DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
by Quinn Sweetzir
As many of you know, I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Gregg Zaun. Whether its his suits, his irrational opinions, or his often unjustified rants, Zaun's reputation is not exactly that of a well respected analyst. Instead, Zaun is most well known for his controversial opinions which have become an expected feature of his time with Sportsnet.
After Sunday's victory over the Los Angeles Angels, Stroman and Blue Jays fans became enraged with Gregg Zaun, after he criticized Stroman for over celebrating and disrespecting the game. To show you what I mean, here's what some Jays fans thought of Zaun's comments about Stroman.
As you can see, Jays fans aren't exactly the biggest fans of Gregg Zaun's comments on Stroman, but this is far from the first time has created controversy with hid comments. In fact, Zaun has become infamous for his comments on several topics including his views on rookie hazing, questionable opinions, and misogynistic comments and tweets hes made ever since he became an analyst. Just consider this advertisement for his charity golf tournament.
I don't care what cause you're supporting (and I am a big of Right to Play myself), but using woman in a provocative way in attempt to attract old men to a golf tournament is simply sexist, unethical, and infinitely more disrespectful than anything Stroman did by celebrating yesterday. The unfortunate thing is this is far from the only association with misogyny Zaun has. Just consider this tweet from Zaun himself.
The rich girls from TO must be home from college. Tubby, unfortunately manish, and super stuck up are all at Hemingways tonight
— Gregg Zaun (@greggzaun) December 19, 2012
Luckily, Zaun later deleted the tweet (which is why I couldn't embed it) but this does not justify the fact that Zaun described woman as "tubby" and "super stuck up". And if this isn't enough just watch this video, and listen very carefully to the way Zaun and his Blue Jays Central partner Jamie Campbell act.
This is the among most cringiest, strangest, youtube video's out there, and yet I don't entirely blame Zaun for this video, as Sportsnet deserves some credit for having this, whatever you call it, take place on live television.
In addition to these sexist moments, Zaun has also been renouned for his impressive knowledge of baseball analytics, such as this formula he created for "run prediction".
This led to the creation of ZARP on the score in which Sam Thompson was the all time leader. Although these analytics are useless and ineffective for evaluating play, Zaun has admitted he is a traditionalist, and analytics are not his specially. So, lets move on to his views on rookie hazing. Here's a quote from an interview Zaun did on Prime Time Sports.
Oh my goodness, I can tell you a prime example of what happened to me, myself. I grew up around the game — my uncle Rick played 24 years in the big leagues. He was a Baltimore Oriole; I grew up with the Orioles. Cal Ripken Jr.’s first roommate in the big leagues was my uncle — I used to go to lunch with the guy. Every time they came to Anaheim, I’d be in the car with Cal Jr. He gave me a glove. So when it came time to become a Baltimore Oriole, I went to the instructional league with Brady Anderson and Ben McDonald and Chris Hoiles — I was exposed to all these veteran guys who were veterans, but I was exposed to them when they were on their way to the big leagues. So when I got to the show I took liberties with these guys. And you know what? As much as they liked me, as much as they wanted me to be successful, they nipped it right in the bud, and they clipped my wings from day one.
I’ll never forget it: I was out in the stretch circle, I played catch with Chris Hoiles every single day, and I lobbed the ball to him — and he was paying attention, but he pretended like he wasn’t. He head-butted the ball and all of a sudden I had what was called “the posse” all over me. Cal Ripken, Ben McDonald, Brady Anderson, Chris Hoiles, all of the above. They beat me on my ribcage, physically abused me on my way to the training table. They taped me spread-eagle to the training table, they wrote “rookie” on my forehead with pink methylate, and they shoved a bucket of ice down my shorts. I missed the entire batting practice, and you know what? Phil Regan, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles, he did not care, because he knew that what those guys were doing was ‘educating me.’
I had taken liberties with some of the veteran players. I had become a little bit too mouthy. And, I’m sure this comes as a shock to you guys — I was a little bit chatty; a little bit talkative as a young player, yeah. But I learned how to stifle myself. I learned how to show these veteran players respect and give them their room, and all the while close my mouth and be the guy who listened.
So basically, Zaun is saying that he was assaulted by his teammates and that its okay because he was learning a lesson. It doesn't matter what you had done, rookie hazing and assault is never okay, and Zaun is acting like it is despite having been a victim himself. Now, last I checked, corporal punishment is illegal in most of the modern world, and yet Zaun suggests that it should be acceptable in professional baseball. Later on, Zaun suggested that had Brett Lawrie undergone something similar, he wouldn't have struggled as much as he did after his rookie year. The scary thing, is that the interview continued, and what happened next is even more contradictory.
If I had a dollar for every time Cal worked me over, physically, I’d be a pretty wealthy guy. He still owes me a suit! He told me flat out, he said, ‘You are never to come past this point into the back of the plane, under no circumstances.’ So, I’m in my first suit that I paid for myself as a Major League player, feelin’ real frisky, and Cal says, ‘I need you to come here.’ And all of a sudden I crossed over that imaginary barrier line. He tackled me, wrestled me to the ground. They had just got done eating a bunch of blue crabs in the back of the plane, so there was nothing but mud and Old Bay seasoning everywhere. He throws me to the ground and he tears my suit off of me, and I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he goes, ‘Remember when I said that under no circumstances do you come back here?’ I’m like, ‘Well you just told me to!’ ‘I said under no circumstances, and that includes when I ask you to come back here.’
So, these kind of things don’t happen anymore, but they need to happen more often. And they need to happen with the backing of the management, all the way up to the front office, down to the field manager. You have to allow your veteran players to create the atmosphere that they want in the clubhouse, because at the end of the day, when guys get along and they know their pecking order, and they know the hierarchy, everything seems to work out just fine.
So, not only does Zaun support hazing of rookie's from within the team, but he also believes that the front office should promote it to encourage hierarchy among players and management. This leads to embarrassing moments for the players who are victims of hazing, and who often become traumatized as a result.
You would think experiences like these would lead Zaun to reject hazing, but instead he's claims to support it because it kept him in line. Additionally, Zaun has generally been more critical of younger players because they are undisciplined (see Marcus Stroman) and tends to favor veterans. In general, this team should be to his liking, and yet Zaun continues to be excessively critical of the actions its players.
I wrote this article to attempt to display Greg Zaun's history of controversial comments, tweets, opinions, and much more. It seems as if the players, and the fans hate him which leads me to ask why he's still employed as an analyst. With a history of being a bad analyst, my best guest for why he's still employed is that his stupidity actually gets ratings, similarl to someone like Skip Bayless.
Whether through his sexist views, his lack of acceptance towards the ways of modern baseball, or his support of hazing, Zaun's unwillingness to adjust his views and demonstrate restraint on particular topics is deeply concerning, and if he continues to make comments which are illiberal, and promote his views, than I hope Sportsnet will have no choice but to #FireGreggZaun.