Rob Dibble's Comments Embarrass MASN, Nationals

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, August 14, 2010 | , , | 24 comments »

I've debated about writing on this topic for several reasons.  I didn't hear the original comments live, as I was doped up in a hospital bed with food poisoning this week and I'm just now catching up with what happened in the world while I was out.

This space usually concentrates on the on-field matters concerning the Washington Nationals, and I would really prefer to keep it that way.  We have a space for off-the-field content, but I don't think that is the proper forum for this discussion either. 

That space, by the way, is operated solely by my wife.  Who I started dating because I invited her to a baseball game because I knew how much of fan she was (is).

But the description of this blog in the masthead is "Dedicated to the constructive criticism of the Washington Nationals".  I believe some constructive criticism is in order.

By now, I'm sure you've heard or read what Rob Dibble, color commenter for MASN on Nationals games, said during Wednesday's broadcast, but I'll repeat it here.  His first comments came in the sixth inning, talking not about the game, but two women sitting in the front row of the $350 per seat President's club right behind home plate:
"Those ladies right behind there, they haven’t stopped talking the whole game.  They have some conversation going on. Right here [circling offenders with telestrator].  There must be a sale tomorrow going on here or something….Their husbands are going 'Man, don’t bring your wife next time.'”
In the eighth, Dibble revisited the subject:
"All right Bob, now they’re back there, they’re eating ice cream and talking at the same time." 
Veteran play-by-play man Bob Carpenter tried to give Dibble an out, but he wouldn't take it:
“I just got an e-mail that said there’s a lot of women who come to the games — while their husbands are the ones at home — because they love this game.  Tread carefully, Mr. Dibble."
Dibble replied:
“My wife loves to come to the game, but they’re right there, still talking.”
Later in the inning: 
"I was just thinking, those women, there's a new series Real Housewives of D.C. that just came out. Maybe they're filming an episode?"
Dibble's comments speak for themselves.  They are obviously sexist, demeaning and obnoxious.  But they aren't surprising. 

Since finishing his playing career, he's made a living saying outrageous things and getting paid for it.  He started on Fox's "The Best Damn Sports Show" then took his act to XM radio before landing the color gig at MASN, a job he's qualified for only because he once played Major League Baseball.

He usually keeps his ridiculous comments to baseball -- or bloggers -- but this time he's really stepped over the line.

All over the internet, Dibble is getting raked over the coals, and deservedly so.  Is what he said the worst thing that's ever been said about women on TV?  Surely not.  Probably doesn't even make the Top 100.  But does that make it any less insensitive, inappropriate or juvenile.  No.  It does not.

What's worse?  We're two games out now, and there's been no apology of any kind -- even a token -- by Dibble, MASN, or the organization.

I wouldn't be surprised if MASN has asked him to apologize -- since he's potentially offended a significant part of the viewing fan base -- and he declined.  MASN has long recognized the importance of embracing female viewers, blogs and social media, and they take new media seriously. 

However, the network has stayed quiet on this, shockingly. It's not like we should expect Dibble to apologize on his own accord.

So if Dibble isn't going to acknowledge his insensitive comments, either MASN or the Nationals need to do something.  Because silence condones his actions.

At this point, there have been scores of blogs that have written commentary on Dibble's screed.  Not just Nats blogs either.  But Orioles blogs.  And Mets blogs.  And Yankees blogs.  And Cubs blogs.  And many, many others.  All written by knowledgeable, educated baseball fans -- that happen to be women.

Just scroll through some of the comments on those links to see how his words have been received.

There are movements of protest, petition and boycott.  If there's one thing the Lerners know, it's money.  And if Dibble's words even threaten to keep fans away from the team and the broadcast, they will have to act.  It's too late to act quickly though, and that speaks to the situation in a bigger picture.

The organization likes Dibble.  They like the idea that people tune in to hear the outrageous things he says.  They like that he brings the voice of "the fan" into the broadcast booth, with his above-homeristic "we" and "us" descriptions of the team (despite the only affiliation he has ever had with the franchise is his paycheck) and his guttural open cheering for the team.

I'm on the record for not being a fan of his particular commenting style, but if you appreciate his "bonehead ex-jock" schtick, you apparently aren't alone.

They like him so much, the team now asks him to emcee public events, duties that once fell to the classy radio play-by-play voice of Charlie Slowes.  The team likes him so much that they probably won't ask him to apologize.

That's wrong, and it's a shame.  Because this team does a lot to cultivate female fans.  Every year they put on Baseball 101, a clinic for all experience levels of female baseball fans -- which Dibble participated in this season. 

They have women in places of high responsibility within the organization.  Half of the Principal Owners are women.  Marla Lerner Tanenbaum runs the Nats' charitable extension.  Wonder what they thought of Dibble's comments? 

And there are literally dozens of women that write about, photograph, comment and blog about the Nationals, all of them linked in the blogroll to the right of this column.  Including MASN's own Debbi Taylor and MASNSports.com's Kristen Hudak and Jen Royle.  Wonder what they thought of Dibble's comments?

Every TV station in town has at least one female sports reporter. Every cable outlet does too.
MLB estimates that 45% of the general baseball fan base is women.

This organization can't afford to alienate any segment of their possible fan base.  But Dibble's comments gave a significant portion of the fan base a reason to ignore the Nationals.  And MASN.

24 comments

  1. Souldrummer // August 14, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

    Solid post. It's probably not fair for me to comment on this stuff because I didn't hear the comments live and I'm a radio listener because I find Federal Baseball plus Charlie and Dave to be more satisfying than Bob and Rob with me by my lonesome. Dibble's not ideal for the club. Somebody should apologize. We've worked hard since Smiley Gonzalez to do a lot of things that make us look good as a franchise. Dibble's comments certainly make us look weak.

  2. Anonymous // August 14, 2010 at 3:52 PM  

    I listened to that whole back and forth and it was harmless. It had nothing to do with sexism but it had everything to do with two people laughing and talking during the game which is what fans should do. In no way was Dibble demeaning them.

    It seems that every blogger needs to jump on the politically correct bandwagon after non-issues like this. How about just paying attention to the game in the future?

  3. Dave Nichols // August 14, 2010 at 4:35 PM  

    @Anon, of course you are entitled to your opinion as i am entitled to mine.

    @soul, thanks for your comments. always enjoy your feedback.

  4. Anonymous // August 14, 2010 at 4:39 PM  

    There's a word for guys like you and Dan Steinberg who write stuff like this because of what their wives might think about them if they didn't. Or maybe it's two words. Depends on whether or not you think pussy-whipped should be hyphenated.

  5. Dave Nichols // August 14, 2010 at 4:44 PM  

    @2nd Anon: again, everyone's entitled to their opinions. the difference between mine and yours is that I put my name and face on mine, while you hide behind the cowardice of anonymity.

    the opinion expressed in this piece was mine alone. if you want my wife's opinion, feel free to follow her on twitter or facebook.

  6. Anonymous // August 14, 2010 at 4:47 PM  

    We await a similar level of outrage from you if the upcoming Nats Ladies Night includes anything not related to baseball. Indeed, shouldn't those gals be taking infield up in the red tent instead of making goo-goo eyes at the players and coaches who are there?

  7. nats205 // August 14, 2010 at 4:51 PM  

    I'm a woman with half-season tickets. I generally think that Dibble has nothing of value to say. But...his comments about the women in the $350 seats is perfect. I watch on TV when I'm not at the game and I wonder why those folks -- of both sexes -- ar even there.

  8. Dave Nichols // August 14, 2010 at 4:52 PM  

    Anon, you're so far off the point now it's past debate.

  9. Anonymous // August 14, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

    Actually, it would have been funnier if the Miller High Life delivery guy from the commercials (who was there that night for their veterans promotion) stepped into the frame while Dibble was talking about them to deny those broads a piece of the High Life.

  10. Dave Nichols // August 14, 2010 at 4:57 PM  

    @nats205, thanks for the comment and your opinion.

    the point is, and i'm sure i don't hvae to tell you this, but Dibble didn't make a point of all the patrons in the President's Club talking and not paying attention, he was referring specifically to the two women and making generalizations.

    if he had made a comment about all the patrons, it would not have been a big deal. but he made specific denigrating comments about a segment of the fan base, and it was inappropriate, in my opinion.

  11. Andrew // August 14, 2010 at 5:59 PM  

    Dave - Glad you are feeling better and tackling a tough subject. Very sensitive issue.

    So long as you aren't bothering people around you, so be it.

    The ballpark is a place to have fun and some people have their own definition of fun.

    I like an all inclusive ballpark so long as it is Nationals fans. I was ok with the casual bandwagoneers coming to cheer Strasburg on June 8th. I have to say, I wish everyday in Nats Park could be like it was on June 8th. 40,000 people all cheering together with energy and enthusiasm, and I keep hoping!

  12. MikeHarris // August 14, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

    I got your back homes! (cheap plug for my blog, I hit on it, too, at www.natslooser.blogspot.com)

    They give you feisty pills in the hospital? Welcome back.

  13. David // August 14, 2010 at 6:39 PM  

    I don't understand the outrage either. Sorry, those two women were chatting through the entire game non-stop! Which is funny on TV but not if you're next to them in the stands. They obviously weren't paying attention one bit to the game. So Dibble was poking fun at them for sitting in $350 seats but not even watching. Sure there's lots of women baseball fans, but those two women are not them. He wasn't making a generalization about EVERY women baseball fans, just those two.

  14. Carolyn // August 14, 2010 at 9:20 PM  

    Dave,

    I was not offended by Dibble, and I hate to admit, but am sometimes entertained by him. I have to say, you just wrote something that is my own point exactly:

    "...but Dibble didn't make a point of all the patrons in the President's Club talking and not paying attention, he was referring specifically to the two women and making generalizations..."

    He was referring specifically to the two women. The two women. He did not say "all wowen" in general. And whether you are offended (the general "you" not you you) or not, I wish some bloggers would stop saying, "Women are outraged..." because it is not all women who are outraged or offended. Many, possibly, but not all. Some of us think it was really no big deal. And I wish more of that fact were coming across in these blogs. But you are absolutely entitled to your opinion.

  15. Dave Nichols // August 15, 2010 at 1:57 AM  

    thanks all for your comments. this whole episode has been very interesting with the reaction to Mr. Dibble's comments.

    there's a big section of folks that are really ticked off, and another section that thinks "eh".

    i'll just restate my basic premise that i believe his comments were inappropriate from a broadcasting point of view.

    imagine if Tom Brokaw or Charles Gibson had made those comments? would you still feel "eh"?

  16. Lisa // August 15, 2010 at 7:29 AM  

    Dave,

    I wrote one of the pieces you linked to (the one about Dibble spewing offensive drivel). Thanks for the linkage.

    What I think the people who are saying that what Dibble said is no big deal are missing is that he, not us, brought the gender issue into it. He wasn't just mocking two female fans; he was mocking two female fans for either talking about shopping during the game, or being part of the cast of The Real Housewives of DC.

    Those readers should imagine if Dibble made fun of members of a specific racial group, and then if he suggested that they were talking about some stereotypical behavior.

    As for the people who say that bloggers should just pay attention to the game and not the broadcaster, if Dibble had done that, he wouldn't have been in hot water in the first place!

  17. Dave Nichols // August 15, 2010 at 10:18 AM  

    Lisa, thanks for your comment--and your original post. Some people have said too much has been made of this, but i still think not enough has.

    I totally agree with both the points you bring up here as well.

    He said something inappropriate on live tv. He's not the first to do it. He, or someone, needs to apologize.

  18. natsfan1a // August 15, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

    Disclaimer: I did not see/hear Dibble's remarks in context, not having seen that particular game. I do, however, watch most games on tv (if I'm not there in person).

    That said, like 205 and Carolyn, I'm a female fan who was not offended by Dibble's remarks. Heck, MLB and the Nats indulge in gender stereotyping all the time, what with Baseball 101 for Women, Ladies Nights with accompanying beauty treatments, and special pink gear for female fans. I would guess that some of our coaches and players might also indulge in gender stereotyping on occasion.

    I've gotten my back up about baseball and women in the past (examples: the Phillies downplaying of Brett Myers' public domestic violence incident, or the Nats acquisition of players with their own domestic violence issues). I just can't get exercised about this particular incident. If someone else wants to take offense, that's their business, but I won't be picking up my own virtual pitchfork and torch.

  19. Anonymous // August 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

    So let me get this straight. You're upset that a broadcaster credentialed by the team made some possibly stereotypical comments about two fans that some might find derogatory. You feel that the team should order him to apologize, because even though he doesn't work for the team he is credentialed by the team. (And you and others repeatedly chide him for using "we" when talking about the team, which would definitely imply that you don't think he works for the team, right? Because if he did, then he should be saying "we", right?) You assert that people who are in this position should not be allowed to do this, and if they do they should be chastised by the team and forced to apologize.

    If that's the case, then when shall we expect the apology from you, a blogger credentialed by the team, for making disparaging comments about fans on your Twitter feed?

    http://twitter.com/NatsNewsNetwork

    ouch. RT @katekirk: Hmmm. Backs to field, non-stop yakking. Must be a sale on beer nuts tomorrow. #nats http://twitpic.com/2epmjk
    about 22 hours ago via TweetDeck

    Maybe we should just headline this comment Nationals News Network's Comment Embarrasses Online Journalism, Nationals and call it a day, y'think? You're such a hypocrite.

  20. Dave Nichols // August 15, 2010 at 11:51 AM  

    for all interested, Dibble addressed his comments on a blog post this morning on MASNSports.com.

    http://www.masnsports.com/rob_dibble/2010/08/the-greatness-of-baseball.html

  21. Ann Ominous // August 15, 2010 at 4:01 PM  

    Okay, now we need to see a similar blast of outrage from you over Riggleman's sexist remark. Otherwise you're just admitting that this whole Dibble thing was all about your personal hatred of the messenger and not about the message.

  22. Larry // August 15, 2010 at 8:53 PM  

    My wife and I agree, cut Dibble some slack. We have become a nation of unrealistically super sensitive cry babies. So what what he had some fun with the ladies, BIG DEAL!!

    No vulgarities were used, implied or otherwise alluded to. Simple fun. Maybe the color yellow makes these upset folks sad too. Get some guts Jack Wagons!

  23. Anonymous // August 27, 2010 at 10:35 PM  

    I saw & heard Rob's comments moments after I thought to myself, these women couldn't care less about this game, why in the hell are they taking up two seats?

    I like Dibble. He makes the game interesting and I've learned a lot about the game from watching him on MASN. I guess that makes me, a former Orioles fan, a JOCK HEAD in your opinion.

    It's called FREEDOM of SPEECH and he was exercising that right without being demeaning to the two ladies in question. His job is the "COLOR" announcer not the gagged, dull, PC, mouthpiece.

    GET A LIFE.

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