Listen, if you’re from Michigan (or Ohio, like the better half of us), you’re used to sports teams that lose. It’s part of life. I was raised as a Cleveland fan — Browns, Indians, and the Cavs. The cycle of my sports seasons are pretty predictable. The season starts out with the familiar “This is our year!” We might even win a few of our first games, which only helps fan the embers of hope. Then, the inevitable happens and our season turns into a “rebuilding year.” We talk of next year and how it’s gotta get better.
Detroit fans are no different. While they end up having better W/L records than us plebs in the Buckeye state, they also go through the same joy and then acceptance. But just remember where LeBron got his start.
Brad Ausmus is the manager for the Detroit Tigers baseball team. Ausmus is an Ivy-league educated man, considered by many to be one of the smartest men ever involved in the game. It’s also his first year as a manager. This year, the Tigers have lost 20 of 29 games. After a loss on Wednesday, Ausmus was asked by reporters, “How are you when you go home?”
Ausmus immediately replied: “I beat my wife.”
Ausmus waited a few beats while the writers in the room chuckled at the remark, and he followed up by saying “I’m just kidding. Luckily my wife and kids are fantastic because I do get a little mopey at home.”
About a minute later, Ausmus realized what exactly he said and elaborated on his apology: “I didn’t want to make light of battered women. I didn’t mean to make light of that, so I apologize for that if I offended anyone.”
I first heard about this on Jay Mohr Sports, my go-to for sports shows. If you’re a casual fan or not a sports fan at all because of reasons like “I don’t understand it,” I highly recommend giving it a shot. Mohr makes his living not because he’s able to dryly recite stats, but because the man simply loves sports. It’s his passion. I could go on about his show and how it’s not a sports show format, but I won’t.
Because the issue is Brad Ausmus and why people think it’s okay to make jokes about “beating your wife” without having any sort of repercussions.
The major outlets, ESPN, NBC, CBS, Yahoo! Sports (apparently a huge percentage of Americans get their sports news from Y!Sports), all summarized the story in the same manner. Ausmus made the joke, and then he apologized. Then, to make sure that everyone knew he was joking, he made ANOTHER apology, without being prompted by a PR person. Callers to Mohr’s show called him out for being a hypocrite: “You made your living as a wise guy; Ausmus is just trying to be one too, where do you get off?” Other callers made light of the issue, asking Mohr why he was trying to make a big deal out of nothing. His Twitter feed about this is also a mixed bag. We should give him a break, a lot of people are arguing. And the woman in me who simply loves the game is inclined to agree. But the woman in me who is raising a boy and a girl to know that those comments aren’t okay?
Yes, there was an apology, and yes, it seemed genuine. However, I am firmly on Team #caveman. In this day and age there’s simply no reason to make a joke about spousal abuse no matter the circumstances. Bringing it back to the callers on Mohr’s show that intimated that Ausmus was doing the same thing as Mohr had done throughout the ages reads like a straw man argument. In my research of Mohr, I was hard-pressed to find where he had made comments about spousal abuse. Yes, the man works blue, and I cannot account for every word he said throughout his career. However, I CAN say that if he had been making comments like that, it’s been quite some time since his jokes centered around abuse of any sort.
Furthermore, comedians constantly fight for their rights to say whatever they want when they are trying to make commentary on our culture. Overwhelmingly they cite freedom of speech as the foundation of their commentary. Here’s the thing — freedom of speech dictates that we can express beliefs, opinions and ideas without legal consequences — but it doesn’t mean we don’t face other penalties in the social and political realms. Daniel Tosh had his issue with rape jokes; Sarah Silverman had issues with racial slurs.
The issue here is not of freedom of speech, or that a comedian was trying to shed light on a joke. It’s that there’s a man who still thinks that way. That he not only thinks that way, he says those things out loud and people LAUGH. The fact that he gave a non-apology afterwards — “If you’re offended, I’m sorry” — doesn’t make it any better. It simply negates the fact that I’m allowed to find offense in his words. That if I DO find it offensive, then I’m the issue, no one else.
I never realized the weight that my words had on others until I started spending time with kids. And then I realized they parrot whatever they hear. Especially if they hear people laugh. Sassypants has a burning desire for the spotlight wherever she goes, so she listens to what her Dad and I listen to and remembers the jokes that made us crack a smile. A few days later, we might hear her crack a joke that Mo Rocca made on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me regarding the economy. Or we’ll hear her repeat a joke that she overheard on Brooklyn Nine-Nine — something watched while we thought she was in her room asleep.
And then we have to discuss appropriate things.
Now, before you go Louis CK on me, we KNOW It’s our responsibility to teach our kids what is right and what isn’t right. I’m not one who thinks that it’s okay for our eight-year-old to watch Family Guy simply because it’s animated. I AM someone who thinks that it’s okay for a six year old boy to watch baseball with his Dad while bonding. And I think that it’s perfectly acceptable for an eight-year-old to watch that same press conference. What isn’t acceptable is that I am not ready for the conversations that this prompts.
“Ha ha! Beats his wife!”
“No, no, Sassypants, you can’t say that. It isn’t funny.”
“Why not? Those people on TV laughed.”
“Well, sometimes people think things are funny when they aren’t.”
“But I don’t get it. They LAUGHED. That means it’s FUNNY. Why can’t I tell that joke?”
“Well, it’s like when you punch Wiggles or Wiggles punches you. It’s not funny.”
“But he’s not talking about that. He’s talking about his wife and he made a joke. It’s a joke. People LAUGHED.”
And there goes another piece of innocence. I’d rather not tell my eight-year-old and six-year-old about domestic violence. I’d rather not tell them that there’s a reality out there that they simply cannot comprehend, where adults are mean to other people for the express purpose of being mean. I’d love to shield them a little bit longer from the fact that there are men out there who think that it’s okay to beat or degrade women.
But the Viking and I have committed to honesty when it comes to the kids because we try to control the message as much as we can. And if we don’t, she’ll sneak into the computer room, and type in “beat your wife” in the search engine, and even though safesearch is on, and we have all sorts of controls, she’ll come across this article, where there is a discussion about the biblical validity of spousal abuse.
She’s not going to find the joke there. Neither should Brad Ausmus.