Tuesday was quite the day for baseball analysts discussing language. Philadelphia Phillies analyst Mike Schmidt said a “language barrier” prevents Odubel Herrera from being a building block (he later apologized at the start of the team’s broadcast), and then Boston Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy complained about New York Yankees’ pitcher Masahiro Tanaka having a translator involved in a mound visit during NESN’s Red Sox-Yankees broadcast, saying “I don’t think that should be legal” and “learn baseball language.”
UPDATE: NESN has issued the following statement on Remy’s comments:
Relative to last night’s NESN telecast from New York, NESN does not agree with any such views expressed by Jerry Remy and we know from talking to Jerry that he regrets making them. The network sincerely apologizes to anyone who was offended by Jerry’s comments.
And Remy has issued a tweet as well:
I sincerely apologize to those who were offended by my comments during the telecast last night.
— Jerry Remy (RemDawg) (@Jerry_Remy) June 7, 2017
Remy later issued an on-air statement before Wednesday’s game:
Here’s the original clip, from Sports Funhouse:
#RedSox analyst Jerry Remy would make it illegal for translators to go to the mound; thinks foreign pitchers should learn baseball language. pic.twitter.com/mbqeRLvGmO
— Sports Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) June 7, 2017
And a transcription of the original comments from Remy and play-by-play commentator Dave O’Brien:
O’Brien: “That was a relatively quick conversation. [Yankees pitching coach] Larry Rothschild along with the translator.”
Remy: “Ah, that’s what it was. I had that wrong. I thought it was the trainer going out there. I forgot with Tanaka they take out a translator. I don’t think that should be legal.”
Remy: “I, uh, I really don’t.”
O’Brien: “Jackie Bradley, 0-for-1…what is it that you don’t like about that?”
Remy: “Um…learn baseball language. You know, learn. You know, it’s pretty simple. You break it down pretty easy between pitching coach and pitcher after a long period of time.”
O’Brien: “I would say that probably, you know, they’re concerned about nuance being lost in some of these conversations.”
This was fascinating because of the way O’Brien at least mildly challenged Remy’s stance and got him to further explain it. And O’Brien seems quite right here; there’s a lot at stake in a MLB game, and do you really want to have that potentially impacted by a communication mistake in a player’s second language when you already have a translator who can alleviate that? It’s not like including the translator slows this conference down any, either, as both he and Rothschild came out from the dugout.
There doesn’t seem to be a really good reason for Remy’s dislike of this, especially in an era where baseball is such an international game. MLB clubs are required to have translators where needed, so why not use those translators and make sure that the coach’s advice is communicated clearly? Complaining about translators feels like a very old-school move, and one without a lot to support it.
[Sports Funhouse on Twitter]