Jock Shock: Fox Sports Broadcaster Sorry For 'Wallet' Wallop
Lyons, in his usual analyst's role during the American League Championship Series, was fired Friday after making on-air comments Fox deemed racially insensitive. During the broadcast, Lyons alluded to fellow analyst Lou Piniella's analogy about a missing wallet along with Piniella's speaking Spanish on the air. And Lyons indicated he didn't want to sit next to Piniella. Fox apparently interpreted that as Lyons making a link between Hispanics and missing wallets. (Thom Brennaman was the third man in the booth and was doing play-by-play.)
"...I truly apologize to anybody that was offended by my conversation with Thom Brennaman and Lou Piniella," Lyons said in the release. "The origin and intent of the joke was about my missing wallet, not race. I did not intend to single out any particular race and in fact have many close Hispanic friends and a bi-racial grandson. It never crossed my mind, it is a ridiculous and far reaching conclusion."
A Fox representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fox fired Lyons after the game between Oakland and Detroit for what a Fox spokesman told The New York Times were "inappropriate" comments.
"I feel that it is unfortunate that after 11 years with Fox that my career would come to such an abrupt end and also at the expense of my personal reputation," Lyons said in the release on Wednesday. "It seems as though my comments actually had to be critically scrutinized to really make a connection."
The controversial on-air exchange reportedly unfolded as follows: Piniella said that an Oakland player who had been on a hot streak was bound to cool off, and couldn't be counted on to continue to hit so well. It would be "like finding a wallet on a Friday night and looking for one on Sunday and Monday, too," he said.
Later, Piniella used Spanish to express another thought and Lyons followed: "Lou's habla'ing some Español there, and I'm still looking for my wallet. I don't understand him and I don't want to sit close to him now."
The Timessaid that all three announcers laughed at Lyons' comments.
Lyons is known to be outspoken and often outlandish in his role as an announcer.
"I believe my sense of humor and personality are my strong suits along with my knowledge of the game, that's why I was hired and able to enjoy such a lengthy career," Lyons said in the statement.
Lyons, who will maintain a role as an analyst with the Los Angeles Dodgers but go through diversity training, said in the release he hopes Fox will reconsider: "I loved my opportunities at Fox for 11 years, I hope they could look at this again and re-instate my ability to work and most importantly, my long hard-earned reputation."
Lyons, 46, played eight years in the Major Leagues before moving to broadcasting.