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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.

 

Nationals’ major leaguers to continue offering financial assistance to minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle
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On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.

After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.

Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.

The full statement:

Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.

We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.

We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.

Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.