Thom Brennaman, Mark Grace and the problem with being yourself on TV – Chicago Sun-Times

Posted: August 22, 2020 at 2:52 am


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You cant be anybody but you. You can try, but eventually, over time, the real version of you will emerge, in all its glory and in all its imperfections.

Thats the lesson of Thom Brennaman and Mark Grace. You are what your words say you are. When youre paid for the words that roll off your tongue, it can be a dangerous existence.

Brennaman, the Reds TV play-by-play announcer, was about to come out of a commercial break during a game Wednesday when a hot microphone caught him referring to an undisclosed place as one of the f-- capitals of the world. The Reds suspended him for the anti-gay slur, and Fox yanked him from this seasons NFL broadcasts.

Grace, who appears periodically on Cubs TV broadcasts, referred to his ex-wife as a dingbat on air during a game a week ago. He hasnt been seen on a telecast since, and there has been no word on when hell return.

Im not equating the words the two men used. Brennamans was clearly more deplorable. Im noting the way that true colors inevitably come out.

If that hot mic had caught Brennaman saying one of the gay capitals of the world, Im guessing there wouldnt have been as much of an uproar. But he didnt. He used an epithet for a homosexual. That doesnt come out by accident. It comes out by habit. It reminds me of something somebody would say in high school. But Brennaman is a 56-year-old man, not a 14-year-old freshman.

As for Grace, his use of the word dingbat to describe his ex-wife tells us that hes stuck in 1975. But it also tells us that he has absolutely no self-awareness. Who thinks dingbat is something that can be said on a broadcast? Someone who is clueless.

Whenever I was around Grace in the Cubs clubhouse, I always felt like I was listening to a guy who had watched Bull Durham about 100 times too many. I couldnt tell where he started and where Kevin Costners sage, folksy Crash Davis character ended. People often laughed at the things Grace said when he was a player. Maybe a guy starts to think that everything he says is funny. That doesnt explain why Grace thinks dingbat is a good word to describe a woman, but it might explain why he would utter it publicly. Im not just the life of the party. I am the party.

Both men apologized, but public apologies mean almost nothing. Few people trust them. In Brennamans case, what was he apologizing for? That something he very clearly meant to say was caught by a busybody mic?

In a later apology, he tried to say that his subsequent research into the history of the homophobic word he used opened his eyes to the ugliness of it. He said he had no idea it was so rooted in hate. Really? What did you think it was rooted in? Whimsy? This is a very good example of making a bad thing worse. Of words revealing what you are.

Cancel-culture watchdogs immediately complained that Brennamans punishments were a prime example of political correctness gone haywire. But nobody canceled him. He canceled himself, and he seemed to know it almost immediately.

I dont know if Im going to be putting on this headset again, he said during his on-air apology.

I dont know Brennaman, a former Cubs broadcaster. Ive met him a few times. He might be a great person. But if you know a word that can get you into deep trouble professionally, it makes sense that youd do everything in your power not to say it in a work environment. Yet he said it anyway. That suggests it wasnt a one-off thing with him.

Hes human. So is Grace. So are we all. Weve all said things we wish we hadnt. But when you say something publicly, its a pretty good indication of who and what you are. And when you say it with a microphone near your mouth, its an indictment. NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury praised the NHLs bubble on the air Thursday night, saying there were no women to distract the players. Viewers criticized him for being sexist. What else would they have to go on?

Its up to Brennaman and Grace to decide if theyre happy with themselves, regardless of what happens to them professionally.

You cant be anybody but you. That sounds fatalistic, I know. It sounds like everything in life has been predetermined, that none of us can change, that were not in charge. Thats not true.

You are who you are. Youre what you say. But youre also what you do after that stupid thing you just said. Gentlemen, your move.

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Thom Brennaman, Mark Grace and the problem with being yourself on TV - Chicago Sun-Times

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August 22nd, 2020 at 2:52 am

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