Jack Morris punished for mocking Shohei Ohtani; others not for similar tropes

Again, if Madame Justice toils blindfolded, I suspect she does a lot of peeking. 

Jack Morris did a stupid thing last week. The Hall of Fame pitcher and Tigers TV announcer tried to compliment the Angels’ Japanese star Shohei Ohtani as he was about to bat in a tie game when he said, “Be very, very careful.” 

But Morris said it attached to Charlie Chan-accented and antiquated parody English. 

Morris soon apologized on-air. But an apology didn’t cut it. He was indefinitely suspended and, at 66, ordered to undergo “sensitivity training.” 

Ohtani graciously forgave Morris, adding through an interpreter that he took no great offense. 

On the other hand, we have Shaquille O’Neal. 

O’Neal once mocked Chinese NBA center Yao Ming in 2003 with a string of Chinese-accented gibberish: “Ching chong yang wah, ah-so.” He figured, like Morris, he was being clever. 

So what happened to O’Neal? Nothing. In fact, his TV commercial endorsement deals — he’s now seen selling everything — continued to grow. Issued a media pass, there was no big deal made thus move along. 

To that end, O’Neal is blessed with immunity and impunity. He stumbled upon a photo of a young man in 2014. The poor soul’s face was badly disfigured by a genetic disorder. 

O’Neal thought that was hysterical. He posted the photo on social media beside a photo of himself grotesquely contorting his face, cruelly mocking the young man’s appearance for all to share in the fun. 

What happened next? Nothing. His endorsements and special guest star TV appearances continued to grow. Neither episode brought up. 

Recently, Packers receiver Devin Funchess, a 27-year-old college man — Michigan, a tough school to be accepted to unless recruited to play football or basketball — explained examining masked media faces: 

“I like to smile. I can tell you’re smiling, I can see your face [through the mask],” he told reporters before making a slant-eyed, gesture with his fingers. “I can see the face, everybody goes Chinky, and that’s how I know.” 

Funchess apologized. Then played on. 

These must be curious times for Asian-Americans and Asians in America. 

After the 2017 race riot in Virginia, ESPN re-assigned football play-by-play man Robert Lee, an Asian-American and widely unknown to viewers, off a University of Virginia home game lest anyone confuse him with Confederate general Robert E. Lee, who died in 1870.

“There he is! Let’s get him!” 

“Get who?” 

“That Asian dude, over there, carrying a laptop. He’s that Johnny Reb, Robert E. Lee!” 

So, while Shaquille O’Neal and Devin Funchess did much the same as Jack Morris, only worse, only Morris was pulled off the job as a racist and ordered to undergo counseling. Only Morris was forced to walk the plank.

Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris speaks to fans during a ceremony in his honor before the start of the Tigers game against Minnesota on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Jack Morris

History more interesting than bat-flip highlights, betting lines

Imagine how much more appealing MLB Network could be if it ceased or even cut back on selling bat-flipping, home plate-posing and gambling lines as the essences of baseball. 

Gary Cieradkowski — Gary C. to us — is an accomplished baseball artist and historian who specializes in telling the tales of fascinating odd fellows and women who have played serious baseball — from long ago and long forgotten crooks, to scholars, to Negro Leaguers, to U.S. presidents, to a convicted murderer, to characters with names such as “Moonlight” Graham, who played one game for the 1905 N.Y. Giants. 

A recent Ciaradowski booklet — No. 36 in a series — focused on a player named “Linh’us’r.” Having seen that name in a 1912 box score, he had to know more. He went to work. 

On May 18, 1912, William Charles Leinhauser was one of nine amateurs who replaced the Detroit Tigers for one game, in Philadelphia, when the Tigers went on strike. 

The Tigers struck in support of Ty Cobb, who batted .409 that season but had been briefly suspended — banned by AL president Ban Johnson — for entering the stands to beat a spectator who had been trashing him during a game at the N.Y. Highlanders, which the next year became the Yankees. 

Leinhauser, shortened to Linh’us’r to fit the agate box scores in newspapers, played center in place of Cobb, wearing Cobb’s uniform, an outfit much too big for him — Cobb was 6-foot-1 — perhaps why he was hit in the head by a fly ball. 

“Too small for the uniform, too big for the box score,” wrote Gary C. 

The one-game Tigers committed nine errors and lost, 24-2, to the A’s. 

Leinhauser later again made Philadelphia’s newspapers as a cop who made a narcotics arrest. 

Maybe I’m crazy, but a weekly half-hour show about such folks, artwork, photos, grainy footage and newspaper clips included, say, weekend mornings on MLBN then repeated throughout the week, would make for a welcomed change of pace and interesting viewing. 

Production costs would be minimal. MLBN could bang out four episodes in a day. 

After all, if you’ve seen one-bat-flip, one opening betting line and one irrelevant debate on who will win that night’s game, you’ve seen them all. 

In the meantime, Gary C. can be contacted at [email protected].

MLB tags in WWE

How desperate are MLB’s marketing folks? They’re now partnering with the bottom-of-the-barrel WWE — graphic violence for kids, drugs, sudden deaths, soft-core porn, vulgar T-shirt sales — to sell WWE-themed MLB merchandise. 

We could smell this coming in April, when MLB hired WWE executive Brian Stedman as its executive vice president of strategy and development. 

But we’ll credit Stedman for candor. Some, when they depart the employ of Vince and Linda McMahon, carefully omit that gig from their bios. 

Email of the Week was sent by reader Jack Maroney: 

“Once again, ESPN ruins the Little League World Series. These kids are 12, but if we listen to [ESPN’s broadcasting team of] Jessica Mendoza and [ex-big leaguer] Xavier Scruggs, none of the kids just swing the bat and get a hit. 

“All of them ‘make adjustments,” “allow pitches to travel,” “expand the strike zone,” etc. 

“Oh, and be careful, they are so advanced they will ‘jump on mistakes.’ 

“But the mistakes are few and far between because the pitchers are also so advanced that they’ll ‘elevate fastballs,’ ‘work the zone’ and ‘run pitches in on the hands’ at will.” 

And now the LLWS includes replay reviews. 

Again, if Steve Cohen thinks it’s only his Mets … 

Mariners-Rangers on Thursday, a game with the DH: 14 of 19 batters were hitting under .250, four starters were hitting under .200. 

But there were three home runs, and as they say in the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about! 

Once, the arrest this week of Rashaun Jones for the 2006 shooting murder of University of Miami football teammate Bryan Pata, expected to be an early draft pick, would have made for big, ugly news. 

Now? Well, with the recruitment of full scholarship college student-athletes having almost nothing to do with being educated by the colleges that recruit them to win ballgames and attract TV money, such stories are neither shocking to the public nor shameful to the colleges. 

Also Thursday, six Kentucky football players were arrested for burglary, one for brandishing a gun. 

The only annual change is that it grows worse. In other words, next! 

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