“Gary Thorne once said ‘I hate’ when broadcasters become part of the story. He should have thought about those words before he opened his mouth on Wednesday night,” scolds a bemused Bob Raissman in Friday’s New York Daily News.
Even an opinionated voice like Gary Thorne (above) gave the appearance he knew when to hold back, when to put limits on what a broadcaster says during a baseball telecast. He offered evidence of his apparent awareness back in August 2002, when – on a Ch.11 Mets game – he informed viewers what the final telecast of his career would be like.
“It’s going to be a game where you say all the things you wanted to say all those years,” Thorne said almost five years ago. “All the things that will get you fired. All the things fans are thinking, the players are thinking, but we’re not allowed to say because we’ve got to protect somebody’s behind.”
One did not have to ask Sherwin-Williams to know, even back in 2002, that Thorne had already broadcast many games as if they were his last. Wednesday’s was just another one of them. His “paint” comment was neither opinion nor analysis. Thorne threw the line out there as if it were fact, without going to Schilling – or someone in the Red Sox organization – for a response. This was totally irresponsible.
Yesterday, Thorne did what he should have done Wednesday. He went to Doug Mirabelli, the “source” of his story, and concluded the Red Sox catcher had been just jiving him. “I took it as something serious,” Thorne told The AP, “and it wasn’t.”
Still, you must wonder how Thorne, an attorney who once was an assitant DA, could be duped. Or maybe he’s now buying Mirabelli’s explanation just to get out of this mess. For while delivering his accusation on Wednesday evening, Thorne certainly did not protect Mirabelli’s “behind”.
One TV baseball producer who has worked with Thorne was puzzled over how the play-by-play man handled the situation.
“Why do you think we have production meetings (before every game)? If a broadcaster is going to present a story as big as this, everyone (involved in the production) should be on the same page,” the producer said. “You have to go to the other side and, at the least, you would like to have video of Schilling and the (bloody) sock ready to roll.”
Anyone who followed Thorne’s 12 seasons behind Mets radio and TV microphones should not be stunned by what went down in Baltimore on Wednesday night. His delivery has always been fearless, spontaneous and, sometimes, reckless. These are the qualities that always have made Thorne a compelling listen. They are also the very qualities that have dipped him in controversy.
In September 2002, during a Mets-Phillies telecast, Thorne said there were “some real problems” between then-manager Bobby Valentine and his players. “There are a lot of guys down there (in the dugout) who don’t like him (Valentine). They don’t like playing for him. And if there has ever been a Teflon manager, he’s it. Nothing seems to stick. He’s never responsible for anything.”
Valentine basically called Thorne a liar. “How the heck does he know,” Valentine said at the time. “He’s never in our clubhouse.”