Red Sox color commentator Jerry Remy sounds off on translators

Jun 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; A general view of Fenway Park prior to batting practice before a game between the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; A general view of Fenway Park prior to batting practice before a game between the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy may be heading for the gulag of sensitivity training after his recent excursion in the language of baseball.

There are consequences and certainly repercussions when public statements are made before hundreds of thousands of people. In our everyone is now offended by something society, Boston Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy came and managed to firmly place himself into the middle of a public relations firestorm.

Remy’s foot in mouth moment came in a game in New York when Yankee starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka had the assistance of an interpreter on the mound when paid a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Remy for some reason found this measure intolerable – the real crux is the pace of the game, but Remy insisted that such visits should be illegal.

During Tuesday night’s NESN broadcast, Remy sounded off on his views on players using interpreters during games.

"Learn baseball language. You know, learn—it’s pretty simple. You break it down pretty easy between pitching coach and pitcher after a long period of time."

Remy was given ample opportunity by announcer Dave O’Brian, who questioned Remy, who promptly had his foot transferred from his mouth to quicksand by stating player’s “should learn baseball language.”

Remy was not alone in the sudden removal of political correctness as a Phillies’ Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in an interview stated that Odubel Herrera is not one to build a team around over his inability to speak English.

"First of all, it’s a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game; or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game; or come over to a guy and say, ‘Man, you gotta run that ball out.’ Just can’t be — because of the language barrier — that kind of a player."

The reaction was swift and fully expected since almost any comment can be framed as racist, xenophobic or any other stigmatization terms. NESN – the Red Sox broadcasting outlet – quickly apologized as did the Red Sox. The Red Sox are particularly sensitive to anything with a sniff of the “R” word after the Adam Jones incident last month.

Quite naturally the expected broadsides were being exchanged on social media which devolved into a circus of accusations, stupefying use of profanity and into areas totally unrelated to the issue at hand.

Many a talented player simply folded when brought to the United States without any support. Most of the newcomers had limited exposure to our culture and no or little language skills. I remember reading about the talented right-hander Pedro Ramos, who ordered bacon and eggs almost every meal since he could not speak English. Ramos then advanced to pointing at menu pictures and then full fluency. A topic I touched on regarding Mexican players that can certainly apply to others.

How times have changed.

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Baseball actually has firm rules in place that allow assistance with language. Baseball also has a serious investment in foreign talent – especially Latino talent. Baseball academies proliferate the landscape of international signings can be staggering – just think Rusney Castillo. Latino, Japanese, Korean and much more as baseball is a polyglot of cultures.

The Red Sox made a substantial investment in Yoan Moncada and were fully aware of the necessity of support. The Red Sox signed 27-year-old Carlos Mesa to play in Greenville and assume the role of tutor, confessor, translator, and watchdog. Mesa was also, like Moncada, a Cuban and had been in the United States for five years.

What about Tanaka?

I have some issues and undoubtedly this will migrate in the view of some into being what Remy is being classified by far too many. Tanaka has been in the big leagues going into his fourth season. Is he living in a bubble? Is he as dumb as a bag of hammers? The answer is a resounding “no,” but why does he still need an interpreter? At this point, the communication – even rudimentary – should be well established on basic pitching lingo. Note that – pitching, folks.

Maybe there is some legitimacy in Remy’s statement as it applies to Tanaka? That, however, will not satisfy the lust of the perpetually offended. No amount of apology, genuflecting and humbleness will erase Remy’s social faux pas.

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I have sympathy for Remy despite the fact I am one who has found his game analysis tedious – and if you read my stuff you know I am an expert on tedious. Eventually, this will blow over and those shouts of asking for Remy’s larynx to be removed will dwindle. My fear is it will not in our current toxic environment.