Sports Hub radio host Tony Massarotti has been suspended for a week, and the station’s owner, Beasley Broadcast Group, has ordered sensitivity training for all on-air personalities, according to CBS Boston. And good grief, both the headline and the lead refer to what Massarotti said as a “racially insensitive comment.” It was racist. Period.
Update:The Boston Globe also called Massarotti’s remarks “insensitive.” They were quoting Massarotti, I think, but they didn’t use quotation marks. And they should have forthrightly used “racist” to describe what he said.
It’s been such a long time since a Boston sports radio host got in trouble for making racist remarks on the air. But it’s time to reset the clock, as Tony Massarotti of the Sports Hub (98.5 FM) stepped in it big-time on Friday. According to Chris Novak of Awful Announcing, Massarotti and cohost Mike Felger were broadcasting from different locations, and Massarotti thought it was worthy of note that there were two Black men sitting behind Felger.
“I wanna know now who the two guys behind you are,” Massarotti said. “Because if I were you … They can’t hear us, right? OK, so I would be careful if I were you. Because the last time you were around a couple of guys like that, they stole your car.”
Good Lord. Massarotti was full of apologies on Monday, and, Novak wrote, appeared to be on the verge of tears. “When it comes to apologies, at least he alluded to the fact that no one had to accept his,” Novak continued. “A common refrain following apologies is that everyone is meant to accept it. That isn’t always the case, and being aware of that, in his defense, is at least an acknowledgment.”
Felger wasn’t exactly quick off the draw, which he took responsibility for later. “I knew it was wrong the moment it went out and I could have stopped the show,” Felger said, according to an account by WCVB-TV (Channel 5). “I could have stopped it and corrected it, and I didn’t in real time.”
It remains to be seen what additional fallout there might be, if any. Massarotti was part of NESN’s Red Sox broadcasts last year, but the network had already decided against bringing him back.
I’ve been listening to a lot of sports radio since it emerged that Josh Beckett golfed despite missing a start with an injury or near-injury or whatever it was, and I just thought I’d throw this out there:
The sports pundits in Boston have gone insane. Some more so than others, of course. Tony Massarotti and Mike Felger of the Sports Hub (98.5 FM) have been completely unhinged, while Michael Holley and Glenn Ordway of WEEI (93.7 FM) have been relatively restrained and coherent.
Overall, though, it’s gotten so ridiculous that hosts were asking callers last night if they would rather have seen Beckett get lit up than pitch the seven innings of shutout baseball that he turned in. And some said yes, damn right, they wish he’d been blown out in an inning or two.
Beckett strikes me — and most of us, I’m sure — as a pretty unlikeable guy. I don’t appreciate the way he answers questions. He was apparently the ringleader of the chicken-and-beer brigade, whose importance has been exaggerated, but which nevertheless was symbolic of a team that wasn’t much of a team. Still, the real story behind the Red Sox’ collapse last September and this spring is staring you in the face: the starting pitching totally melted down. When the starters do well, the Sox win, as we’ve seen this week.
Beckett pitches to the best of his ability (which is still pretty good, if not 2007 good), he doesn’t make excuses and, as he showed on Tuesday, he certainly doesn’t let himself get distracted.
There’s a pattern here. In 2010, Jacoby Ellsbury was injured and misdiagnosed, and the jock punditocracy questioned his heart and toughness. Last year Clay Buchholz fractured vertebrae in his back — think about that for a moment — and got the Ellsbury treatment. For good measure, John Lackey, who, yes, is loathsome in many respects, gave it his all despite needing Tommy John surgery.
Photo (cc) by Keith Allison and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.