Cheap Seats

Marine's offer to assist Cards by shooting Halladay causes stir

The Cardinals game Tuesday night against the Phillies made national news -- for all the wrong reasons.

Not only were the Birds humilated by their bullpens' nine run top of the eighth. But now sports pages across the country are filled with news about an unfortunate exchange between St. Louis broadcaster Dan McLaughlin and a Marine from St. Louis who was had a once in a lifetime opportunity to be interviewed in the broadcast booth.

During a little bit of banter about how tough Philadelphia starter Roy Halladay was on the Cardinals, the Marine in question, Lt. Col. Shane Tomko offered to solve the problem by blowing the Cy Young Award winning hurler off the face of the earth.

"I'll tell you what, with that M1A1 Abrams (tank) we got across the street, if Halladay keeps on pitching well, we can fix that with one round pretty quickly," Tomko offered to a stunned McLaughlin.

"I'm sure you could," McLaughlin replied. "I don't know if we should say that, but you just did."

The Lt. Col. retorted "I can say whatever I want because I am a war fighter. And this is the Cardinals Nation the last time I checked."


The Lt. Col. -- and a whole heap of his fellow Marines along with their aircraft, tanks, boats and other high tech toys -- are in St. Louis for Marine Week. It's supposed to be a public relations/recruiting tour. But what started off as a tongue in cheek crack quickly got creepy and caused Fox Sports to issue an apology.

It's a shame that Tomko, who is trained as a Marine combat battalion commander and not a public relations person, got caught up in this bad situation. it's his job to risk his life and the lives of the people he commands to protect this country. He did so, according to, by leading his battle group in the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. it's not his job to know how to say all the right things during a radio interview.

Who would have thought the latter mission would be so dangerous?

The guy is reportedly a life long Cardinals fan who was trying to have a little fun at the ol' ballgame. I was listening to the interview live and it didn't offend or upset me in any way. And I never thought for a second that he intended to threaten the life of an opposing player. But being in the media business for two decades, it certainly made me say "uh oh" a couple of times during the course of the conversation.

It's fun water cooler talk. But I feel bad about the comments being raked over the coals because Tomko is a dyed in the wool Cardinals fan and now he's potentially had his relationship with his team stained by a silly remark. Let it go, people.