Friday, 9 June 2017

Mike Schmidt, Jerry Remy split Jerk of the Week for slamming athletes who don’t speak English

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Mike Schmidt, Jerry Remy split Jerk of the Week for slamming athletes who don’t speak English
 Most of the time, a jerk has no idea what he or she is doing, hasn’t the foggiest idea that their actions or words are obnoxious or offensive. Or they simply do not care. This is precisely what makes people who cut you off on the road or who refuse to let you merge in front of them because they’re too busy texting such jerks.

The world of sports gave us two such people this week, who uttered highly offensive and racially insensitive comments on the air basically because they thought nothing of it. They moved their lips, words came out of their mouths, and it never dawned on them until after the fact that what they said was wrong on so many levels. Jerks.

In a radio interview Tuesday morning, Phillies broadcaster Mike Schmidt went in on outfielder Odubel Herrera with a critique so biting that he managed to insult every Spanish-speaking ballplayer on the planet. Schmidt said the Phillies can’t build around the Venezuelan-born Herrera because of the language barrier, questioned his commitment and, ironically, said the kid plays with too much emotion, a heard-before knock that’s been used in the past to insult the passion many Latin players show on the field.

“First of all, it’s a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game,” he told WIP morning show host Angelo Cataldi. “Or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game. Or come over to a guy and say, ‘Man, you gotta run that ball out.’ Just can’t be — because of the language barrier — that kind of a player.”

Later the same day, NESN Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy barked that translators for players who don’t speak English like Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka should not be allowed out to the mound for conferences with coaches and managers.

Both broadcasters issued predictable apologies not long after their bile hit the airwaves.

“It's been made known to me that my answer on a radio interview this morning to the question, 'Can the Phillies build a team around Odubel Herrera?' was disrespectful to Herrera and Latin players in general,” Schmidt said. “I'm very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone. I assure everyone I had no intention of that.”

Remy basically said the same thing. Maybe they shop for apologies at the same place. Insult an entire race of people? Sure, we have something for that right over here.

“Last night during the course of the Red Sox-Yankee game I made some comments that offended a number of people in our audience,” he said. “I’d like to apologize to my colleagues at NESN, to the Boston Red Sox, but most importantly to the fans who were offended by my comments. I sincerely hope you accept my apologies. Thank you very much.”

You’ll notice there is no mention of Tanaka or foreign-born players in his apology.

What’s worse is that both broadcasters are paid to speak on the air. Throwing words and opinions around with so little care about how they land is like a cop irresponsibly playing with his gun in public. It’s like a construction worker dumping a pile of bricks on someone because they did not care enough to be a little more cautious.

Using a player’s inability to speak English against them is flat wrong. Not speaking the language fluently should never deter from a player’s worth on the field. Does speaking the language help them to hit or run or throw? No, it does not.

Part of the beauty of sports is that games are supposed to be inclusive. Baseball clubhouses have been melting pots of cultures and nationalities for years, and with that infusion of international talent, times change. More Spanish can be heard. Translators for Japanese-speaking players are necessary to bridge these gaps.

So when you insult people who speak a different language, who may need help communicating with others to do their jobs a bit more effectively, it’s low and crass. It’s ironic that Schmidt and Remy, both fluent English-speakers, understood so little about the toxic words they uttered this week.

Maybe they're the ones who really need translators.

That all makes them aloof. But more than anything, it made them jerks this week.

Brian Burke was a jerk on two fronts this week, all in the same public appearance. Burke, the combustible president of the Flames, told the Canadian Club of Calgary on Wednesday that concussions are a part of hockey. And, if you have a problem with that, you’re just not tough enough.

“It’s a full-contact sport. If you choose a full-contact sport, there is a good chance you’ll have a serious injury,” Burke said. “If you don’t want to get a concussion, you can be a swimmer.”

Ouch. Burke is a smart guy, so it was just as puzzling when he called the NHL an “industry leader in concussion identification and treatment.” The NHL is fighting a lawsuit over its handling of head injuries, and the league has been openly criticized for its protocol during games to identify concussions. An example of this is that players are monitored for head injuries following collisions with the ice, but not the boards or other hard objects.

Wonder if P.K. Subban got checked out after that jerk Sidney Crosby bashed his skull into the ice Thursday night. But, we digress.

Burke wasn’t done. He also threatened the Flames would move somewhere else if local taxpayers refuse to cough up money for a new arena. His honesty, as always, is refreshing, but his message was that of a straight-up jerk.

Finally, the Saudi Arabian soccer team, of all countries, ignored a moment of silence for victims of the most recent London terrorist attack this week.

Instead of observing the attack before a World Cup qualifier Thursday, Saudi players went about their pre-game business while Australian players stood at attention. Saudi officials said "this tradition was not in keeping with Saudi culture and they would move to their side of the field and respect our custom whilst taking their own positions on the field.”

In other words, it was not their tragedy to memorialize. The Saudi soccer federation later issued their own statement of apology.

“The players did not intend any disrespect to the memories of the victims or to cause upset to their families, friends or any individual affected by the atrocity," it said. "The Saudi Arabian Football Federation condemns all acts of terrorism and extremism and extends its sincerest condolences to the families of all the victims.”

Just like Schmidt and Remy, the Saudis meant no disrespect. It's basically a darker version of Steve Urkel's "Did I do that?"

And that, right there, is classic jerk behavior.
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