TBS baseball host attempts to explain racially insensitive 'Oreo' joke

TBS studio Casey Stern is flanked by (left to right) Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Gary Sheffield and Pedro Martinez. (TBS)

TBS studio host Casey Stern is catching heat for a poorly thought out and racially insensitive attempt at humor during the pregame show before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Flanked by former Phillies greats Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins to his right, along with Gary Sheffield and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez to his left, Stern welcomed viewers back to the show by joking “I’ve become the cream in the middle of an Oreo.”

Understandably, this forced a lot people to cringe given the very clear and visible racial overtones with Stern sitting between three African Americans and Martinez, who’s a native of the Dominican Republic.

Shortly after the joke made air, Stern took to Twitter to explain that he meant no ill will. He also states that he’s very close to his colleagues on and off camera, and that sometimes jokes between them awkwardly spill on to the show.

We have no reason to doubt any of what Stern says there, but a simple apology and I’ll do better next time may have served him better.

While it’s understood that live television lends itself to words slipping through that don’t necessarily reflect a person’s feelings or beliefs, there’s no taking those words back either. Once something like that makes air, there’s no explanation that justifies it. But there should at least be a willingness to take ownership of letting an unfortunate joke like this slip through the cracks.

The joke was in poor taste, but it doesn’t mean Stern is a bad person. If you’re not offended, that doesn’t make you a bad person either. But some people were offended, and we should all make a better effort to understand why that is. That’s reason enough not to let racially insensitive jokes in this forum get swept under the rug.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!