The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick, while admitting he never liked Steve Lyons to begin with, writes it would be “simple, easy, and unfair,” to throw Psycho “on the scrap heap of sportscasters fired for social insensitivity.”
Lyons claims that the crack was not intended to be ethnic. And, for what it’s worth, Lou Piniella, Hispanic-American, laughed. That’s what Lyons was hired for – laughs. And that’s why he was fired.
The precedent was set in 1988, when Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder, hired by CBS because he was a street guy with a big mouth, was fired for the same reasons. What Snyder said about the ascent of African-American athletes, while fact-based, sounded offensive.
Just last year, Sid Rosenberg was sacked by Don Imus/WFAN for acting like a lowbrow creep – for doing what he was hired to do.
In 1996, when Lyons was hired by Fox, he seemed the perfect fit. As a major leaguer, he was best known for having dropped his pants while standing at first. In 1996 network and sports execs suddenly become eager to attract (and desensitize) young male audiences by blending “sports with entertainment.”
That game plan, despite diminishing returns – few, if any, tuned to a game because they found Lyons entertaining – is still at work.
In fact, for those who actually enjoy sports more when attached to offensive remarks, images and overall antisocial behavior, we suggest Fox Sports Net, which would have been the perfect fit for Lyons, all along.
Meanwhile, with Lyons sacked for what Fox called “inappropriate” comments, baseball/entertainment fans will have to settle for the vulgar, crotch-talk promos that Fox very purposely airs between half-innings.
Indeed, the barrage of spots for “Justice” are warping the minds of my unborn children. No family should be expected to tolerate all those jokes about Ron Trott’s cock.
In this instance, I think Phil misses the point by a wider margin than usual. Lyons has been generating bad publicity for Fox for ages, and while the Shawn Green Yom Kippur Massacre and blind-dude-with-the-Viewmaster incident weren’t considered worthy of termination, the likes of Richard Sandomir bringing them up again probably caused a bit of embarrassment. Whether or not Lyons is a racist is something you can go back and forth on. That his professional reputation is that of a jackass, is no longer in dispute. I think this is less about inconsistency in the network’s policies and more about their coming to the realization that Lyons was widely disliked.
As long as Joe Buck doesn’t talk about Hispanics, wallets, or raise a hand to those morons waiting for the elevator, his job is very safe.