When you’re on TV, watch your words.
Content is king, but manner’s also momentous.
Such a lesson was recently learned by Detroit Tigers announcer Jack Morris.
On Tuesday — following a sixth-inning missed pitch by a Los Angeles Angel — on-air analyst Matt Shepherd asked his colleague how the Tigers might want to strategize against designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.
Presumably because Shohei — known as “Shotime” to American fans — is from Japan, Jack altered his speech for a reply.
“Be very, very careful,” he remarked — pronouncing each “R” in “very” as “LR,” and the “R” in “careful” as “L.”
Evidently, it was made clear to the commentator that the affectation wasn’t alright.
Hence, when pitcher Shohei came to bat in the ninth, Jack slow-balled a mea culpa:
“Well, folks, Shohei Ohtani’s coming to the plate, and it’s been brought to my attention — and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially anybody in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani. I did not intend for any offensive thing, and I apologize if I did. I certainly respect and have the utmost respect for this guy.”
— Jonathan Deutsch (@JonathanD_TV) August 18, 2021
The accented incident was certainly bold.
It’s been long known such an effort wouldn’t end well.
In fact, it was the premise of a routine by master comedian Brian Regan:
That joke goes back over 30 years, but perhaps Jack never heard it.
Curiously, in some arenas, Asian accents are apparently fair game — Family Guy’s a repeat offender, yet it remains on TV:
As for Jack Morris, the same cannot be said.
Of course, comedy isn’t his job; he’s supposed to engage the audience, not poke the players.
In light of the controversy, regional network — and Jack’s employer — Bally Sports Detroit released a statement.
The Hall of Famer’s on deck for re-education:
[We are] extremely disappointed with the remarks analyst Jack Morris made during last night’s Tigers game. Jack has been suspended indefinitely from Tigers broadcasts and will be undergoing bias training to educate him on the impact of his comments and how he can be a positive influence in a diverse community. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination and deeply apologize for his insensitive remark.
The Tigers also clawed the calamity:
The Detroit Tigers take immense pride in honoring the diverse cultures that make up our players, coaching staff, front office, fan base and community. We are deeply disappointed by the comments made by Jack Morris during the broadcast last night. We fully support Bally Sports Detroit’s decision and their on-going commitment to ensure that all personnel are held to the highest standards of personal conduct.
Jack Morris has been “suspended indefinitely from Tigers broadcasts and will be undergoing bias training,” Bally Sports Detroit says.
Statements from the team and network: pic.twitter.com/m3tFgJbgbd
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) August 18, 2021
As the old saying goes, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
And foreign accent fun-making — like a ground ball — isn’t gonna fly.
Jack Morris knows that now.
If I had to guess, I’d say he won’t soon be repeating the error.
He saw a joke…it was a swing and a miss.
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