In the bottom of the fourth inning of the Mets’ game in Arizona last night, Diamondbacks broadcaster Bob Brenly took it upon himself to make a racist comment about Marcus Stroman during a close-up shot of the pitcher: “pretty sure that’s the same du-rag that Tom Seaver used to wear when he pitched for the Mets.”
After the game, Stroman made it clear how he felt about the comment on Twitter with his own tweets and a series of retweets calling out the racism of the remark and calling for consequences for Brenly for saying it.
Major League Baseball likes to talk about what it perceives to be problems with the sport, but the issues we hear about all the time almost exclusively have to do with rule changes within the game. The fact that a white broadcaster feels so comfortable making a racist joke about a player’s appearance in the middle of a game is an illustration of a culture that poses a far greater risk to its long-term health than the occasional 18-inning game.
Baseball celebrates the legacies of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, as it very well should, while running an entire organization devoted to making baseball more accessible to communities of color. But there has long been a double standard when players of color are discussed in broadcast booths.
Most of the time it’s a lot more subtle than the overt, disgusting attempt at humor in last night’s broadcast, but the league must demand and require better from the voices that fans hear on a daily basis. It can start by intervening in this situation and making it clear that what Bob Brenly said was unacceptable.