Sept. 4, 2006: Blyleven red-faced over blue language

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 19, 2011 - 10:38 AM

Twins television analyst Bert Blyleven has been suspended for two
telecasts for accidentally using obscenity on the air before the
start of the Twins-Yankees game Sunday afternoon in New York.

WFTC (Ch. 29), which showed the game, could face a fine from the
Federal Communications Commission.

Blyleven had thought the pregame portion of the telecast was
being taped when he used the same objectionable word in quick
succession after making a mistake.

"I apologize to anybody I offended," he said. "I thought it was a
rehearsal and didn't realize we were live. I usually don't [swear]
in rehearsal, but I just happened to say that and I'm sorry.

"I'm embarrassed something like that happened. I've been doing
this for 11 years and nothing like this had happened."

Blyleven explained that he and fill-in play-by-play man Anthony
LaPanta had taped the opening segment the previous two days. "We
had just taped the second segment of the show first [on Sunday]
because of the national anthem and the inconsistency of when they
play it in New York," Blyleven said. "I messed up at the beginning
and don't recall exactly how I said it but I know I said the f-word."

After repeating the word, Blyleven was told by the production
team in the truck that the telecast had been live. "I probably
turned 12 shades of red," he said.

At the conclusion of the Twins' 10-1 loss to the Yankees,
Blyleven called Twins President Dave St. Peter and left an apology.
He also left an apology with FSN North executive producer Jeff
Byle. Shortly thereafter Blyleven received a call from St. Peter.
Byle and Mike Dimond, FSN North general manager, were also on the
line. Blyleven is employed by the Twins.

"They're concerned about the FCC," Blyleven said. "I told them,
`I'm really sorry.' "

St. Peter expressed his consternation. "Obviously we're
disappointed," he said. "This is not representative of the Twins,
FSN North or Bert Blyleven. Bert understands the seriousness of
this. Nobody feels worse than Bert."

Blyleven was en route to his home in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday
night and had planned to drive to Tampa for the Twins-Devil Rays
games Tuesday and Wednesday.

Blyleven, who recently agreed to a new contract but hasn't signed
it, already was scheduled to have Thursday and Friday's telecasts
off. That means his earliest return would be for the Twins'
Saturday night game against Detroit. The Twins-Devil Rays game
today is not on the TV schedule.

"They said they would let me know in the next two or three days
once they hear from the FCC on what they want to do," Blyleven
said. "I told them if this is something you feel you have to fire
me over, then you have to do that. Hopefully that's not the case.
I've loved my time doing the broadcasting. I made a mistake and
apologized for it and I'll apologize again."

St. Peter said it was too early to discuss further action.

"We'll take the next couple of days and look into the situation,"
he said. "The only thing now is he is suspended for Tuesday and
Wednesday."

FSN North spokesman Brian Peterson, whose network produces the
Sunday afternoon Twins telecasts that air on WFTC, acknowledged
that Blyleven has been suspended for two games but declined to
comment further.

Both FSN North and WFTC are owned by Fox.

WFTC almost certainly will find itself in hot water with the FCC,
which has the ability to fine a station for airing profanity. The
words Blyleven used are high on the FCC's list of no-nos and the
FCC website clearly states such profanity cannot be broadcast
between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

In this case it happened at about noon.

The site also reads: In 2004 alone, the FCC took action in 12
cases, involving hundreds of thousands of complaints, assessing
penalties and voluntary payments totaling about $8 million. The
commission has also toughened its enforcement penalties by
proposing monetary penalties based on each indecent utterance in a
broadcast, rather than proposing a single monetary penalty for the
entire broadcast.

"If there is a fine to be paid I'd be more than happy to do what
I need to do," Blyleven said. "We'll just have to wait and see. I
told them I'd face the consequences of whatever they decide is best
for the Twins, Ch. 29 and the viewers."

This is not the first on-air misstep for Blyleven this season.
The former Twins pitcher also made what Peterson termed
"inappropriate" comments during a May telecast in Anaheim. In that
case, Blyleven questioned Ace Young of "American Idol" fame about
"AI" judge Paula Abdul.

Peterson said former Twins third baseman Ron Coomer would fill in
for Blyleven during the suspension.

Blyleven's normal broadcast partner, play-by-play man Dick
Bremer, was not working the New York series because his mother died
last week.

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