will tell.

Stay tuned for more.

-ALEX

 

See more pieces from me:

Connecticut’s on the Cusp of Officially Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis

After All That Apology, Chris Harrison Won’t Be Returning to ‘The Bachelor’

Cleveland Indians Are Down to a ‘Final List’ of Possible Names

Find all my RedState work here.

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