ESPN’s Eduardo Pérez has offered an apology and explanation after chiding San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatís Jr. during Sunday Night Baseball.
The slight came after Mookie Betts hit a game-tying, two-out, ninth-inning homer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. While showing a replay of the home run, ESPN cameras panned to Tatís, prompting Pérez to say, “That’s what a superstar looks like, Nando. Mookie Betts.”
Many baseball fans felt the comment was an unnecessary dig at Tatís, who is a superstar in his own right. Monday morning, Pérez listened back to the comment prior to his MLB Network Radio show and agreed with his critics.
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“As soon as I said it, I cringed,” Pérez said on his SiriusXM Radio show. “It wasn’t that I was carried away in the moment, it’s that you look at the screen because you’re trying to see and follow where the director is going as well. By coincidence, it was Fernando Tatís Jr. that popped up on the screen. It could have been anyone else…it could have been Dave Roberts. And I said, ‘Nando, this is what superstars look like.’ And I cringed a little bit and I said, ‘Did it sound bad or not?’
“And this is the human side because it’s all live. I own it 100 percent because I saw the replay later on when I got here and I cringed,” Pérez continued, admitting the comment sounded terrible. “This is one that I’ll also have to apologize to the player. Because that’s not right. That’s not who I am and that’s not how I sound professionally on-air…there was no reason to single him out that way. But I said, I own it. It sounded that way even though the intention wasn’t that way.”
The comment may have been awkward and unnecessary coming from a national broadcaster who is supposed to be calling a game without bias, but it wasn’t a reprehensible or even punishable offense. If the same comment was made by a local broadcaster, it probably doesn’t garner the same criticism.
Tatís is a superstar, finishing top-five in the NL MVP race twice before turning 23 years old. But after missing the entire 2022 season with a wrist injury, shoulder surgery and an 80-game suspension for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, Tatís is going to hear it from critics until reaffirming his worth. Pérez, however, didn’t intend to be one of those critics.