Tom Brenneman (unwittingly) makes fun of a blind guy wearing a device that helps him see the game, issues an apology the next day, and all is well. Steve Lyons says something about a wallet after saying something about espanol and gets fired. Nevermind that the two statements were completely unrelated.
After Lou Pinella said something about Marco Scutero’s production being akin to finding a wallet on Friday and expecting it to happen again the next Friday, he added that the A’s were “frio” and needed to get “en fuego”. Steve Lyons said that Pinella was “hablaing espanol” and he still couldn’t find his wallet. From this, Fox made the connection that Lyons was claiming Lou (and other hispanics) steal wallets. If anything, the execs over at Fox are the ones who are racists. Most people watching it took it to be a friendly jab at Lou Pinella, his broadcast partner, not a racial remark. As far as we know, no hispanic leaders complained about the remarks.
For his part, Lyons apologized but said that the comment was not racially motivated and that Fox jumped to conclusions.
My joke was about a wallet. It had nothing to do with race. We were all laughing at the time. I’m being painted as a victimizer of Lou. At dinner later (with Fox announcers and production staffers), we all thought it was one of our better exchanges… I’m happy to apologize to anybody who took it that way. But it seems like a real stretch to lose your job over. It’s hard to understand.
So the moral of the story is this: you can make fun of the handicapped all you want as long as you apologize but don’t even think about linking two statements together if one of them has anything to do with race. Someone at Fox needs to take Logic 101. For example, here are two statements: 1) Tim McCarver sucks as an announcer. 2) Tim McCarver is white. The execs at Fox would conclude that white people suck at announcing. Meanwhile, most people would just conclude that Tim McCarver sucks — which is pretty much just a universal truth by now.
[Orlando Sentinel]: Fox Fires Lyons for Insensitive Comment
[USA Today]: Lyons defends honor after dismissal by Fox
[YouTube]: partial video of Steve Lyons comments