This past week has really been...something.
I would have loved to have taken this time out of my day to write about actual sports, but instead, I get the immense pleasure of ripping into guys like Thom Brennaman, Mark Grace, and Mike Milbury. All three were on the biggest stages, during what possibly is the most important year for broadcasts in the history of professional sports on television, and they all managed to disgrace themselves with a single sentence (except Grace, who stammered on for 2 minutes).
I might not be able to give the best analysis on Luka Doncic's buzzer beater last night because I haven't played Basketball at the highest level. But I am a professional broadcaster, and I can say without a doubt, it's time to move on from these guys.
Let's start with the obvious one: Thom Brennaman.
In case you haven't heard yet, Thom thought his mic was off during a Cincinnati Reds double-header last week, and callously uttered a homophobic slur! Yea...not great.
The best part however, was his so called "apology". You know, the apology to the guys that sign his paycheck, not the LGBTQ community to which he offended.
"Ok but Frank, he followed up with another apology in the Cincinnati Enquirer!"
And to that I say, it made things worse.
"I used a word that is both offensive and insulting. In the past 24 hours, I have read about its history; I had no idea it was so rooted in hate and violence and am particularly ashamed that I, someone who makes his living by the use of words, could be so careless and insensitive. It’s a word that should have no place in my vocabulary and I will certainly never utter it again."
You didn't know??? You didn't know that word was hate speech? I don't buy it. A guy that talks for a living, should be well versed on what is and isn't acceptable discourse. It's part of the job.
Also, I wonder what he's like when the mics are off. Is this normal? Is this how he talks? Is this the person he is?
I don't care that Thom is a man of faith, I don't care if he goes to church every Sunday, and I don't care that he's apologized.
This is a competitive business, and the Reds can find a guy that knows the golden rule of broadcasting: your mic is ALWAYS on.
Ok, this one is just funny.
Just...I don't know...enjoy.
I really don't hate Mark for this one, it's just stupid.
Was it a good story? No.
Was it well told? No.
Is it necessary to have Grace on the broadcast? Again....no.
Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies are a great one-two punch. Len is eloquent and articulate with an appropriate level of excitement in his voice, while Deshaies not only provides in depth baseball analysis, he also brings plenty of anecdotes for those snooze fest innings. Taylor McGregor has done a fantastic job as well, serving as a field reporter in an empty Wrigley Field.
Grace was given his shot, but maybe it's best to keep him in the studio.
This is the most contentious one of the trio. Mike Milbury has a severe case of foot-in-mouth syndrome. During the final minutes of the Washington Capitals elimination from the playoffs, Milbury commented that there were "not even any women here to disrupt ... your concentration" in the NHL bubble.
After receiving backlash for the comment, Milbury decided to leave the bubble to not distract from Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let me be clear, there are much worse things he could have said, I mean, he could have pulled a Brennaman. He made a bad joke pointing out that there were no girlfriends or wives around, and the guys only had their teammates and film studies to preoccupy themselves when not on the ice.
The problem is, Milbury is a repeat offender in a sport that has struggled mightily this year to uphold it's "Hockey is for Everyone" motto.
The problem is, prominent female writers like Katie Strang and Alison Lukan have to deal with constant mistreatment by bigots on social media.
The fact of the matter is we can do better than Mike Milbury. Younger guys like Patrick Sharp and Corey Schneider have stepped into the analyst role and have added much needed youth to the NBC broadcasts.
So why are we constantly dealing with the repeated PR headaches that Milbury brings? Is he really that good?
If the NHL really wants inclusivity and make hockey for everyone, it's time to move away from Mike Milbury.
"What happened to freedom of speech?"
Since that's the number one question posed in the toxic space we call the comment section, I'll do you a favor and answer the question before you ask it.
Yes, the first amendment grants the freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech only means you cannot be LEGALLY prosecuted for words. It does not protect anybody's job from termination for hate speech.
This is a competitive field. There are hundreds of people to choose from. Just like the sports they present, broadcasting has plenty of talented young men and women in the minors waiting for their shot.
It's time we give them a chance.