Fans watching the 2006 Major League Baseball post-season on FOX are witnessing a network running amuck in the broadcast booth.
Days later Thom Brennaman committed not one – but two – regretful mistakes, FOX has announced they have given color commentator Steve Lyons his pink slip.
This news comes in the middle of post-season play, an indicator of the level of embarrassment the network is dealing with during it’s most-watched time of the baseball season.
According to media reports, Lyons was terminated after making a racially insensitive comment in the direction of guest analyst Lou Piniella during Game 3 of the American League championship series.
Friday night in Detroit Piniella was commenting on Oakland Athletics infielder Marco Scutaro’s post-season hitting surprising success, saying it was “like finding a wallet on a Friday night and looking for one on Sunday and Monday, too.”
Later in the game, Piniella said the A’s needed Frank Thomas to get “en fuego” (Spanish for “hot”). Piniella said Thomas was “frio” (Spanish for “cold”). Brennaman followed, praising Piniella’s bilingual abilities.
The loose-lipped Lyons said “Lou’s habla-ing some Espańol there, and I’m still looking for my wallet. I don’t understand him, and I don’t want to sit close to him now.”
That was the final straw for Lyons. FOX fired him immediately after the game.
In a statement to the media, FOX spokesman Dan Bell said, “Steve Lyons has been relieved of his FOX Sports duties for making comments on air that the company found inappropriate.”
“If I offended anybody, I’m truly sorry,” Lyons said in a phone interview. “But my comment about Lou taking my wallet was a joke and in no way racially motivated.”
Then, there’s the Stephen Teitelbaum incident. During Game 2 of the NLDS at Shea Stadium, FOX cameras locked on to the 64-year old Mets fan.
Why? He was wearing a JORDY, a peculiar-looking magnifying device on his eyes. Curious? yes. Funny? No. Teitelbaum is almost completely blind, but that didn’t stop Brenneman and Lyons from piling on, mocking the Mets fans on-and-off through a complete half-inning.
When the series moved to Los Angeles for Game 3, and Brenneman learned of Teitelbaum’s condition, he apologized in the second inning of the game, saying, “I am sincerely sorry for our comments if they offended you … It’s my fault and I’m sorry.”
Brenneman struck again in Game 4 of the NLDS between the Cardinals and Padres, when he confused St. Louis Cardinals reliever left-hander Tyler Johnson for right-hander Josh Kinney. As Johnson warmed up, Brennaman talked up Johnson, his stats, his career notes, never for a second noticing his faux pas. One pitch, two pitches, then, finally after Johnson threw his third pitch, a light went off – or on.
It hasn’t been a stellar post-season for the FOX broadcast team. If you’re keeping score at home, no runs, no hits, one error. That’s E-Fox.