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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fox Fires Lyons For Racially Insensitive Comment

Fox baseball broadcaster Steve Lyons has been fired for making a racially insensitive comment directed at colleague Lou Piniella’s Hispanic heritage on the air during Game 3 of the American League championship series…

In the second inning of Friday’s game between Detroit and Oakland, Piniella talked about the success light-hitting A’s infielder Marco Scutaro had in the first round of the playoffs. Piniella said that slugger Frank Thomas and Eric Chavez needed to contribute, comparing Scutaro’s production to finding a “wallet on Friday” and hoping it happened again the next week.

Later, Piniella said the A’s needed Thomas to get “en fuego”—hot in Spanish—because he was currently “frio”—or cold. After Brennaman praised Piniella for being bilingual, Lyons spoke up.

Lyons said that Piniella was “hablaing Espanol”—butchering the conjugation for the word “to speak”—and added, “I still can’t find my wallet.”

North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: October 14, 2006 at 08:22 PM | 279 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, television

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   201. dugaton Posted: October 16, 2006 at 05:31 PM (#2213951)
To me, it's quite obvious who found the comments insensitive and racist, and it was neither the viewers at home or the politically-motivated suits upstairs. It was Lou Piniella.

So, your station is taking tons of heat for a stupid comment about a blind guy that Lyons made but you didn't realise how big a deal it would be in time to fire him. Then, one of the co-commentators (hypothetically) says 'I'm never going in the box with Lyons again', and makes Fox job easy.

Either that, or post 'blind-dude' incident, Fox have itchy trigger fingers.
   202. RichRifkin Posted: October 16, 2006 at 05:31 PM (#2213952)
If you are interested in the documentary I saw on PBS, it is called The Republic of Baseball. I recommend it. One of the more interesting things I learned was that in the 1950s, when the Dominican Republic had a dictatorship, the son of the dictator was a serious fanatic about baseball. He was also the head of the Dominican Air Force. As such, he used to travel around the country and watch baseball games. When he saw a good young player, he would immediately draft that guy into the DAF, and force that player to play for the DAF team. This happened to Juan Marichal, Felipe Alou and many other great Dominican players of that era.
   203. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 16, 2006 at 05:34 PM (#2213956)
Would Lyon's comments about Green have been "a fireable offense" if Lyons were Jewish? Personally, I doubt it. And if it wouldn't have been a fireable offense if say, Tony Kornheiser had said it, it shouldn't be for Lyons IMHO.

Like it or not, someone of the same religion or ethnicity has a lot more latitude to talk about others in the same group than someone outside the group. Hence, Chris Rock can talk about n*****s vs. black people, whereas Jerry Seinfeld can't without being seen as a racist. I know many people find this silly, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Do you honestly feel the same way about criticisms of the jewish community coming from a jewish friend vs. a non-jewish friend? I don't.
   204. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: October 16, 2006 at 05:42 PM (#2213965)
The only thing worse than a stupid-and-goofy announcer like Steve Lyons is a stupid-and-takes-himself-way-too-seriously announcer like everyone else on Fox baseball.
   205. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 16, 2006 at 05:46 PM (#2213975)
On a slight tangent, I believe that Curt Flood spoke about Alvin Dark's racism as a manager of the Giants when he told his hispanic players that they couldn't speak spanish in the clubhouse. It was speculated that Dark was insecure about what the players were saying about him.

When I referee for youth soccer (14-17 age groups), it was a league rule that the only language to be spoken on the field was English. There were many Greek players in our leagues, so I was often giving warnings (and then yellow cards if they did it again) to players that spoke Greek while playing, or shouted it out on the sidelines.

The league reasoning was it wanted to make sure the referees were respected by the players, so it stopped any players from bad-mouthing the referee/assistants without myself (and my colleagues) understanding them.

It usually took a couple of yellow cards in the first few games before everyone caught on. There was an initial harsh reaction from the players (and their parents), but after I calmly reminded the coaches and players at half-time the reasoning behind it, everything was fine.
   206. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 16, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2213979)
OK, I re-read the thread, and at least one of you has forwarded the idea that Lyons was saying that Piniella was a wallet stealer, not hispanics. But how did Lyons come to that conclusion?
Because Piniella had talked about 'finding' wallets.

The question I would ask of you all is, in the context of the broadcast, why would Lyons say that he did not want to sit next to Piniella?
See above.
   207. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 16, 2006 at 06:08 PM (#2213999)
See above.

If it's too much for you to answer, then why do you?
   208. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 16, 2006 at 06:12 PM (#2214006)
If this firing resulted from cumulative events, Fox should just say so. Say they spoke to him after the Green thing..."Hey, Steve, that wasn't so swift." Then, again after JORDY incident..."Hey, Steve, that wasn't so swift." The Piniella thing would be Lyons' 3rd strike, and Fox wouldn't look like they over-reacted if they said as much.
   209. RichRifkin Posted: October 16, 2006 at 06:18 PM (#2214018)
"Like it or not, someone of the same religion or ethnicity has a lot more latitude to talk about others in the same group than someone outside the group. Hence, Chris Rock can talk about n*****s vs. black people, whereas Jerry Seinfeld can't without being seen as a racist. I know many people find this silly, but it makes perfect sense to me."

Like it or not? Not.

I understand what you are saying, Yeaarrgghhhh. My own feeling is that what matters most is the speaker's intent. If Chris Rock uses a word like \"######\" in his routine, he is given the benefit of the doubt because, as a black person, it is assumed that his intent is not to advance anti-black racism. That makes complete sense. As well, if a non-black comedian (or other commentator) used the same word, his intent ought to be questioned. But if, upon quesitoning (or putting the comments in context), it is clear that the non-black person did not mean to demean black people, then he too should be given the benefit of the doubt.

In the case of Lyons's comments about Green, it seems a huge stretch to think that he meant to disparage Jews. It seems to me that Lyons intended his remarks narrowly: that he thought Green was not being very consistent by leaving his club in order to fulfill religious obligations that Green's non-religiosity would suggest he would not have.

I should add that I think Lyons was wrong in this, regarding Green. For a religious Jew, of course, attending the High Holiday ceremonies is a huge mitzvah. Even for Jews who are only mildly religious, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are very important. Who doesn't like the Shofar?

But I think, among all Jews, the position of Green was somewhat unique. He apparently is not very religious at all. Yet, he identifies with the Jewish people and the Jewish heritage, was raised as a Jew in a Jewish household, and thus he is a Jew. But he's not just "a Jew." He was at that time the most identifiably Jewish ballplayer in the world, and one of very few Jews in professional sports. As such, Green saw himself as a role model for the thousands of young Jewish fans of his. And as a role model, he felt a special obligation, regardless of his own lack of religiosity, to attend services and observe the holiday that he might not have felt had he been an unknown, anonymous person.

I don't think Lyons fully appreciated the "role model" aspect of Green's position, and thus he came to the wrong conclusion.

Regarding the "he didn't even get the money" aspect of this non-controversy, I think the question again ought to go back to intent. Unless Steve Lyons had a Mel Gibson-like history, I think it is only fair to assume that Lyons was not connecting a love of money with Jews in particular. Rather, I think he was saying, "Hey, all kids love to get some cash. When I was a kid, I would have loved to have had some cash. Green should have gone for the cash, too." That kind of sentiment, to my mind, is much like the expression of Cuba Gooding, Jr. character in "Jerry Maguire": "Show me the money!" It's not a unique thought of one ethnicity or crede. It's a rather universal feeling.
   210. CrosbyBird Posted: October 16, 2006 at 06:33 PM (#2214031)
Late to the game.

They should take away its cubs or pups or whatever you call fox children.

I believe the answer to this is "kits."
   211. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 16, 2006 at 06:45 PM (#2214046)
Would Lyon's comments about Green have been "a fireable offense" if Lyons were Jewish? Personally, I doubt it. And if it wouldn't have been a fireable offense if say, Tony Kornheiser had said it, it shouldn't be for Lyons IMHO.

I sense a moving standard here, which is to say no standard at all.

Lyons isn't Jewish, and I don't remember there being any indication that the race of the person making the offensive comments changes the offensiveness of the comments. Can a Caribbean guy get on and start moaning about "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop?" Can a black guy get on and start moaning about the "black guys on the team playing like idiots?"

The question remains, then: How is Lyons's remarks about Green not a fireable offense under the "brain dead Caribbean" standard?
   212. Dewey, Crackpot and Soupuss Posted: October 16, 2006 at 06:51 PM (#2214058)
Can a black guy get on and start moaning about the "black guys on the team playing like idiots?"

No, buy he can praise them for playing well in the sun.
   213. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 16, 2006 at 06:55 PM (#2214067)
How is Lyons's remarks about Green not a fireable offense under the "brain dead Caribbean" standard?

You're talking about FOX. It took 3 incidents to get them to pull the trigger.
   214. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#2214080)
In the case of Lyons's comments about Green, it seems a huge stretch to think that he meant to disparage Jews. It seems to me that Lyons intended his remarks narrowly: that he thought Green was not being very consistent by leaving his club in order to fulfill religious obligations that Green's non-religiosity would suggest he would not have.

I should add that I think Lyons was wrong in this, regarding Green. For a religious Jew, of course, attending the High Holiday ceremonies is a huge mitzvah. Even for Jews who are only mildly religious, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are very important. Who doesn't like the Shofar?

But I think, among all Jews, the position of Green was somewhat unique. He apparently is not very religious at all. Yet, he identifies with the Jewish people and the Jewish heritage, was raised as a Jew in a Jewish household, and thus he is a Jew. But he's not just "a Jew." He was at that time the most identifiably Jewish ballplayer in the world, and one of very few Jews in professional sports. As such, Green saw himself as a role model for the thousands of young Jewish fans of his. And as a role model, he felt a special obligation, regardless of his own lack of religiosity, to attend services and observe the holiday that he might not have felt had he been an unknown, anonymous person.


All potentially true (except for the money part, which is self-evidently a disparaging stereotype), but how does a public commentator get an "offensiveness" pass for openly discussing which part of a particular religion a particular person subscribes to?

Lyons essentially said this, but with the race/religion changed: "You know that Derek Jeter, he acts like he's black sometimes, but he really isn't. He's got a white mother after all and I've heard he often turns down the watermelon when it's offered at family picnics ..."

See?
   215. RichRifkin Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:24 PM (#2214111)
"He's got a white mother after all and I've heard he often turns down the watermelon when it's offered at family picnics ..."

Let me take your last comment completely out of context. I used to live in a mostly poor, mostly black (maybe 98%) neighborhood in west Oakland, CA (near McClymonds High School, if you are familiar with Oakland). I'm not only white, I'm actually quite pale. And I was raised in a mostly white town. So when I moved to west Oakland, not far from where I was born (on Pill Hill), I was unfamiliar with a lot of black customs. I had heard, as a child, the association between black people and watermelons, but it didn't mean anything to me. I just took it as some kind of disparaging remark intended to put down blacks. (An odd one, though, as who does not like eating watermelons?) Thus, it came as a surprise to me to find that in my neighborhood, every Sunday in the summer and into the fall, African-American farmers would drive through our ghetto in old pick-up trucks, filled with freshly harvested watermelons. (Keep in mind. This was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was not a long time ago.) They would park in front of the larger churches, and when the Sunday services were letting out, lines of parishioners would line up and buy watermelons for their families. Also, some of the charitable organizations would buy watermelons from the same sources on those same days, and they would hand out free slices of watermelon to needy people. I thought the whole scene was very, very cool.
   216. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:29 PM (#2214118)
I'm not exactly sure what the genesis of the "black people love watermelon" stereotype was. Evidently, they ate a lot of it. But, so does my family, every summer, so go figure.
   217. bunyon Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:31 PM (#2214123)
It's hard to beat watermelon taken straight from the field. There used to be a patch behind my house a bit and we raided it often. We'd crack them open and almost crawl into the things. We'd be coverred in watermelon. Man that was good.
   218. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:40 PM (#2214133)
If it's too much for you to answer, then why do you?
It's not too much for me to answer. I didn't mean "Earlier in this thread" by "above." I meant "earlier in post 206."
   219. Dewey, Crackpot and Soupuss Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:47 PM (#2214147)
who does not like eating watermelons?

I don't. Too messy.
   220. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:50 PM (#2214151)
It's not too much for me to answer. I didn't mean "Earlier in this thread" by "above." I meant "earlier in post 206."

Yeah, I thought that mighthave been what you meant. Sorry. If Lyons wasn't aware of how his comments would be taken, he *is* as dumb as people here say he is. I think firing someone for being oblivious about what might be interpreted as an ethnically charged comment is reasonable.
   221. bunyon Posted: October 16, 2006 at 07:55 PM (#2214156)
who does not like eating watermelons?

I don't. Too messy.


Dude, sex is messy. Sometimes messy is good.
   222. JMM Posted: October 16, 2006 at 09:26 PM (#2214331)
who does not like eating watermelons?


Me. I'm allergic.
   223. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 16, 2006 at 09:46 PM (#2214360)
I'm not exactly sure what the genesis of the "black people love watermelon" stereotype was. Evidently, they ate a lot of it.

Whatever the cause of the sterotype, and whenever its first appearance was, it was sure around in 1901. It was also depicted in hundreds of comic postcards and a seemingly infinite number of vaudeville skits and early silent film shorts.
   224. Dewey, Crackpot and Soupuss Posted: October 16, 2006 at 09:49 PM (#2214366)
Dude, sex is messy. Sometimes messy is good.

Sometimes, but never for food, IMHO.
   225. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 16, 2006 at 10:57 PM (#2214426)
Ironically, one of the first announcer firings for bad comments was Rick Barry, fired by CBS Sports from the NBA, for saying in response to a picture with his partner Bill Russell in the back, something like, "Who's that guy in the back with the big watermelon smile." This was probably five years before Campanis.
   226. RichRifkin Posted: October 16, 2006 at 11:35 PM (#2214458)
SugarBear -- according to Wikipedia, everything you write above (#225) is correct. However, Wikipedia says that CBS merely chose not to renew Barry's contract (as opposed to firing him) for making that statement, which was in regard to a picture of Bill Russell's Olympic basketball team. I suppose that a small percentage of his listeners might disagree, but (as someone who heard Barry for many years on KNBR radio) I don't think he has a racist bone in his body. The language in question, though, is (in the context of that ridiculous stereotype) idiotic. His best friend, who was also his best man at his last wedding, is Clifford Ray (an African-American who was a good center in the NBA). And he seemed to maintain very close relationships with all of his old black teammates -- they used to regularly appear on his radio show -- and with a lot of other African-American personalities. (A running joke on Rick and Rod's program -- Rod, by the way, is black -- was that Rick was friends with just about everyone famous over 50 years old. He was constantly dropping names of his golfing and tennis friends from Hollywood, politics, other sports, etc.)
   227. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 16, 2006 at 11:44 PM (#2214462)
Rich -- I didn't mean to disparage Rick Barry and agree with all your observations. I happily stand corrected that Rick wasn't fired immediately. He worked with Bill Russell for many years and they always had a very good rapport, though Russell stewed at the "watermelon" remark. I don't think even Russell thinks Rick is a racist.
   228. RichRifkin Posted: October 17, 2006 at 12:07 AM (#2214480)
BTW, Bill Russell is one of the old time players who used to come on Rick's radio show. They seemed to be very friendly with each other. Though, because they were never teammates, I don't think they "hang out," as Barry does with guys like Al Attles, Nate Thurmond and Clifford Ray.

Rick Barry is an interesting case study in getting (or in his case not getting) a coaching job. He desperately wanted to be an NBA head coach. He not only was a very good player -- probably one of the 3 or 4 best small forwards to ever play the game -- but he really knows the game, in terms of teaching, strategy, fundamentals, X's and O's, etc. Yet, after a rather successful stint as a minor league coach, no one would hire Rick in the NBA. It was not as if he didn't have friends among the league executives, though some of his peers who were in positions of power really disliked Rick. (He says that because he was an ultra-competitive player, who had a take-no-prisoners attitude on the court, a lot of his opponents dislike him, and hold a grudge against the way he behaved on the court. He should add that he used to be quite a hothead.)

My sense is that the people in power who would not hire him were always a bit wary of his personality: that maybe he was a guy who was too wild, who could not be controlled. Yet as he got older, he seemed to have mellowed a lot, and that would likely have made it easier for him to work with a GM. But still, no one would give him a shot. I suspect (though I don't know this for sure) that in Rick's younger years, when he wanted to be a head coach and he was getting rejections, he probably burned a lot of bridges, in anger over how he was treated. And then when he got older, people remembered him as more of a jerk than he really was. He said a few times that the league had blackballed him, and there was nothing he could do about it. The same thing seems to have happened to a few others, though no one I know of who combined his resume as a player and as a minor league coach.
   229. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: October 17, 2006 at 12:15 AM (#2214490)

I understand what you are saying, Yeaarrgghhhh. My own feeling is that what matters most is the speaker's intent. If Chris Rock uses a word like "######" in his routine, he is given the benefit of the doubt because, as a black person, it is assumed that his intent is not to advance anti-black racism. That makes complete sense. As well, if a non-black comedian (or other commentator) used the same word, his intent ought to be questioned. But if, upon quesitoning (or putting the comments in context), it is clear that the non-black person did not mean to demean black people, then he too should be given the benefit of the doubt.


I agree with this for the most part, but the really difficult issue is who gets to make this determination of intent. I mean, you can get the most overtly racist person in the world, and people will conconct completely unbelievable scenarios about how the person didn't really mean it and they were drunk that day and blah blah blah.

Furthermore, I can't understand the fixation on intent. I imagine it comes from the scary possibility that oneself might be put in the position of having hurt someone else out of ignorance.

Intent is only mildly interesting. I'm more concerned with the actual effects of the speech or action.
   230. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 17, 2006 at 03:24 AM (#2214605)
You know, I don't understand the whole Watermelon Stereotype. I don't mean the origin of the stereotype; I mean the issue. It's obvious why being lazy or a thief or a drunk is a racist stereotype. But I don't understand how something which is completely innocuous can be a racist stereotype.

I mean, if you say someone smells bad because of his dietary habits (based on a racial stereotype, I mean), I would understand that as an issue. But there's really nothing negative at all about eating watermelon. So how can it be racist? (Didn't some golfer do the same thing with Tiger Woods?)
   231. Buford J. Sharkley Posted: October 17, 2006 at 03:42 AM (#2214612)
(Didn't some golfer do the same thing with Tiger Woods?)


Close. Fuzzy Zoeller insinuated that Tiger ate collared greens.
   232. Spahn Insane Posted: October 17, 2006 at 03:45 AM (#2214613)
I don't understand how something which is completely innocuous can be a racist stereotype.

Now seems like the time to revisit my attendance at a MLK day dinner at the Carrier Dome my sophomore year of college. Friend of mine asked me what was being served for dinner while I was headed to my table; I answer (having read what was on the menu beforehand)--"chicken, ribs, black eyed peas." Which was, in fact, what was being served, which didn't stop the gentleman in front of me from stopping, turning, giving me a look of death, and asking "That supposed to be funny?"

Arsehole. 'Cause god knows, I'd choose an MLK dinner to spew racial epithets. I told him if he had a problem with the menu being stereotypical, he should take it up with the event planners.
   233. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: October 17, 2006 at 04:06 AM (#2214618)
I don't understand how something which is completely innocuous can be a racist stereotype.


They you don't understand the first thing about what is destructive about stereotypes.
   234. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 17, 2006 at 04:11 AM (#2214622)
No; I don't understand the first thing about what is destructive about innocuous stereotypes.
   235. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: October 17, 2006 at 04:11 AM (#2214623)
Sorry, that wasn't very constructive, I apologize. Sometimes, I just can't tell if you are serious. :)

Basically, the biggest negative component of stereotyping beyond direct negativity, is the dehumanizing aspect. An ethnic majority person (not necessarily white) is just a human individual, while an ethnic minority person, through heavy stereotyping receives greater negative outcomes for poor decisions and less credit and positive outcomes for accomplishments.

Furthermore, when stereotyping takes over, even if the specific stereotype is "positive", it represents a loss of freedom. For example, "being good at math" seems like a "good" stereotype, but when it is employed to divert interested members of the group away from language arts or to type people away from social success or attractiveness, surely that's a loss of freedom of sorts, right?
   236. Kurt Posted: October 17, 2006 at 04:33 AM (#2214629)
Yes, but that doesn't really answer the specific question, unless the problem with the "watermelon" stereotype is that interested members of the group are being diverted away from apples and kumquats.
   237. E., Hinske Posted: October 17, 2006 at 04:43 AM (#2214635)
Furthermore, I can't understand the fixation on intent. I imagine it comes from the scary possibility that oneself might be put in the position of having hurt someone else out of ignorance.


Really? I imagine it comes from a centuries old legal tradition that we don't punish people for crimes that they didn't intend to commit. That's been modified to a certain extent with criminal consequences for extreme cases of negligence and what not but that's still the starting point.

Obviously, this isn't criminal law and the stigma that attaches is less but the consequence suffered by Lyons are pretty severe. When the stereotype in question - Lou Pinella steals wallets? - isn't an overly well known one, the offence/damage caused is minimal and the consequences are great, I can completely understand why people look to intent.

Truth be told, I could understand it far more if he got smacked for the Jewish remark, as I think that the sterotype that he was working off of there is far more offensive and damaging.
   238. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: October 17, 2006 at 04:52 AM (#2214637)

Really? I imagine it comes from a centuries old legal tradition that we don't punish people for crimes that they didn't intend to commit. That's been modified to a certain extent with criminal consequences for extreme cases of negligence and what not but that's still the starting point.

I see what you are saying, but I'm not commenting directly on the Lyons situation. I don't think the point is to assess racial stereotyping and so we can generate a blacklist of evil racists. I thought the point of it was to attack the spectre of racial inequity in the society since pushing it into recession with benefit everyone including the racial majority.

The idea that we are trying to punish individual crimes of racism is a misnomer that plagues people on multiple sides of this issue.
Yes, but that doesn't really answer the specific question, unless the problem with the "watermelon" stereotype is that interested members of the group are being diverted away from apples and kumquats.


Sure it does, that was just a simple example. The point is that once one is seen merely as a single-dimension member of a minority group rather than as an individual, equality and freedom is likely to be compromised. When someone says, "Those watermelon eaters" the dynamic of stereotyping and marginalization has real affect whether or the not the stereotype itself is "based in reality" or utterly "false" or whether it is viewed as "positive" or "negative".
   239. robinred Posted: October 17, 2006 at 05:28 AM (#2214656)
But I don't understand how something which is completely innocuous can be a racist stereotype.

Part of it is what E-X said. It is also socio-historical and associative--the watermelon and fried chicken thing is associated with old stereotypes about blacks being like children, clowns, etc. Feed them pickaninnies some watermelon and good fried chicken and they'll be smilin' etc. So, "watermelon grin" or whatever in this context carries with it a historical, connotative, perjorative meaning.
   240. RichRifkin Posted: October 17, 2006 at 08:27 AM (#2214687)
FWIW, I asked my boss, who is black and a native of Alabama, if he knew the origins of the watermelon question. He said that his mother told him that when she was a girl, watermelons were seen by many whites in the South as cheap food, the kind of thing only poor people would eat. (She added that poor whites ate as much watermelon as poor blacks did.) So the association of blacks and watermelons was derogatory in that it tied black people somehow to what was once seen as an inferior good. My boss added that the term, "Cracker," has similar origins. A person who could not afford to buy processed flour (which was seen as the superior good) made his bread out of uncracked wheat. He thus had to crack the wheat himself. Originally, that term, Cracker, was used for both poor whites and blacks in the South. But, over time, it changed to just mean poor whites.
   241. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 17, 2006 at 01:23 PM (#2214763)
FWIW, I asked my boss, who is black and a native of Alabama, if he knew the origins of the watermelon question.

I wish I was there to see that. Really. That must have amused your boss to no end.
   242. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: October 18, 2006 at 01:15 AM (#2215612)
Lyons on ESPN Radio: "I was making a reference to his earlier wallet comment, when he was talking about finding wallets, I kind of put in the back of my mind thinking, okay, I'm gonna make a callback to that and kind of give Lou a little jab that, you know, I'm sitting next to him in the booth, and he's talking about finding wallets, and I was just gonna make sure that I came back later in the show and said, 'Hey, Lou, my wallet's gone. What happened?' Obviously, unfortunately for me, that reference came right after he was speaking Spanish, and I'm not sure who I offended here, and if I did offend anybody I'm clearly sorry about it, but people are trying to make the stretch that for some reason I think that if you speak Spanish you could steal my wallet, and I was made out to have said something racially insensitive, and I just think it's a real stretch to get there.

"I was out for dinner with Lou after the game -- myself, Thom Brennaman, Chris Myers, the entire crew that was on that game, after the game went to dinner. That's when I got the phone call to let me know I would be off the broadcast. Lou thought it was the best exchange we had during the game. Lou loved the fact that I kinda kept him laughing and kept him loose in the booth so that it was easier for him to do his job. We joked earlier that we knew he was gonna get the Cubs job, and there's a lot of rumors out there that if Bob Brenly gets the managing job in San Francisco, I said, 'Lou, I'm gonna come and work for you then in Chicago. I'm gonna be the announcer there.' And he stopped laughing and looked at me dead serious and said, 'I'd be happy to put in a good word for you,' he said, 'you're the best analyst I've ever worked with.'

"That's what people tried to make this out, that I victimized Lou Piniella. You know, here's my ignorance here: I didn't even know Lou Piniella was Spanish -- of Spanish descent. And it wouldn't have made a difference in the comment I made, because the joke I was making was about wallets, it wasn't about what descent you are. And the people who made a correlation between my wallet being missing and the fact that Lou was speaking Spanish are really reaching."
   243. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 18, 2006 at 01:40 AM (#2215696)
I didn't even know Lou Piniella was Spanish -- of Spanish descent.

As suspected ... and written.
   244. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 18, 2006 at 11:03 AM (#2216343)
He may be telling the truth, but in my experience, people are curious about each other's ethnicity, and if they have the opportunity to ask about it, they will. It's possible Lyons could have assumed Piniella was Italian, but until he says so, I'd be skeptical. If he says he doesn't know and wasn't curious, I wouldn't believe him.
   245. bunyon Posted: October 18, 2006 at 12:12 PM (#2216351)
Barry was one of the most disliked players in the league.

Wow, kevin, your post totally didn't go where I thought it was going after this sentence.

Barry was a whiny, petty player, though one of enormous skill.

Ditto.


Lyons quote above makes sense to me. I think he's incompetent but I suspect his "thought" process was exactly as he laid out. However, if Piniella was as much on his side as he says, I'm surprised Lou didn't say something. It isn't as if he needs the FOX gig.
   246. JC in DC Posted: October 18, 2006 at 12:36 PM (#2216364)
Apparently Pineilla did support him at the press conference for the Cubs job, saying Lyons doesn't have a racist bone in his body.

Bivens: In your (and my) experience, people are curious about each other's ethnicity, which was why I was so puzzled in the South when many Southerners I encountered seemed completely clueless about it.
   247. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 18, 2006 at 12:46 PM (#2216368)
JC: Clueless in what sense? That they didn't care, or that they had no idea what the difference between, say, an Italian and a Hispanic is.
   248. JC in DC Posted: October 18, 2006 at 01:00 PM (#2216375)
They didn't care.
   249. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 18, 2006 at 01:09 PM (#2216384)
They didn't care.

You're very stingy with your explanations, professor.

Why didn't they care, in your opinion? Or in more than your opinion?
   250. JC in DC Posted: October 18, 2006 at 01:20 PM (#2216390)
It wasn't the culture they grew up in. Maybe they cared more about class, or color, I don't know. But whereas everyone I grew up w/would immediately speculate as to ethnic background ("Oh, a Flynn" "Oh, Southern Italian, right?"), the Southerners I met were astounded that we could figure this stuff out AND that we cared to.
   251. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 18, 2006 at 01:39 PM (#2216406)
the Southerners I met were astounded that we could figure this stuff out AND that we cared to.


It's not like it's that hard to figure out. Maybe the South you experienced wasn't as ethnically diverse as it is further north, so there'd be less curiosity. Less difference/less curiosity?
   252. JC in DC Posted: October 18, 2006 at 01:43 PM (#2216412)
Perhaps. Maybe too as I suggested a curiosity about different things.
   253. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: October 18, 2006 at 02:00 PM (#2216418)
Maybe the South you experienced wasn't as ethnically diverse as it is further north, so there'd be less curiosity. Less difference/less curiosity?

FWIW, I've noticed less interest in this stuff in "the south I've experienced" as well, and I don't think it's because of less diversity.
   254. JoJo Whyte Posted: October 18, 2006 at 09:59 PM (#2216841)
In response to # 231: After winning his first Masters, Tiger is allowed to pick the main menu items for next years Master's banquet that's traditional for all participants. Fuzz stated "we'll probably have fried chicken and watermelon..." and he immediately lost his long time sponsor KMart. Like KMart is the most PC corporation around. Tiger and Fuzz were friends and Tiger did NOT take offense to the comment(s). But, KMart, thinking ONLY of their personna, took action against Fuzzy, just like FOX did with Lyons.

Hypocrite corporations. Period, all this is.
   255. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:09 PM (#2216845)
But whereas everyone I grew up w/would immediately speculate as to ethnic background ("Oh, a Flynn" "Oh, Southern Italian, right?"), the Southerners I met were astounded that we could figure this stuff out AND that we cared to.
Where exactly did you grow up, JC? Because I didn't grow up in the South (*), and I don't recall ethnicity coming up at all, let alone right after meeting someone.


(*) Well, it was south of the Mason-Dixon, but it sure as heck wasn't The South.
   256. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:23 PM (#2216848)
It wasn't the culture they grew up in. Maybe they cared more about class, or color, I don't know. But whereas everyone I grew up w/would immediately speculate as to ethnic background ("Oh, a Flynn" "Oh, Southern Italian, right?"), the Southerners I met were astounded that we could figure this stuff out AND that we cared to.

Interesting. I spent about 15 years in the South and I can agree with this. But I also spent about 15 years in the Midwest, and I could count on one hand the number of times I've heard someone ask about another person's ethnic background.

I don't think I've ever asked, aside from perhaps making a half-joke inquiry into the origins of a particularly tongue-twisting last name. Like that guy the Cubs picked, Jeff Samardzjia (and I'm sure I butchered that spelling) - that's kind of interesting. Eastern European, maybe?

But Pinella? Never. I'm not surprised Lyons didn't know (assuming that's the truth, which I think it is), mor am I surprised that he never asked. Frankly, I'd find questions about someone's ethnic background kind of personal, like asking someone what their religion is. Not something I'd do upon first meeting someone.
   257. Backlasher Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:25 PM (#2216851)
Eastern European, maybe?


Southern Bend I think
   258. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:29 PM (#2216853)
Tiger's reaction to Zoeller's remarks were not as you described. His attitude may be different now, but at the time, he was miffed.

Moreover, Fuzzy Zoeller was paid a sizable fee by Kmart to be likable Fuzzy Zoeller. It wasn't because of his golf skills, which were not particularly sharp and hadn't been for quite some time. When Zoeller was no longer the warm and fuzzy Fuzzy, at least to a substantial number of potential customers, he was no longer worth Kmart's millions. They had every reason to drop him.

As for the South's indifference to ethnicity, that sounds like an admirable condition to me.
   259. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:34 PM (#2216856)
Southern Bend I think

Good point. I suspect he's not Irish, though.
   260. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:36 PM (#2216857)
Wikipedia says it's Serbian. So now I know (assuming that's correct).
   261. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:40 PM (#2216858)
But Pinella? Never. I'm not surprised Lyons didn't know (assuming that's the truth, which I think it is), mor am I surprised that he never asked. Frankly, I'd find questions about someone's ethnic background kind of personal, like asking someone what their religion is. Not something I'd do upon first meeting someone.
Only a Zoroastrian would say that.
   262. RichRifkin Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:52 PM (#2216864)
Freddy Mercury?
   263. LINDALSHOT Posted: October 18, 2006 at 10:55 PM (#2216868)
Lyons was never a favorite of mine but it sort of sounds like even Piniella was NOT offended and the comments were about him.
   264. RichRifkin Posted: October 18, 2006 at 11:09 PM (#2216871)
"(Rick) Barry was one of the most disliked players in the league."

That is true. He was. Probably the most disliked player by his opponentsin his day. That was due to a combination of his personality, his extraordinary ability and the extremely aggressive way that he played.

"The refs hated him... "

Do you have any kind of source for this charge? I think you are wrong. I saw Rick play about a dozen times (though admittedly, I was quite young, then) and never saw any conflict between him and the refs. He was a whiner, but not too different from how Magic Johnson was a whiner. Unlike Magic, Barry never assaulted a ref. Rick did, though, get the calls. Barry was not just the best free-throw shooter in the NBA, he was an expert at charging in the lane and drawing a reach foul. He needed the refs on his side to get those calls.

"... most of his teammates disliked him... "

Again, unless you have a source, I'm going to have to call b.s. on this charge. I have heard almost all of his old teammates on Rick Barry's (former) radio show. He is very obviously friends with those guys. I've never heard one who suggested that back in the day their relations were not amicable. When one of his old teammates died a few years ago, the widow asked Rick to give the eulogy.

"... and many of his coaches hated him."

Rick spoke of his dislike for one of his early coaches. It had to do with a very Allen Iverson-like problem: practice! Rick explained that he was playing 40 minutes a night. He didn't need to go hard in practice. And yet this coach (far before Attles), kept after Rick for not working hard in practice. I don't know of any other coaches that Barry had a problem with. However, it wouldn't surprise me. It's common for head coaches and superstars to not get along. Each wants to have the control.

"Maybe he and Attles made up but they were on very poor terms when he left the Warriors."

Again, I'd like to see a source. I wouldn't be surprise to know that at one time Rick and Al did not get along. Superstars can be dicks, and Rick often was. But they are clearly very close friends, now. They were not just coach and player, but they were teammates on the Warriors for a long time. In other formats, I've heard Al Attles speak highly of Rick Barry.
   265. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 18, 2006 at 11:17 PM (#2216876)
Only a Zoroastrian would say that.

Discordianist.
   266. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 18, 2006 at 11:26 PM (#2216880)
How do Rick Barry's kids feel about him? Heheheh.
   267. JC in DC Posted: October 18, 2006 at 11:39 PM (#2216884)
DMN: I was born in Staten Island and grew up there and in NH (though around NYers). "Immediately" is a bit strong, but it's certainly a thing most of us would put together and discuss.

Frankly, I'd find questions about someone's ethnic background kind of personal, like asking someone what their religion is. Not something I'd do upon first meeting someone.


Of course it's personal. It's about getting to know someone.

Welcome back, BL.
   268. Backlasher Posted: October 18, 2006 at 11:46 PM (#2216887)
Good to see you as well JC.
   269. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 18, 2006 at 11:54 PM (#2216892)
I think you're all missing the point. This firing allows Fox Sports to get rid of Lyons, while allowing the Fox News talking heads to complain about oversensitivity. It's a win-win situation.

List of famous Arab thieves.

1. Ali Baba.


Ali Baba wasn't a thief. Anyway, don't forget the Barbary Pirates, whom we actually went to war with.
   270. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: October 19, 2006 at 12:10 AM (#2216904)
Ali Baba wasn't a thief. Anyway, don't forget the Barbary Pirates, whom we actually went to war with.
Not to get all racially exclusionist, but I wouldn't call Berbers Arabs. Sure they want to call themselves Arabs, but they don't have much Arabic blood, they mangle the language, they have strange customs - frankly I think they are at least as much African as they are Arabic. On the other hand I don't want to seem snobbish.

And Ali Baba was most certainly a thief. He stole the thieves' treasure! It's much more questionable as to whether he was an Arab, but all the characters in 1001 Nights are viewed in the West as Arabs (even Aladdin, who is meant to be Chinese)!
   271. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 19, 2006 at 12:18 AM (#2216916)
Not all of the Barbary Pirates were Berbers. Many were Moriscos.
   272. Backlasher Posted: October 19, 2006 at 12:36 AM (#2216974)
Not all of the Barbary Pirates were Berbers. Many were Moriscos.

Others were Velvet/Plush
   273. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: October 19, 2006 at 12:55 AM (#2217009)
Olbermann just got around to reporting this, and the angle he decided to take was mocking the "I didn't know he was Spanish" line as though it was all Lyons had to say about the subject. Keith Olbermann, today's Worst...Newsman...in the World!
   274. robinred Posted: October 19, 2006 at 04:24 AM (#2217520)
Backlasher Posted

Hey, a Backlasher sighting. Hope you will be around more.
   275. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: October 19, 2006 at 01:36 PM (#2217650)
Since no one answered my question about how Rick Barry's kids feel about him, I will.

One of them doesn't speak to him, IIRC. Brent, maybe? Or Jon? Not sure which one. But that goes to his being a prick. When your own kid won't speak to you, that's damning.
   276. CrosbyBird Posted: October 19, 2006 at 02:45 PM (#2217727)
As for the South's indifference to ethnicity, that sounds like an admirable condition to me.

Motive matters a bit.

If you don't care about ethnicity because you think it doesn't matter where a person come from, that's fine. If you don't care because you lump all differing ethnicities into a category of "inferior folk," it's not so admirable.

I have little long-term experience outside of the Northeast of this country, so I make no particular general judgment on Southerners. I think there is plenty of exclusionary behavior in even (gasp!) ultra-diverse NYC, so it would be silly to throw stones.

One things for sure, though. People from Micronesia are ignorant, backwater slobs and should be barred from entering the sacred grounds of other decent countries.
   277. CFiJ Posted: October 19, 2006 at 03:18 PM (#2217762)
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.
   278. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4252361)
Lyons still can't find his chopsticks.
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