Big League Stew

Hawk Harrelson scolded by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf after unprofessional outburst

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

View photo


(Getty Images)

While the rest of us were laughing at Ken "Hawk" Harrelson's childish rant at the umpiring of Mark Wegner on Wednesday, two of baseball's leading men were cringing.

So much so that commissioner Bud Selig and Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf have apparently told the White Sox broadcaster that going after the umpiring in such fashion on the air is not acceptable — no matter what his status as sport's biggest homer might be.

From ESPN Chicago:

"I talked to Bud Selig yesterday," Harrelson told's Bruce Levine on Friday morning. "We had a talk. Actually, Bud talked and I listened. If it was a prize fight, they would have stopped it in the first round.

"I also talked to Jerry, and I listened to him as well. That's all I really have to say."

White Sox spokesperson Brooks Boyer told ESPN Chicago that Harrelson plans to address the much talked-about outburst during Friday night's broadcast in "the way he feels it be best addressed." What that means is anybody's guess, though it's nice to hear that Selig and Reinsdorf's words possibly got through to the old buffoon. (And here I thought that former Boston teammate Carl Yastrzemski owned the only opinion that mattered to Harrelson.)

Boyer says he believes that "moving forward those type of bursts and snaps will be limited if not eliminated." I hope that quote means that Harrelson has been threatened with discipline of some kind. Not because I didn't agree that Wegner's quick hook on rookie pitcher Jose Quintana seemed excessive — it was — but mostly because there are much better ways for a 70-year-old man to express his opinion than to act like a complete embarrassment to the broadcasting profession and toward those of us watching at home.

Here's the outburst, in case you haven't seen it:

You'll notice that my opinion is the polar opposite of my esteemed BLS colleague David Brown, who still writes Hawk's rapidly deteriorating performance off as the folksy homerism that made him famous on the South Side.

But with all due respect to Dave — who I think just likes having colorful characters around the game of baseball — Hawk left that shtick behind long ago. While referring to players by their first names and yelling "can of corn" and "he gone" was cute in an annoying sort of way (the days of listening about players like "The Big Hurt" and "Pope" Donn Pall were admittedly fun), Harrelson has plunged headfirst into a paranoid state of bitterness and bile that's simply unlistenable for anyone who enjoys watching baseball.

Pick a game, any game and every umpire is out to get his beloved Pale Hose, every lead or walk-off win by an opponent is a reason to silently sulk without providing any information to the viewer and every warning track out is a reason to scream "dadgummit!" Maybe the unbalanced diehards in the White Sox fan base really value and appreciate that type of approach. But for the rest of us who own a reasonable perspective on baseball and life? It's downright pathetic to see someone who's old enough to know better acting that way.

Not that I expect that Harrelson will ever really change. Reinsdorf is as loyal an owner as they come and I've always expected that Harrelson will report to the first tee box in the great golf course in the sky before he retires or is fired from the White Sox television booth. He acts the way he does because he knows there's little chance of reprimand, no matter how poorly he reflects on the organization.

Still, I'm willing to bet that Harrelson will be one of the few announcers with more than 25 years of service with one team never to receive the Ford C. Frick broadcasting award in Cooperstown. It's awfully hard to respect a guy who goes about the job the way he does.

Want more baseball fun all season long?
Follow @bigleaguestew@KevinKaduk and the BLS Facebook page!

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Ashwin takes six as England all out for 400

      Ashwin takes six as England all out for 400

      MUMBAI (Reuters) - India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took his 23rd five-wicket haul as England were all out for 400 in their first innings on the second day of the fourth and penultimate test at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. Ashwin finished … More »

      Reuters - 5 minutes ago
    • Australia beefs up integrity unit ahead of first grand slam

      Australia's tennis association has added two full-time investigators to its integrity unit and promised greater prize-money at lower-tier events in a bid to thwart betting-related corruption. Tennis Australia (TA) said on Friday it had implemented … More »

      Reuters - 12 minutes ago
    • Westbrook's OKC teammates flourishing off his triple-doubles

      Russell Westbrook is reaching historic heights on his triple-double binge and his Oklahoma City teammates are flourishing. Russell's performance stands above them all, and no one has benefited more than his suddenly sharp-shooting teammates. … More »

      AP - Sports - 14 minutes ago
    • No. 2 UCLA returns to college basketball's upper echelon

      Led by talented freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf, No. 2 UCLA is back in college basketball's upper echelon for the first time under coach Steve Alford. The Bruins (9-0) are off to their best start since 2006-07 after upsetting then-No. 1 Kentucky … More »

      AP - Sports - 15 minutes ago
    • Rowe, Panthers still hopeful for turnaround this season

      Rowe, Panthers still hopeful for turnaround this season

      The last few days have been filled with awkward moments for Florida Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe. First, there was the unfortunate scene where Gerard Gallant loaded his luggage into a taxi after getting fired as Florida's coach last week. … More »

      AP - Sports - 20 minutes ago