So now that Harold Reynolds has confirmed that he was indeed fired for sexual harassment, we wonder for a moment: Is there any way he could come back?
We mean that not as a plea, or even a desire. We also mean it not as an excuse for his actions; anyone who has ever worked in a sports department anywhere can tell you how easily the environment can turn toxic for female reporters and editors in the vicinity. (We're reminded of the great quote from Pam of "The Office:" "Usually the day we talk about sexual harassment is the day everyone harasses me as a joke.") Reynolds clearly seems to be
more of a problem than he was a solution. We simply ask it as a matter of practice. Anyone who has read Mike Freeman's seminal book "ESPN: The Uncensored History" knows that several staffers, most notably Mike Tirico, have committed far more egregious offenses and slipped away with suspensions rather than firings.
Reynolds has to know this. He even implies as much in his statement to the New York Post, saying it was a "misunderstanding" and his goal was "to sit down and get back." That doesn't sound like someone tucking his tail between his legs and slinking off quietly. That sounds like he wants his job back.
A source close to the situation postulates: "I can guarantee you that Harold knows exactly what ESPN let Tirico and others get away with and figures that if he plays nice, agrees to go along with 'Baseball Tonight"s creative direction, a nice 'internal investigation' will determine it was a 'misunderstanding' and Harold will be back in the ESPN fold."
That is to say: The real question might not be whether or not ESPN can continue to stay quiet about this — they can — but whether or not Reynolds will continue to be.
(UPDATE: We've heard from several people who say this notion is nuts; Reynolds won't be back. So you know.)