SAN DIEGO - Rick Sutcliffe, a Cy Young award winner and ESPN baseball analyst, gave a rambling, slurred interview during the local television broadcast of the Brewers-Padres game Wednesday night.
Sutcliffe’s microphone eventually was cut off. Craig Nichols, general manager of Channel 4 San Diego, on Thursday described the interview as embarrassing.
It was the second time in three weeks that comments during a broadcast at Petco Park drew attention. On April 22, Former Mets and Cardinals All-Star Keith Hernandez, now a broadcaster for New York, said that women “don’t belong in the dugout” after spotting Padres massage therapist Kelly Calabrese high-fiving Mike Piazza after he hit a home run.
Sutcliffe, who used to broadcast Padres games for Channel 4 San Diego, dropped by the broadcast booth late in Wednesday night’s game and was warmly welcomed by announcers Matt Vasgersian and Mark “Mud” Grant, a former big league pitcher.
The trio first talked about golf and actor Bill Murray, who was with Sutcliffe at the game. The conversation turned to Sutcliffe’s daughter, who, the pitcher said, has been accepted to Harvard Medical School.
That’s when Sutcliffe began to meander.
“She’s on her way to Africa tomorrow,” Sutcliffe said. “How about that? Over there on one of those missions, man. George Clooney — you been reading about all that, you been seeing that?”
To which Vasgersian responded with surprise: “George Clooney?”
“Yeah, he’s up there with the Congress, he’s trying to get everybody to go over there and solve that thing.”
Sutcliffe then said: “I’m getting yelled at from Bill Murray in the back. I need to go. I’d much rather hang with you guys.”
Grant thanked Sutcliffe for joining them.
“Mud, you’re the best, man,” Sutcliffe replied. “Anybody on Earth that doesn’t like Mark Grant, they’ve got problems.”
Sutcliffe then asked Vasgersian, “Matty, what are you still doing here in San Diego?”
Vasgersian tried to steer the conversation to baseball, but Sutcliffe persisted.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Sutcliffe’s microphone apparently was cut off then, because a voice in the background can be heard saying: “They turned it off.”
Sutcliffe couldn’t be reached for comment on Thursday, although ESPN read an apology from him on its late-night SportsCenter show.
Nichols said Sutcliffe “used remarkably poor judgment. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for the Channel 4 team, and I’m embarrassed for the viewers. They’re trying to watch the latest win. This is all I’m talking about today. The focus should have been on that win.”
Nichols said the station received dozens of e-mails and phone calls about the interview.
Based on Sutcliffe’s background, “under any other circumstance, I think any other broadcast booth in the world would have invited him in,” Nichols said. “He started talking about things that weren’t of interest. It wasn’t what we wanted on the air.”
After Wednesday night’s game, Sutcliffe and Murray visited the Padres’ clubhouse.
When Sutcliffe introduced Murray to infielder Mark Bellhorn, who was seated, the actor hugged the infielder tightly and the two tumbled onto the ground.
“You were a Cub!” Murray said.
Sutcliffe won the NL Rookie of the Year in 1979 with the Dodgers and the Cy Young in 1984, the year his Cubs lost to the Padres in the NL championship series.
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