This story can be done pretty much every season, and it’s so fucking tired, but yet you can’t help but be surprised at its regularity. Bob Brenly complains about modern baseball in a not-all-that-vaguely racist way. Last night’s target was Marcus Stroman:
Stroman, as you might imagine, wasn’t exactly thrilled with Brenly’s joke, because he knows exactly where it comes from. Labeling them “undertones” is probably too fair from Stroman, because they weren’t all that “under.” It’s just a subheading of, “That’s not my America” with “That’s not the baseball I remember,” tone that Brenly is setting here. Stroman doesn’t conform to the vision Brenly has for the game, and that vision is distinctly mayonnaise-slathered. It’s a pining for the way things used to be, a time Brenly is more comfortable with, and it’s a time that we seemingly have to keep repeating at ear-splitting volume, that passed long ago.
But this is nothing new for Brenly, who has been bitching about Latin or Black players not hustling or doing things he doesn’t perceive to be part of the game. His game. People like him’s game. Cubs fans can regale you with dozens of instances of Brenly bitching about Aramis Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano not hustling in a way he thought was proper, but there seemed to be little comment on Ryan Theriot’s complete inability to understand the rules of the game.
Or there was this about Fernando Tatis:
Or here was last year when he veered from his racist jokes to crusty baseball theory that fits better in the world of hockey:
Or here he is going nuclear on Manny Machado because that was an easy out for so many not so long ago.
This is hardly the complete list. Any D-Backs watcher, or Cubs watcher from the 2000s, knows that Brenly’s rants about how the game should be played or what’s wrong on the field is only aimed at players who just happen to not be white.
The only reason we have to put up with Brenly is because Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling both landed on him in 2001, and despite Brenly’s best efforts, the Diamondbacks won the World Series anyway. It should be noted that Arizona never won a playoff game under Brenly again, and despite using his pulpit behind the mic as a chance to pine for another job for years, he’s never gotten one. He’s one of the few dolts that even MLB figured out didn’t need to be recycled, though his lieutenant Bob Melvin has been one of the best managers around for a while now with the A’s. Funny how that works. So who really ran that 2001 Arizona team?
Whenever baseball wants to get around to figuring out why its popularity keeps sinking like a submarine made of graham crackers, it’ll find that those who present the game are shitheads like Brenly. They’re either pining for a game long ago that didn’t involve any other races but their own, or they’re actively shitting on it like John Smoltz. Why would anyone who didn’t grow up with the game and have it ingrained in them want to put up with it?
Brenly will at most have to read a prepared on-air apology that he’ll barely believe in and barely sell, and the Diamondbacks will march on as if it never happened. Apparently 2001, even 20 years later when most of those fans are probably dead by now (it is Arizona after all), still carries a lot of weight around there. Brenly gets to keep fucking up and being an asshole, and yet he remains in his seat.