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Giancarlo Stanton, Ray Rice, James Brown, and the Plague of Male Violence

Two contrasting commentaries last night show the huge gulf that exists about male violence in sport and society.

A visibly shaken Mike Fiers.
A visibly shaken Mike Fiers.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In case you live under a rock, there have been some really horrible stories out of the sports world lately.  Two announcers offered contrasting commentaries about them last night, and the difference couldn't have been starker.

First, starting with the most recent event, Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball last night.  It was a horrible scene.  It seems, at best, Stanton will miss the rest of the year.  At worst, he'll suffer a Dickie Thon-esque injury that he can never fully recover from.  We aren't reminded of this as much as in other sports, but it's still the truth - baseball can be a very dangerous sport.  What happened last night showed us that again.

The commentary came afterwards.  Because the ump decided Stanton not only suffered a possible career-threatening injury but also moved his bat through the strike zone while slumping to the ground, he called a strike on the hit by pitch (yes, seriously).  After a long delay to cart Stanton off the field, Marlins pinch-hitter, Reed Johnson, stepped to the plate with two strikes.  Fiers' first pitch hit Johnson on the hand (though it was also called a strike, this one ending the inning).

Casey McGehee, clearly very emotional about just seeing Stanton injured, charged the umpire.  I don't know for sure, but he seemed livid about the umpire calling both hit-by-pitches strike, rather than the two hit-by-pitches.  That's understandable.

What was not understandable was the rest of the Marlins bench charging the mound.  But what was even less understandable, in fact was completely irresponsible and defenseless, was the Marlins' announcer (who I believe is Tommy Hutton, but I'm not 100% sure - can anyone confirm in the comments?).  The video clip is below.  The announcer in question comes in at about the 0:15 mark.  He leads by screaming, "Let's get going.  That's what you have to do."  And then it devolves from there.

You can listen to it yourself, but the overall point is that, in response to a clearly accidental life-threatening violent occurrence on the field, the announcer strongly advocates for even more violence.  He says that the Marlins "can't let their big guy go down so that's what you have to do."  Later, he says "you have to do exactly what the Marlins did" in response to that situation.

Luckily, there was no brawl, but there could have been.  And the announcer was fanning the flames for there to be an actual brawl.  He was almost screaming for more violence.  In the world he inhabits, the only response, the response that "you have to do," to violence (clearly unintentional violence, I might add) is more violence.

No matter how much he loves his team's star and no matter how emotional he was in that moment, this was an irresponsible and inexcusable rant encouraging group violence as a solution to a problem.  If I ran the Marlins, this guy wouldn't have a job today.

Contrast his remarks with those of James Brown in response to the Ray Rice situation.  There's no need for me to recount that situation here, but needless to say, CBS and the NFL found themselves in a very awkward situation last night, as the first game after the second Rice video surfaced, which resulted in his indefinite suspension, was a Ravens game.

CBS sports anchor James Brown handled the situation better than anyone could have imagined.  In the process, he made almost every other commentator about the issue look foolish.  And in comparison, he made the Marlins announcer look like a complete and utter ass.

Here's the video of Brown's commentary, followed by the transcript (because it's that important to hear what he had to say, that those who aren't going to or can't watch the video need to read it).

Two years ago I challenged the NFL community and all men to seriously confront the problem of domestic violence, especially coming on the heels of the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. Yet, here we are again dealing with the same issue of violence against women.

Now let’s be clear, this problem is bigger than football. There has been, appropriately so, intense and widespread outrage following the release of the video showing what happened inside the elevator at the casino. But wouldn’t it be productive if this collective outrage, as my colleagues have said, could be channeled to truly hear and address the long-suffering cries for help by so many women? And as they said, do something about it? Like an on-going education of men about what healthy, respectful manhood is all about.

And it starts with how we view women. Our language is important. For instance, when a guy says, ‘you throw the ball like a girl’ or ‘you’re a little sissy,’ it reflects an attitude that devalues women and attitudes will eventually manifest in some fashion. Women have been at the forefront in the domestic violence awareness and prevention arena. And whether Janay Rice considers herself a victim or not, millions of women in this country are.

Consider this: According to domestic violence experts, more than three women per day lose their lives at the hands of their partners. That means that since the night February 15th in Atlantic City [when the elevator incident occurred] more than 600 women have died.

So this is yet another call to men to stand up and take responsibility for their thoughts, their words, their deeds and as Deion [Sanders] says to give help or to get help, because our silence is deafening and deadly.

This is how you talk about violence.  You condemn it.  You advocate getting at its root causes.  You call out those who are complicit with it.  You tell everyone they have a role in working to stop it.

What you don't do is advocate violence as a way to solve problems.  What you don't do is say that men (and the boys who are emulating them) need to be hyper-masculine and macho in order to deal with an emotional situation.  What you don't do is say that when your emotions are at their peak, you use violence to cope.  If you say that, you are teaching more male violence in the world.  You are actively encouraging more Ray Rices.

James Brown nailed it last night.  The Marlins announcer completed failed.