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Pirates announcer embarrasses himself going after Ronald Acuña Jr.

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Last week Pirates announcer John Wehner got so cranky with Derek Dietrich admiring his home runs that he claimed Dietrich’s own dead grandfather would be embarrassed of him. That’s some next-level “back in my day/play the game the right way” stuff. Wehner’s fellow Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass seemed to take that as a challenge, though, and did his best to one-up Wehner last night.

The situation: The Pirates led 5-2 in the fourth. The Braves had a man on second. A 2-2 Steven Brault pitch hit Ronald Acuña Jr. on the elbow. It was not intentional. Blass, however, took the opportunity to opine that, in his day, maybe such a thing would’ve been intentional:

In case you cant listen to that, Blass said, “I was getting ready to say, you know . . . With a young player doing all that stuff and all the jewelry and all the stuff, back in the day — I’m not saying it’s right or wrong . . .” No word on what “all that stuff” is, but given that Acuña hasn’t done anything to raise anyone’s ire other than hit well, and given the reference to jewelry, it’s pretty clear Blass is disgusted by what he perceives to be “flashy” players.

But don’t take my word for it. Blass explicitly said as much a couple of years ago when another young Latino player who wears jewelry drew his ire. That was Javier Báez, who Blass said was “a difficult player for me to root for. I’ll put it that way.” When asked by his play-by-play guy if it was “because of his flashiness,” Blass said “That’s a nice way of putting it, his flashiness.” Again: no further explanation of what it was about Báez that upset him. He’s just young and “flashy.”

Of course, when a certain kind of guy — older, white — complains about “flashy,” jewelry-wearing players, they’re complaining about black and Latino players approximately 100% of the time. It’s just basic racist dog whistling nonsense that is well-established among white people deriding people of color for their style choices and what they perceive to be inappropriately conspicuous consumption. It goes back 100 years at least. Probably more. In baseball you used to hear it a lot with players who dared wear earrings in the 80s or 90s.

Blass didn’t stop there. Check out the disgust in his voice when going back over the replay of the Acuña plunk:

Contrary to the tweet above that video, I actually think Blass is actually saying “gimme a break” but just sort of swallowed the “gimme a” a bit, but either way, his voice is dripping with disgust at the fact that Acuña even looked at Brault. Guess he didn’t know his place? Maybe Blass can explain that one at another time.

Between this and the Wehner thing, it’s like the Pirates broadcast team had a meeting before the season and decided that, as a matter of branding, they were going to do everything they could to appeal to the “young punks don’t know how to play the game the right way” demographic.

Bold choice. Maybe it pays off of ’em. But it’s a horrible look.

 

On a night full of letdowns, Yankees’ defense let them down the most

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Game 4 of the ALCS was a gigantic letdown for the Yankees for myriad reasons. They lost, first and foremost, 8-3 to the Astros to fall behind three games to one. Their fans continued to act boorishly. CC Sabathia exited with an injury, likely the final time he’ll pitch in his career. The offense went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The biggest letdown of the night, though, was the Yankees’ defense. They committed four errors, their highest total in a postseason game since committing five errors in Game 2 of the 1976 ALCS.

Make no mistake: the two three-run home runs hit by George Springer and Carlos Correa, given up by Masahiro and Chad Green respectively, were the big blows in the game. But the errors contributed to the loss and were downright demoralizing.

The first error came at the start of the top of the sixth inning, when Alex Bregman hit a cue shot to first baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu couldn’t read the bounce and the ball clanked off of his knee, allowing Bregman to reach safely. He would score later in the inning on Correa’s blast.

The Yankees committed two errors in the top of the eighth, leading to a run. Yuli Gurriel hit another grounder to LeMahieu, which he couldn’t handle. That not only allowed Gurriel to reach safely, but Bregman — who led off with a double — moved to third base. He would score when second baseman Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle a Yordan Álvarez grounder.

Error number four occurred when Altuve hit a grounder to Torres to lead off the top of the ninth. The ball skipped right under his glove. Facing Michael Brantley, Jonathan Loaisiga uncorked a wild pitch which advanced Altuve to second base. Brantley followed up with a line drive single to left field, plating Altuve for another run. Loaisiga would throw another wild pitch facing Bregman but that one didn’t come back to haunt him.

The Yankees can’t control injuries, the behavior of their fans, or how good the Astros’ pitching is on any given night. They can control the quality of their defense. On Thursday, it was a farce, and now they’re staring down the barrel of having to win three consecutive games against the Astros to stave off elimination.