TBS baseball analyst and former Major League Baseball pitcher Ron Darling received flak on social media following what appeared to be his unintentional use of a racial slur when talking about New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka’s performance.
As recalled by the New York Daily News, Darling’s comment took place during Game 2 of the American League Division Series, as the Yankees were visiting the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. As Tanaka took to the mound in the fourth inning, Darling observed that the Japanese right-hander appeared to be faltering and losing control of his pitches.
“Chink in the armor for Tanaka here. It’s the first inning he has lost a little of his control.”
Despite Tanaka’s shaky form at that point in the game, he ended up picking up the win for the Yankees, who defeated the Red Sox, 6-2.
According to the News, it’s possible that Ron Darling, whose mother is Chinese, did not realize he had used a slur when he was talking about Tanaka’s performance. However, that didn’t stop social media users from taking to Twitter and commenting on what the 58-year-old analyst had just said, despite how “chink in the armor” is not supposed to have any racial connotations.
In a series of tweets shared by the Daily Mail, Twitter users were largely divided in their reaction to Darling’s comments about Tanaka. Some users posited that Darling being part-Chinese would help him survive his perceived faux pas, while others reacted with shock and disbelief that someone would use a racial slur when referring to Tanaka’s struggles on the mound. Another user explained that it wouldn’t make sense to call Darling’s use of “chink in the armor” racist, given the term’s actual meaning and the fact that the analyst was referring to a Japanese pitcher.
“Ron Darling is Chinese and Tanaka is Japanese, so ‘chink in the armor’ means the pitcher lost control. It has nothing to do with race.”
Darling’s mention of the expression “chink in the armor” is not the first time that the phrase has been used to describe a professional athlete of Asian origin. According to the New York Daily News, ESPN headline writer Anthony Federico was fired by the sports network in 2012 when he published an article that used the expression to refer to Taiwanese-American NBA point guard Jeremy Lin’s poor performance in a game. Similarly, ESPN also fired one of its anchors, Max Bretos, after it was found that he had also dropped the phrase on a broadcast shortly after Federico’s headline was published.