Fox fires Lyons after insensitive comment
By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer
October 14, 2006
DETROIT (AP) -- 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.
The network confirmed Saturday that Lyons was dismissed after Friday's game. He has been replaced for the remainder of the series by Los Angeles Angels announcer Jose Mota.
Piniella had made an analogy involving the luck of finding a wallet, then briefly used a couple of Spanish phrases during Friday's broadcast.
Lyons said that Piniella was "hablaing Espanol" -- butchering the conjugation for the word "to speak" -- and added, "I still can't find my wallet."
"I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit too close to him now," Lyons continued.
Lyons claimed he was kidding.
"If I offended anybody, I'm truly sorry," Lyons said in a phone interview. "But my comment about Lou taking my wallet was a joke and in no way racially motivated."
Lyons flew Saturday to Los Angeles, where he hoped to meet with Fox chairman David Hill. Lyons had been working in the booth for the ALCS alongside Thom Brennaman and Piniella, the No. 2 broadcast team for Fox this postseason.
"Steve Lyons has been relieved of his Fox Sports duties for making comments on air that the company found inappropriate," network spokesman Dan Bell said.
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.
Fox executives told Lyons after the game he had been fired.
Piniella, approached before Saturday's Game 4, declined to comment on the situation except to say: "No, he's not here today."
This was not a first-time offense for Lyons, nicknamed "Psycho" during his nine-year big league career as a utilityman that ended in 1993 with the Boston Red Sox.
Hired when Fox began broadcasting baseball in 1996, Lyons was suspended without pay in late September 2004 after his remarks about Shawn Green of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Green is Jewish and elected not to play one of the two games at San Francisco that took place during the Yom Kippur holiday.
The network apologized for Lyons' remarks at the time.
Earlier in the playoffs, while working the Mets-Dodgers NLDS, Lyons unwittingly made fun of a nearly blind fan who was wearing special glasses to see the game.
"He's got a digital camera stuck to his face," Lyons said.
He also once pulled down his pants on the field during his playing days.
Lyons, 46, was a career .252 hitter with 19 home runs and 196 RBIs for Boston, the Chicago White Sox, Atlanta and Montreal. He was a first-round draft pick by the Red Sox, 19th overall, in 1981.
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker and AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed to this story.