Lyons Fired Over Remarks
Baseball commentator Steve Lyons, whose flippant style has gotten him into trouble before, has been fired by Fox for comments he made Friday during Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
In the second inning, broadcast partner Lou Piniella was talking about Oakland’s Marco Scutaro and the success the usually light-hitting shortstop had at the plate during the previous series against Minnesota.
For the record:
12:00 AM, Oct. 16, 2006 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday October 16, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Baseball: In Sunday’s Sports section, an article on the firing of Fox commentator Steve Lyons misspelled Yom Kippur, Judaism’s Day of Atonement, as Yom Kupper.
Piniella compared it to finding a “wallet on Friday” and hoping it happened next week.
Piniella also said the A’s needed Frank Thomas to get “en fuego” -- Spanish for on fire -- and that he was currently “frio” -- cold.
Play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman said, “The bilingual Lou Piniella.”
Lyons then said, “Lou is habla- ing some Espanol 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 three announcers laughed.
But after the game, Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports, informed Lyons he was being suspended for a game. Lyons flew home Saturday, and after arriving at LAX he called his girlfriend, who told him there were reports he had been fired.
Lyons immediately drove to the Fox studios in West Los Angeles, where he was informed by Fox Sports chairman David Hill and Goren that he indeed had been fired.
“I was shocked when I was told this was an issue,” Lyons said Saturday night from his home in Hermosa Beach. “I don’t know how what I said could be taken as a racial statement. My aim is to make Lou feel comfortable, and this was just another way of doing it. We were all laughing about it.
“They’re trying to make it like I was saying Spanish people steal wallets. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think it reads worse than the way I said it. It was a joke.”
Lyons was replaced on Game 4 Saturday by Jose Mota, the Angels’ Spanish-language radio commentator who since 2001 has worked games for Fox in English and Spanish.
Lyons is also a part-time television commentator for the Dodgers, working alongside Charley Steiner on the road games east of the Rocky Mountains that Vin Scully does not do.
Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said Lyons’ status with the team is under review. The same is true of Lyons’ status as a pre- and post-game analyst for FSN Prime Ticket.
Of Fox, Lyons, 46, who had been with the network since 1996, said, “After 11 years ... I would have expected a little more support.”
In 2004, Lyons was suspended for one game for an on-air comment about Shawn Green, who was then with the Dodgers and had chosen to take a day off for Yom Kupper, a Jewish holiday:
“He’s not a practicing Jew. He didn’t marry a Jewish girl. And from what I understand, he never had a bar mitzvah, so he didn’t get the money.”
And earlier this month, on Oct. 5 during a playoff game between the Dodgers and New York Mets at Shea Stadium, Lyons and Brennaman made fun of a 64-year-old fan wearing a magnifying device over his eyes.
“Maybe he’s in virtual reality,” Lyons said. And, he continued, “He should stay there.”
The New York Times later reported that the fan wearing the device was blind except for peripheral vision in one eye.
Lyons and Brennaman apologized on the air and Fox took no action.
“Now that was mean, and that was a case of me saying something I regretted,” Lyons said. “But I didn’t think it was anything that someone should be fired for.”
Staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this story from Detroit.