“Be very, very careful,” Morris replied, using pronunciations that many found offensive. In the ninth inning, Morris said on the telecast that he had not intended any offense.
“Well folks, Shohei Ohtani is coming to the plate and 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,” Morris said. “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 and don’t blame a pitcher for walking him.”
Bally Sports Detroit, which broadcasts the games, said in an email to The Washington Post that it is “extremely disappointed with the remarks analyst Jack Morris made during last night’s Tigers game. 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.”
The Tigers, in an email statement to The Post, said they “take immense pride in honoring the diverse cultures that make up our players, coaching staff, front office, fan base and community. We are deeply disappointed by the comments made by Jack Morris during the broadcast last 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.”
Reaction to Morris’s remark was swift Tuesday night.
“The fact that this type of lazy racism keeps popping up around Shohei Ohtani speaks to so much of the media being apathetic and lacking any empathy towards the AAPI [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] experience,” ESPN’s Joon Lee, tweeted. “It’s impossible for Jack Morris to play something like this off as ‘sorry if you were offended’ when there’s not any purpose in doing this accent other than to make a caricature of AAPI people.”
ESPN’s Pablo Torre tweeted, “Tell me you have zero Asian friends without telling me you have zero Asian friends” as he shared the clip of Morris’s comment and apology.
Jack Morris apologies before Shohei Otani’s at-bat in the ninth inning. pic.twitter.com/WdCjfyfSvX
— Spencer Wheelock (@SpencerWheelock) August 18, 2021
Some viewers called for Morris to be fired. “There are 30 MLB teams, which means fewer than 100 TV color commentary positions,” Twitter user Daniel R. Epstein wrote. “Just find 100 intelligent baseball minds who won’t make racist remarks. Jack Morris isn’t special and doesn’t need a second chance.”