Sunday’s Philadelphia Phillies-Washington Nationals matchup on NBC Sports Philadelphia was like the wild west of MLB broadcasts.
The Phillies were celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1980 World Series Championship team following a two-year delay of the event due to the pandemic. Throughout the afternoon, the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast featuring play-by-play voice Tom McCarthy and analyst John Kruk welcomed members of the 1980 team into the booth to chat about the World Series winning season.
Prior to the network allowing Pete Rose on the broadcast to share a cast of expletive-laden stories after the hit leader dismissed a female reporter earlier in the day, Hall-of-Fame pitcher Steve Carlton entered the booth and offered a bizarre joke.
During Carlton’s appearance in the third inning of the game, popular mascot the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance with popcorn.
“Remember, AOC wants to date him,” Carlton said referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY and the Phanatic. Carlton proceeded to repeat himself to make sure the comment wasn’t overlooked. “AOC wants to date him.”
I can't figure out what Steve Carlton's AOC joke meant pic.twitter.com/T8v0nNRD6v
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) August 9, 2022
“Who wouldn’t want to?” McCarthy asked after an awkward chuckle.
“That’s a political joke,” Carlton said attempting to explain his quip.
For the life of me, I still can’t figure out what the joke means, but perhaps someone with more political prowess can explain. Last year, Ocasio-Cortez said “Republicans are mad they can’t date me,” but I’m not sure what that would have to do with the Phanatic. The only thing I can come up with is that it’s related to the Green New Deal and the Phanatic being green. But that’s definitely a stretch.
Carlton, nicknamed Lefty, is not a lefty in the political sense. Did he just enter the booth determined to make an AOC comment and somehow thought the Phanatic was his window of opportunity?
There wasn’t anything wrong or offensive with Carlton’s joke, it was harmless. It just didn’t appear to make any sense, which added to what was a truly bizarre day in the Phillies’ broadcast booth. McCarthy and Kruk handled it well by not asking Carlton to expound on the joke because I’m confident there was no real explanation or need to go down that path. Although part of me would have liked to hear him try.