Bally Sports Detroit and Detroit Tigers commentator Jack Morris deserved a suspension for his ethnic accent or commentary of Asians during Tuesday’s game between the Tigers and California Angels. He should also apologize again for the incident – this time the right way.
However, it is very, very important that Bally’s and the Tigers do not fire Morris. It is better to educate him. Tell him why he royally screwed up. And allow him to be the face of social justice. Allow him to educate the rest of us after he undergoes sensitivity training.
Bally’s play-by-play man Matt Shepard asked Morris how he would pitch to Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. Morris replied in a thick Asian accent, “very, very careful.” Viewers complained, and three innings later, Morris issued an on-air apology. However, he even screwed that up.
He gave the insincere rubber stamp apology that so many give by saying, “if I offended anybody, I apologize.” Instead, he should have taken ownership of it and said, “I screwed up. I was wrong. I apologize to those that I offended. My bad.”
Afterward, Ohtani said Morris’ words did not bother him.
“I did see the footage, and I heard it,” Ohtani told beat reporters through a translator. “Personally, I’m not offended, and I didn’t take anything personally.”
I believe that using ethnic slurs on a public forum like radio and television is wrong. However, I do not believe in the death penalty for such insurrections. I got into a spirited debate with a friend who believes Morris should lose his job because she wants a message sent to the next person that this is not right. I disagreed with my friend.
We battled for a few moments and let it die.
Morris is a much better man today than when he was a player. The man was an entitled jerk who attempted to intimidate reporters and opponents. Former Detroit Free Press intern Jennifer Frey once asked Morris to interview inside the Tiger Stadium dressing room.
Instead, he declined the request, saying: “I don’t talk to women when I’m naked unless they’re on top of me or I’m on top of them.”
Morris never apologized.
He never earned a suspension.
Instead, Tigers president Bo Schembechler blasted the paper in a letter and said Frey was a voyeur checking out the players for half an hour without asking questions.
Here is what happens if you keep Morris. You have a high-profile Hall of Fame player who becomes better educated on why using ethnic slurs is wrong. He is not bitter. He is not angry with the world. Maybe he explains to the world that the ethnic accent he used was to keep Asians in their place and used it to illustrate that Asians are lesser than.
Asians have a portrayal as stumbling idiots in movies, commercials, and television shows. It was to make the rest of this nation feel better. About 120,000 Asian-Americans were in internment camps following the 1942 attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor.
More recently, Asians have been attacked in this country because the ignorant blamed fellow US citizens for spreading the Covid-19 pandemic, which originated in China. None of the people’s attacks had anything to do with spreading the virus. Many of the people attacked were Korean and Japanese. And they were Americans. That does not make them Chinese—a whole different set of folks.
Let’s move on from this latest incident. Let’s learn from it and become better people.
Follow Foster on Twitter at TerryFosterDet.