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Colin Cowherd let go by ESPN over Dominican remarks

Colin Cowherd on the set of

Colin Cowherd on the set of "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" during Super Bowl week in Arizona on Jan. 26, 2015. Credit: ESPN Images/Phil Ellsworth

Colin Cowherd no longer will appear on ESPN, the network announced late Friday afternoon, abruptly severing ties with a staple of its radio lineup.

The move came in the wake of a controversy over remarks he made on his show Thursday that appeared to disparage Dominicans -- remarks that led to sharp criticism from both Major League Baseball and its players union.

"Colin Cowherd's comments over the past two days do not reflect the values of ESPN or our employees," the ESPN statement read. "Colin will no longer appear on ESPN."

Cowherd was in his final days at the network anyway. Sports Business Journal reported his final show was scheduled to be next Friday. He is headed for Fox Sports, which plans to give him a show on its cable television network, Fox Sports 1.

Earlier Friday, MLB had called for an apology, saying in a statement, "Major League Baseball condemns the remarks made by Colin Cowherd, which were inappropriate, offensive and completely inconsistent with the values of our game

"Mr. Cowherd owes our players of Dominican origin, and Dominican people generally, an apology."

Shortly thereafter players' union executive director Tony Clark issued a statement of his own that read:

"As a veteran of fifteen MLB seasons, I can assure you that our sport is infinitely more complex than some in the media would have you believe. To suggest otherwise is ignorant, and to make an ignorant point by denigrating the intelligence of our Dominican members was not 'clunky' -- it was offensive.

"These recent comments are particularly disappointing when viewed against the backdrop of the important work being done to celebrate and improve the cultural diversity of our game. Baseball's partners and stakeholders should help such efforts, not undermine them."

Cowherd had used the word "clunky" on the air Friday in trying to clarify his remarks.

The trouble began Thursday, when he said, "It's baseball. You don't think a general manager can manage? Like it's impossible? The game is too complex? I've never bought into that, 'Baseball's just too complex.' Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic."

He added the country "had not been known, in my lifetime, as having, you know, world-class academic abilities."

The Associated Press reported there were 83 Dominican players on Opening Day rosters, about 10 percent of players in the major leagues.

On Friday, Cowherd said many had unfairly used a truncated version of his comments in criticizing him, and then he played his remarks in full.

ESPN.com posted a transcription of what Cowherd said Friday:

"I could've made the point without using one country, and there's all sorts of smart people from the Dominican Republic. I could've said a third of baseball's talent is being furnished from countries with economic hardships, therefore educational hurdles. For the record, I used the Dominican Republic because they've furnished baseball with so many great players.

"I understand that when you mention a specific country, they get offended. I get it. I do. And for that, I feel bad. I do. But I have four reports in front of me . . . where there are discussions of major deficiencies in the education sector at all levels . . . It wasn't a shot at them. It was data. Five, seven years ago I talked about the same subject. Was I clunky? Perhaps. Did people not like my tone? I get it. Sometimes my tone stinks.

"I think when you host a radio show, just like Jon Stewart hosts a show, I think sometimes I bring up stuff . . . that makes people cringe. I'm not saying there's not intelligent, educated people from the Dominican Republic. I cringe at the data too."

Earlier Friday ESPN issued a statement saying that Cowherd's remarks "do not reflect ESPN's values of respect for all communities. Colin's on-air response [Friday] addressed the importance of making sure his opinions are fact based and responsible for all people."

Cowherd's original remarks Thursday came during a discussion of the practicality of a front-office executive taking over as manager, as the Miami Marlins' Dan Jennings did.

"Baseball is like any sport," he said. "It's mostly instincts. A sportswriter who covers baseball could go up to Tony La Russa and have a real baseball argument, and Tony would listen and it would seem reasonable. There's not a single NFL writer in the country who could diagram a play for Bill Belichick.

"You know, we get caught up in this whole 'thinking-man's game.' Is it in the same family? Most people could do it. It's not being a concert pianist. It's in the same family."

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