Former Cubs slugger Aramis Ramírez said to The Athletic that he felt Bob Brenly's commentary discriminated against and attacked him when Brenly was broadcasting Cubs games during the star's final years with the franchise.
Brenly is the current color commentator for the Diamondbacks broadcasts on Bally Sports Arizona, and has been drawing widespread criticism after making a comment about Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman's attire on Tuesday night.
"Pretty sure that's the same durag that Tom Seaver used to wear when he pitched for the Mets," Brenly said during the telecast.
Stroman responded to Brenly's comments, saying on Twitter, "Onward and upward...through all adversity and racist undertones. The climb continues through all!"
Brenly said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that it was a “poor attempt at humor that was insensitive and wrong.” Brenly added that he will seek sensitivity training.
And on Thursday, the broadcaster announced in a second statement that he'd be stepping away from the broadcasts to reflect on his remarks.
When Brenly's initial statement circled on social media, an unverified account that seemed to be run by Ramírez commented on multiple posts that criticized Brenly, stating that he didn't understand how the broadcaster still had the job. The star's agent confirmed to The Athletic that the account was in fact Ramírez's.
In a joint interview with The Athletic, Ramírez revealed that he felt this was a pattern from Brenly.
“It felt weird because every time he attacked somebody, it was a Latin player for some reason,” Ramírez said of his time in Chicago.
The native of the Dominican Republic said he noticed a change in Brenly's comments about him when Ramírez got closer to free agency in 2011. The slugger joined the franchise in 2004 and made two All-Star teams, won a Silver Slugger and finished in the top 20 of NL MVP voting four times.
According to Ramírez, the broadcaster said: “I never got a clutch hit, that I was a numbers stacker.”
The star added that he felt Brenly’s harsh criticism couldn't be separated from the color of his skin. “He went after Starlin Castro pretty hard, Geovany Soto pretty hard.” Ramírez does not remember Brenly criticizing the white players.
“You know what’s surprising about that stuff? I never had a racial problem before in my life in the States, before Brenly or after Brenly,” Ramírez said.
After the slugger's comments, Brenly issued another statement to The Athletic.
“I have the utmost respect for their life stories, their talents and their careers,” the statement read in part about Ramírez and other Latin American players who played for Chicago. “Having played the game and managed for many years, I understand how hard it is to play so successfully for such a long time.”
He added that his job is to “describe Major League Baseball and to call it the way I see it — the good and the bad. I have always tried to do so in an honest, unbiased way, regardless of a player’s background or race.”
Brenly said in the statement that he is “sorry that my work offended Aramis, as I think of him as one of the most successful players of his generation.” And it ended by saying that he will step away from broadcasting duties for a short period to “listen, reflect and devote my attention to awareness training related to diversity and enhance my understanding and appreciation of others. I plan to return to the booth next homestand, hopefully a better person.”
The Diamondbacks return to Chase Field on June 11.
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