This is not our typical recap.
This was not the typical night in the Cincinnati Reds universe.
After four days away from playing baseball due to a positive COVID-19 test in the midst of playing baseball in fan-less stadiums during a pandemic, the Reds again took the field today. Some of them, at least, as Nick Senzel is on the Injured List for so far ‘undisclosed’ reasons, which you can interpret yourselves. It was in a doubleheader, though not the way we’ve come to know them, as a pair of 7-inning contests were to be played in this odd, odd season.
The Reds nearly got no-hit in Game 1 by Kansas City Royals starter Brad Keller, as the powder-blues settled for a shutout victory. In Game 2, Trevor Bauer was electric, and Jesse Winker continued his white-hot tear through pitching across the game with a dinger, too. Nick Castellanos homered, as did Eugenio Suarez and Curt Casali, and the club split the day, the series with the Royals before heading to St. Louis for their first contest with the Cardinals beginning tomorrow.
None of that seemed important for much of the night, however, as a hot mic caught Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman using a homophobic slur during the broadcast of the first contest, something that took seemingly ages for the broadcast to address on the second, subsequent game.
Here's a better video with the full bit of the perceived tHom homophobic comment at around the 2:06 mark of the game. pic.twitter.com/g1yBHg8zA0— Church of Baseball ⚾ (@churchofbasebal) August 19, 2020
As the sports world took notice of what happened, there was an eerie silence on the Reds broadcast for several innings, something that clearly indicated they were in the midst of prepping some form of short-notice damage control. The obvious utterance of the slur on-air was matched only by the lengthy silence that ensued, something that couldn’t have possibly been more awkward, we thought.
Of course, this is 2020 we’re talking about, and things sure as hell got more awkward. As the FS-Ohio cameras finally pointed the camera at Thom for his apology - one that never denied use of the slur, for the record, nor truly apologized to the people for whom the slur has so often denigrated - the game was still going on, and in perhaps a nod to a profession that has occupied so much of his life, Thom interrupted his own apology to call a home run hit by a Reds player.
It was completely surreal.
Let’s be quite clear here. Slurs like that have absolutely zero place in society as is, much less on a broadcast being streamed live to millions. On top of that, moments like this are not merely wished away by one-minute apologies.
What happened tonight will linger and resonate.
There should, and I hope will be much more to this story with Thom, as it would be the low-road to simply walk away from this entire episode with merely a quick apology and ride into whatever sunset falls next. This is an imperfect route, but an opportune time for him to both learn and grow from this, and do so with a chance to help shed just how awful a light that slur cast on all parties involved, both directly and indirectly, with what the Cincinnati Reds want to be. Who they want to be. What they want to stand for.
That he said it is not what the apology tonight reflected. That he got caught saying it was. What he does tomorrow, Friday, in September, and going forward is what will be the true apology for him.
I’m not going on the limb to suggest that one comment will forever define a person and their legacy, but this kind of comment certainly will for many if left alone, and a complete statement that never evolves. There will be, and already are, ample ways in which Thom can turn this into a teaching point, one that may help many other folks out there get a grip with just how offensive some things can be when uttered as if they’re statements of absolute fact.
I, for one, can only hope that’s the way he responds to this, and that it’s something he is truly willing to grow from. This was truly a day I don’t think any Reds fan, or baseball fan, will forget, and if he leaves it be, it will be how we remember him, too.
We shall see.