This has been quite a week for ESPN baseball broadcasting. On Monday Jessica Mendoza became the first woman to broadcast a Major League Baseball game for the network. On Tuesday, Curt Schilling tweeted out some obnoxious stuff comparing Muslims to Nazis. On Wednesday Schilling was taken off of this week’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis:
Damn you, ESPN! I had pledged to boycott “Sunday Night Baseball” because it has become almost unwatchable. And now you’re doing something to make me WANT to watch it.
It’s as if they don’t even know what their mission is anymore.
Curt Schilling was originally taken off of the Little League World Series telecast for his Nazi/Muslims tweet yesterday. Many, your dear author included, thought that was a tad light. Others wonder how ESPN even continues to employ a guy who seems far more interested in stirring up political stuff than being a baseball analyst.
ESPN is having second thoughts about all of this as well:
This is presumably just this week. But now Schilling has all the time in the world to post things to social media, so maybe just give it time. He’s never been anything less than a top competitor.
Dan Patrick knows ESPN better than just about anyone. And he wants to know why ESPN puts up with Curt Schilling given his tendency to step in it all the damn time:
In some of his many roles, Dan Patrick’s corporate overlords are my own corporate overlords. And Patrick talks about this when asked if anyone has ever told him, as a prominent face of the company, to back off political stuff. His answer is sort of refreshing in that (a) he’s not been given any diktats over such things and likely wouldn’t be until something came up; and (b) it’s basically the same way NBC has treated little old unimportant me about such things too.
No one has ever told me to stay away from politics. But there is an unsaid and quite reasonable expectation, I sense, that (a) if I DO mess up, Schilling-style, I’m in big trouble; and (b) dude, at least make sure it has SOME connection to what we’re paying you for, Which I think I do for the most part.
All of which is to say that, in my experience and Dan Patrick’s experience and, I suspect, Curt Schilling’s experience, we’ve been given some latitude and respect and trust that we’re not gonna throw bombs and say outlandish things. But as Patrick notes, Schilling has crossed that line several times. Will ESPN continue to accept that? I’m not sure how they can.
I linked it a little while ago, but in case you missed that, Curt Schilling posted — and then quickly deleted — a tweet with some meme on it that equated Nazis and Muslims and was just about as awful and wrongheaded as you can imagine it was.
In the past, ESPN has been easy on Schilling, giving him no discipline for any number of social media missteps. In one case they disciplined Keith Law for respectfully engaging Schilling in a debate about evolution (Schilling isn’t buying it) but doing nothing to Schilling. Now, however, they’re bringing the hammer down! They released this statement a little bit ago:
ESPN comment on Schilling: Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration.
Um, OK, maybe that’s not the hammer. That’s not even his real job. Indeed, in his heart of hearts I’m guessing Schilling and most other announcers tasked with doing the Little League World Series probably sees it, at the very least, as something of an imposition given the prep necessary and the extra travel which, presumably, does not bring with it much if any extra pay over and above their regular contracts.
Either way, Schilling is still the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. And he now gets his days off back.