Even if Ashby is ignorant of Darvish’s linguistic agility, what he said was silly — and colleague Geoff Blum even said as much in the booth at the time. Here’s a transcript of the relevant part of the broadcast, via the Four DVRs blog in the Houston Chronicle:
Blum: Man. Gosh, that has got to be a tough pill to swallow.
Ashby: That’ll force a guy to learn some of the language here in America.
Blum: Some of the more inappropriate language. I’m loving it. They probably learn that instantly coming over here. But that was a fantastic performance.
Of course Japanese ballplayers playing in North America know how to swear in English. Profanity (can be) one of the first thing anyone learning a new language picks up. Ichiro’s famous (NSFW) “Two rats in a sock” quote is a good example of this.
The Astros must have heard people complaining about Ashby’s joke, because they made him apologize. Here’s his official statement, which reads like a monologue that hostages are encouraged to announce at gunpoint:
“I’d like to apologize if my comments last night were misinterpreted or construed as insensitive. I have the highest respect for Yu Darvish; he’s a great player and his performance last night was outstanding. He showed a great deal of poise in the face of a difficult moment last night, which speaks to the strength of his character.”
That’s a new low for the “I apologize if I offended anyone” brand of apology, and it probably won’t help Ashby with the crowd that will be mad at him no matter what.