DETROIT – Bert Blyleven earns a living offering his opinions on television. But he stirred up trouble on Thursday by offering an opinion over the Internet.
Blyleven angered Detroit fans during Thursday’s rain delay with a pair of tweets that insulted the city. Before the game even started the tweets had gone viral, and by the time the Twins’ 7-1 loss was complete, the governor of Michigan had weighed in, Blyleven’s tweets had been deleted, his employers had criticized him, and the Hall of Fame pitcher had offered an apology over the air.
The mini-controversy, which made headlines in both Detroit newspapers and on sports website Deadspin.com, started when Blyleven, who has done color commentary for Fox Sports North for 20 seasons, tweeted a photo of the tarp on Comerica Field, with the Detroit skyline obscured by clouds in the background. Blyleven’s tweet said “it is the best I have seen downtown Detroit though! Thank you low clouds.”
When other Twitter users attacked him in reply, Blyleven tweeted again, saying, “Guess all you that responded haven’t seen how ugly your downtown is.”
Among the responses was a tweet from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder that included a photo of the Tigers unfurling their division championship banner on Monday. “I think our view of downtown Detroit looks just great, @BertBlyleven28!” the governor’s tweet read.
The governor’s lighthearted tone wasn’t shared by Blyleven’s bosses. Kevin Smith, Twins vice president for broadcasting, issued a statement during the eighth inning saying the team and network were “disappointed” by the tweets and that Blyleven’s “attempt at humor during the rain delay certainly missed the mark.”
Having received the message, Blyleven deleted his tweets and apologized during the broadcast. He also tweeted an apology, mentioning Tigers owner Michael Ilitch.
I apologize for my comments: the city of Detroit. It is an exciting time here led by the Ilitch family.— Bert Blyleven (@BertBlyleven28) April 9, 2015