Poor peacekeeping gets managers fined

Cards' La Russa: Lofton should pay it

Selig attends

NLCS notebook

Baseball

October 11, 2002|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

ST. LOUIS - The bench-clearing confrontation that occurred in the fifth inning of Game 1 did not result in any physical hostilities, but it still prompted disciplinary action from the commissioner's office.

Major League Baseball vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson notified San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker and St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa that they have been fined $500 each for their actions and those of their players during the altercation.

"These guys are supposed to be the peacekeepers in these types of situations," Watson said before Game 2, "but they were, in a sense, escalating it."

In addition, because several players who were not on the active playoff roster rushed onto the field to take part in the pushing and shoving, ineligible players from both teams will not be allowed to sit in the dugout for the remainder of the series.

Tempers flared after Cardinals relief pitcher Mike Crudale threw a fastball up and in to Giants leadoff man Kenny Lofton in the fifth inning of the Giants' 9-6 victory. Lofton reacted angrily and Crudale approached home plate, which caused both benches and both bullpens to empty onto the field.

Baker and La Russa ended up in a nose-to-nose discussion about the pitch, which the Giants viewed as retaliation for Lofton's theatrical reaction to the home run he hit in the third inning.

"I think Lofton should pay the fines for both Dusty and myself," La Russa said. " ... He can afford it."

Watson met with both managers to make sure that there would be no spillover into last night's game. He made it clear the same disciplinary standards apply in the postseason as during the regular season, and said he would not hesitate to suspend players who take part in future incidents.

"It [a suspension] could happen a lot more quickly in the playoffs," Watson said. "And, if [baseball commissioner] Bud [Selig] or Bob DuPuy are in town, a hearing could happen pretty quickly."

During the regular season, suspensions sometimes are delayed for weeks until a disciplined player gets to New York or another city where he can appeal Watson's ruling to DuPuy, who is Major League Baseball's chief operating officer - and the last word on standard disciplinary issues. La Russa viewed the incident as a garden variety difference of perspective.

"It's always the same," he said. "The other club sees inside pitches with a purpose and we know they are not, and when they throw the ball inside at us, we think they are doing it on purpose and they know they are not. You just take your own perspective.

"I think you play these [playoff] games and you get a lot more attention. There are a lot more people watching now and everything is magnified. Hopefully, what usually happens when you have a difference of opinion like yesterday, you play the game the next day and turn the page. That's what I think is going to happen the rest of this series."

Selig visits

Selig attended last night's game and applauded the presence of several surprise teams in this year's two Championship Series.

"I feel good about it," Selig said. "There is an attractiveness about these teams. Sure, Minnesota and Anaheim are new, but there is a real attractiveness to it. Our television ratings are very good, running ahead of last year."

Selig also took the opportunity to explain an earlier comment that the success of the AL Central champion Twins' was "an aberration."

"When I said it was an aberration, it wasn't intended to be an insult to the Twins," Selig said. "It was an allusion to all the numbers presented by Paul Volcker and the Blue Ribbon committee. It was an aberration if a small-market team won any games in the playoffs.

"People thought I called the team an aberration. What has happened there this year is very exciting. But we separate teams into quartiles [based on revenues]. Over the last seven years, there have been 224 postseason games and less than 2 percent of them have been won by teams in the third and fourth quartiles."

No word on Expos

Selig would not comment on the fate of the Montreal Expos, who could be relocated to the Washington area or some other locale after the World Series.

"We're going to continue to consider our options on Montreal," Selig said, "but now we want to turn our attention to the playoffs and World Series. After that, we'll get to other matters."

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