Manager Tony LaRussa of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on from the dugout against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium in St. Louis Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Marty Brennaman is beloved in Cincinnati ... but in other places in the NL Central, not so much.
Marty Brennaman has been a Cincinnati Reds broadcaster since 1974, one of the longest-running local radio voices in the game. His son Thom, who started his broadcast career as a weekend TV sportscaster in Cincinnati, worked games for the Cubs and Diamondbacks before joining the Reds TV broadcast team four years ago.
It's a nice family story, only it's not. In recent years, Marty has become much more strident in his criticisms of Reds opponents and their fan bases, not to mention other controversial remarks, such as the time in 2007 that he compared a Reds road trip to the Bataan Death March of World War II. He later apologized for that.
The next year, when the Reds were in Wrigley Field in Chicago for an early-season game on April 17, 2008, multiple baseballs were thrown on the field after an Adam Dunn home run. Brennaman's comments were incendiary:
"This is the kind of thing, quite honestly, right now, that makes you want to see the Chicago Cubs team lose. Among all baseball fans, and I can't attest to the Yankees or Red Sox, because we don't see them with any degree of regularity unless it's inter-league play, but far and away the most obnoxious fans in baseball, in this league, are those who follow this team right here. Throwing 15 or 18 balls onto the field, there's absolutely no excuse for that, and that is so typical of Chicago Cubs fans. It's unbelievable."
"You simply root against 'em. Ya'know, I've said all winter they talked about this team winning the division, and my comment is they won't win it, because at the end of the day, they still are the Chicago Cubs, and they will figure out a way to screw this whole thing up."
Brennaman never apologized, and the Cubs, in fact, did win the NL Central that year.
Apparently wanting to be an equal-opportunity offender, Brennaman earlier this year bashed Pittsburgh Pirates management and now, has Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on his bad side after the Reds swept the Cardinals in their series this past weekend to move into first place. The Reds and Cardinals have become bitter rivals in the last couple of years, and the Cardinals had some complaints about the condition of the mound in Cincinnati, as well as other comments about the smoke fired off after Reds home runs at Great American Ball Park. Brennaman couldn't stay quiet:
On Monday, Brennaman called Carpenter a "whiner and excuse-maker" on the air. He also referred to Duncan as "infantile." Duncan was among those on the Cardinals bench yelling at Cordero during the game.
Brennaman said that the Cardinals "might be the most disliked team in baseball."
That didn't sit well with La Russa:
"He earned the right to get into the Hall of Fame," La Russa said. "And now he ought to keep earning that respect instead of abusing it."
I have no problems with local radio voices being "homers". They are, after all, speaking to a large audience of rabid fans of the local team. But I have never heard any local broadcaster spend as much time slamming opposing teams and fans of opposing teams as Marty Brennaman. If there's a poster child these days for "Get off my lawn!", the nearly 69-year-old Brennaman is the guy. The Reds ought to ask him to retire before he says something for which an apology won't suffice.