Last year, one or two of you may recall, I watched and reviewed for this blog a broadcast of every major league baseball team as well as ESPN, TBS and Fox. Generally, I was (and continue to be) disdainful of the "new-school" announcers who are too busy being clever and cracking one-liners instead of concentrating on the game. In "Joe's MLB onvas TV Report" on the San Diego Padres' broadcast, I wrote this about play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgergian: "Vasgersian is one of those announcers trying too hard to inject his personality into his work. It usually leads to weird comments."
Vasgersian now works for the fledgling MLB Network and one of his dumb remarks, while working as studio host on MLB Tonight, backfired recently. The website The Biz of Baseball describes what happened on April 27th (unfortunately, the accompanying clips have been removed from YouTube):
As MLB Tonight covered the Padres/Rockies highlights, the coverage turned to a freakish play in which Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe was hit in the neck by Padres catcher Nick Hundley's throw to second base in the sixth inning. The hit to the neck resulted in a concussion, but at the time, it appeared as if the ball may have hit Hawpe in the back of the head and possibly done spinal damage.
After the footage was shown, Vasgersian asked for the footage to be shown again where Hawpe being carted off the field in a neck brace. Referencing a member of the Rockies EMT staff, Vasgersian quipped, “Isn’t that Donavan McNabb?”
The site says that analysts Mitch Williams and Billy Ripken weren't amused, with Ripken replying, "Dude, what's wrong with you?" The next day Vasgersian apologized on-air, as well as at the Biz of Baseball site:
"Yup...bad spot to try and fill a down moment with an attempt at humor. I certainly didn't mean to trivialize an injury but knew it came off that way as soon as the words came out of my mouth. Dumb. Some regrettably poor judgment occurring on live TV...I feel pretty bad about it and hope I didn't offend too many people hoping this as an apology conveys a bit of foot-in-mouth remorse."
This is exactly the problem. There's no reason to even attempt to be funny when a guy's lying on the ground hurt and about to be wheeled off on a stretcher, even if they were just showing highlights from a game and not actually broadcasting the game itself. I'm glad Vasgersian apologized, but he needs to learn from this if he wants to be respected for his work instead of being just another wanna-be standup comedian.