The Detroit Tigers and the team's television provider have responded following comments made by one of its TV analysts.
Colour commentator Jack Morris has been suspended for using a mock Asian accent during the Bally Sports Detroit (BSD) broadcast of Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park.
"Bally Sports Detroit is extremely disappointed with the remarks analyst Jack Morris made during last night's Tigers game," said BSD in a statement. "Jack has been suspended indefinitely from Tigers broadcasts and will be undergoing bias training to educate him on the impact of his comments and how he can be a positive influence in a diverse community. We have a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination and deeply apologize for his insensitive remark."
In another statement, the Tigers also indicated zero tolerance for such behaviour.
"The Detroit Tigers take immense pride in honouring the diverse cultures that make up our players, coaching staff, front office, fan base and community," wrote the team. "We are deeply disappointed by the comments made by Jack Morris during the broadcast [Tuesday] night. We fully support Bally Sports Detroit’s decision and their ongoing commitment to ensure that all personnel are held to the highest standards of personal conduct."
It happened in the sixth inning of the Tigers' 8-2 loss to the Angels, with Los Angeles superstar Shohei Ohtani at the plate. When play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard asked Morris what the Tigers needed to do to stop the Japanese-born player, Morris replied "Be very, very careful" in an accent perceived by some to be offensive to Asian-Americans.
The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 poses in Cooperstown, New York. From left, Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. Photo courtesy National Baseball Hall of Fame/Twitter.
Morris apologized for the comments during the ninth inning of the broadcast.
"It's been brought to my attention, and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially anybody in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani," said Morris on air, via the Detroit Free Press. "I did not intend for any offensive thing, and I apologize if I did. I certainly respect and have the utmost respect for this guy."
Morris pitched for the Tigers from 1977 to 1990 and was known for his abrasive style on and off the mound. He won a World Series with Detroit in 1984 and won titles in 1991 with the Minnesota Twins, and in 1992 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018, and his #47 was retired by the Tigers.
Morris has worked with the Tigers in the broadcast booth in various capacities since 2015.