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.