Matt Vasgersian reaches out and publicly
apologizes for comments made on-the-air
UPDATE: Vasgersian apologizes on MLB Tonight. See embedded video below.
The first studio analyst hire that MLB Network made was that of Matt Vasgersian. As a play-by-play man, he had been with the San Diego Padres, and prior to that, the Milwaukee Brewers. He also was a member of NBC’s 2008 Olympic coverage.
But, Monday night, Vasgersian veered into territory that, depending on the individual, may have gotten them fired.
As MLB Tonight covered the Padres/Rockies highlights, the coverage turned to a freakish play in which Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe was hit in the neck by Padres catcher Nick Hundley's throw to second base in the sixth inning. The hit to the neck resulted in a concussion, but at the time, it appeared as if the ball may have hit Hawpe in the back of the head and possibly done spinal damage.
After the footage was shown, Vasgersian asked for the footage to be shown again where Hawpe being carted off the field in a neck brace. Referencing a member of the Rockies EMT staff, Vasgersian quipped, “Isn’t that Donavan McNabb?”
It was a moment that was awkward, to say the least.
The footage was posted on YouTube (see the footage at the bottom of this article), and since then, public commentary has been decidedly negative toward Vasgersian. I ran a column being critical of him, as well (see MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian Needs to Work on Being Professional).
It could have been at that stage that Vasgersian issued a statement through MLB Network, or reacted as many before him have done: lay low; say nothing. Wait for the heat to die down.
Vasgersian did neither. Instead, he went to issuing apologies personally, with The Biz of Baseball as one location where he did so, addressing my column, and all the critical remarks from readers.
His comment title reads, “Agree with all of the above” (see the original comment here)
Yup .. bad spot to try and fill a down moment with an attempt at humor. I certainly didn't mean to trivialize an injury but knew it came off that way as soon as the words came out of my mouth. Dumb. Some regrettably poor judgment occurring on live TV. I feel pretty bad about it and hope I didn't offend too many people hoping this as an apology conveys a bit of foot-in-mouth remorse.
In talking with those close to the situation at MLB Network, they say that Vasgersian is sincerely sorry for the comments. While some have called for some sort of punishment, I am not in that category.
I recall all too well interviewing FOX Sports analyst, Steve Lyons just a couple of days after his comments on the air with Lou Pinella. Those comment were offensive enough to FOX to warrant Lyons’ firing. Lyons said he was sorry, only so far as to say he didn't feel he said anything wrong. Vasgersian is taking all the responsibility, and issuing an apology directly.
With that in mind, Vasgersian is being punished for the gaff already. He’s certain to be embarrassed. The broadcast community is very small, highly competitive, and one that judges their brethren. He also knows that while the MLB Network brass is behind him, it was no doubt an action that made them wince.
Vasgersian, I believe, is a top notch studio analyst. The line between being edgy and offensive is the width of a hair. Dance along it, and you can be a star. Dancing over it can put you in the unemployment line.
The fact that Vasgersian went so far as to take his apology directly to the fans shows he has a deep concern for what they think. That should be commended. Here’s to hoping that Vasgersian no longer finds controversy of this nature, and instead sees a long and fruitful career.
Original Commentary By Vasgersian
Apology Issued on Tuesday Night
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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