RADIO WARS: Odubel Herrera, “Selective Fan Morality,” and the Blatant Rejection of Facts

Odubel photo from USA Today Sports

For many years now, all has been quiet on the RADIO WARS front. The departure of Josh Innes saw rival factions pull their troops back, with hard-fought battles being replaced with RADIO SKIRMISHES. There may not have been boots on the ground, but instead we tracked guerilla movements in the dark, with occasional snipes at ex-producers and betrayal from within.

Are we living in a time of peace? Or is this a cold war? Is there unrest on the horizon, festering?

On this day, we have intra-station conflict at 97.5 the Fanatic:

Yes, this is the response.

Brett Myers was arrested after hitting his wife and pulling her hair in June of 2006. He took a leave of absence, but Kim Myers did not want to press charges, so the story disappeared and Myers went on to pitch for the 2008 World Series team. Back then, social media outrage didn’t take place because these various platforms were nascent or simply did not exist.

Philadelphia sports fans also cheered for a Super Bowl-winning Eagles team that started a linebacker who punched an elderly cabana boy in the face, breaking his nose. Nigel Bradham was charged with second degree battery and served a one-game suspension for that. Michael Vick murdered dogs and a very large portion of Eagles fans found it in their hearts to forgive the guy, after he served his punishment and showed he was a different person.

There are myriad instances of off-field transgressions from Philadelphia athletes, and Kincade is right when he talks about “selective fan morality,” because if we’re going to set standards, we need to stay consistent, lest we become hypocrites.

But the more interesting consideration is this John Kincade/Mike Missanelli thing.

There has been some slight passive-aggressive stuff going on between these shows for a few months now. Each person has mentioned the other on their own program. It’s subtle, but if you listen very closely, you can sense the existence of disapproval. It is thus far subterranean, but threatens to poke through the Earth’s crust at any moment.

Mike, we know, exists on the far left of the political spectrum. John is somewhere further to the right. How far? Not sure. But it’s hard to go further left than Missanelli, so Kincade could be center or center right, for all we know. He could even be a moderate Democrat, considering the fact that Mike exists somewhere in another solar system if you go left of any other starting position on this linear scale.

Kincade’s opinion on this matter is the polar opposite of what’s being preached to us on Mike’s show, from him, Tyrone, and Natalie. John’s stance is that Herrera has served his punishment and that Philly sports fans are exhibiting an uneven application of moral displays. As we wrote in a recent story, a lot of what you hear from 2 to 6 p.m. RE:  Odubel has been completely unlistenable, because it’s three people taking the same hardline, zero tolerance stance, a stance which completely disregards any kind of nuance or openness to differing opinions. It’s one thing to say “I can’t forgive Herrera because of what he did,” which is a completely justified opinion on the matter. But this trio has gone so far as to completely shit all over any other view that does not match theirs, while blatantly disregarding the facts of the story.

Case in point, here’s Mike disputing the “punishment” thing with Tyrone:

Huh? He “didn’t lose anything?” 85 games is “not anything?” He “wasn’t punished at all?” Am I living in bizarro world here?

First of all, nobody “ignored the act.” Herrera was punished by Major League Baseball after the charges in this case were dropped. So he didn’t escape anything. MLB underwent an independent investigation, following CBA guidelines, and issued the punishment DESPITE the fact that legal proceedings were discontinued.

Here is the original report from MLB.com:

“My office has completed its investigation into the allegations that Odúbel Herrera violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Herrera violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will cover the remainder of the 2019 season.”

The Phillies outfielder had been on administrative leave since May 28, the day after he was arrested on a charge of simple assault. Herrera’s unpaid suspension will be retroactive to June 24, resulting in an 85-game ban. The discipline also specifies that should the Phillies qualify for the postseason, Herrera will not be eligible to participate.

Herrera, at that point in time, accepted the suspension and apologized. He also apologized to his teammates and to Phillies fans. As part of the policy violation, he participated in a mandatory evaluation and treatment program supervised by the Joint Policy Board.

Odubel also:

So when you say he hasn’t “lost anything,” that is flat out wrong. He lost money at the tail end of the 2019 season and then gave more of it away. He was suspended by Major League Baseball and lost a year and a half of his career. He had to start over and work his way back into the Phillies’ 40-man roster. He was embarrassed and shamed publicly and had to apologize.

Whether or not that is enough, I don’t know. That’s up to each individual Phillies fan to decide. But when the incident never makes it to court, people have to understand that MLB and the Phils, working within the confines of the collective bargaining agreement, are limited in the punishment they can hand out after the fact. That was all explained in a wonderful article by Meghan Montemurro at The Athletic, in which she goes over the restrictions placed on the Phillies via the CBA.

At another point in the show, Tyrone went in on “idiot” writers who would dare to forgive Herrera:

Herein lies the problem with Tyrone’s stance, which has been echoed by Natalie, who was not in on Monday:

This take becomes intellectually dishonest when you totally dismiss the fact that Herrera’s girlfriend forgave him, instead writing it off as “victims staying with their abusers.” This is very unfair and insulting to this woman, whose name is Melany Martinez-Angulo. Funny how nobody ever seems to write out her name or make her the focus of the story, since her opinion carries the most weight.

The bottom line is that Martinez-Angulo dropped the charges and decided to remain with Herrera and attempt to repair their relationship. When people downplay this in order to maintain a macro-level stance and virtuous facade, it really is disingenuous. You are suggesting that she didn’t make her own decision and instead taking the findings of previous DV situations and applying them to her specific situation. It makes the stance flimsy and goes against the contemporary advancement of believing women and supporting the independent choices they make. And to suggest that she didn’t have a choice at all or was coerced or brainwashed is totally unprovable and devoid of empirical evidence at this moment in time. We don’t have to agree with her decision, but we should respect it, because it’s her choice and nobody else’s. Same thing with Kim Myers.

Another thing that gets lost in the shuffle is that people think those of us who believe Odubel deserves a second chance are somehow “okay” with domestic violence, which is absolutely ridiculous. Nobody is “okay” with domestic violence, but within the framework of this story, there are tons of people who:

  1. accepted her choice
  2. believed that he was truly sorry
  3. took his apology at face value
  4. agreed that he needed to win back his job and prove that he was a different person

Bullet point number four is still in progress, and over time maybe people will come to accept Herrera as a changed man. Martinez-Angulo seems to believe that this is possible. And if she’s okay with it, then shouldn’t we respectfully defer? That’s how a large portion of people see it.

At the end of the day, if you don’t believe that Herrera deserves a second chance, you’re perfectly entitled to feel that way. This is allowable even if you’re a veteran radio host who has been given a second, third, and fourth chance after committing and apologizing for various transgressions over the years, like using homophobic slurs in emails and making sexist comments regarding Beth Mowins.

Rhetorically, we can ask if a cat with nine lives is qualified to now be the moral authority in Philadelphia sports. That’s a separate story for another time.

Right now, this leaves us with a run of the mill difference of opinion, unless you do P.M. drive on the Fanatic and figuratively stick your fingers in your ears like little school children. It’s totally irresponsible to shit all over Phillies fans who see the Odubel situation from another perspective, people who believe that others can learn from their mistakes and make up for past misdeeds. Drawing an impassable line in the sand seems great in theory, and plays well in the Twitter echo chamber, but that’s not how things work in the real world. Every situation needs to be approached with appropriate nuance, an adherence to facts, and the consideration that perhaps, just maybe, conflicting viewpoints are reasonable.

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