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MLB suspends Roger McDowell two weeks for slurs, threats

May 1, 2011, 1:13 PM EDT

mcdowell head Getty Images

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Major League Baseball has suspended Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell for two weeks without pay following his actions toward a group of fans last weekend in San Francisco.

He has also been fined an undisclosed — but probably quite hefty — sum of money.

According to reports, McDowell made homophobic slurs, crude gestures and even threatened to knock out a fan’s teeth with a baseball bat. No matter what sparked those reactions, the longtime player and coach was completely in the wrong and is now facing one of the biggest punishments baseball has levied on a coach in a long while.

Dave Wallace has been filling in at McDowell’s post for the Braves on an interim basis. The two-week suspension is retroactive to April 29, when the Braves initially put McDowell on administrative leave.

McDowell will also be required by Major League Baseball to take part in a sensitivity training program.

  1. tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Sounds about right to me.

  2. paperlions - May 1, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    To those that think this punishment is too harsh. If you did what McDowell did to a customer of the business (and in front of that customer’s family), would you still have job?

    • The Baseball Idiot - May 1, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      Yes, because a first offense is just that. The first one. And isn’t everyone supposed to get a second chance? I thought our society actually championed that idea.

      • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        Maybe you can point me to a time when baseball said–about anything–“Normally we’d suspend/fine you for this, but it’s your first chance and we want to be fair.” Maybe Ozzie Guillen should have demanded that after his recent suspension.

      • paperlions - May 1, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        There are some mistakes that show such a lack of judgment (especially for a 50 yr old in middle management), such as this one, that most employers will just show you the door….if for no other reason(s) than to make the customer that was offended satisfied and to serve as an example to employees. It isn’t like McDowell hasn’t had sensitivity training before, like most entities in the public eye these days, such training is common and usually repeated annually.

      • fquaye149 - May 1, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        @TBI:

        Yeah, no. First offenses and second chances are a big part of life, professional or otherwise. But in any career, whether it be law, human resources, engineering, or retail, I’m pretty sure if you insultingly called a colleague or customer a racially or similarly offensive term and then made obscene sexual gestures at them and their family, then ridiculed them for having their child in their proximity, first offense or not you’d probably be hitting the dole line.

      • northvirgina - May 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        No you don not.

        So… if we take your scenario and apply it to …let’s say…. Best Buy. You go into the store and then one of the employees threatens to get a bat and bash your teeth in for not buying a flat screen tv…. what would you think Best Buy should do? Counsel them? No chance – you would want them fired! What do you think that all the other customers in the store would do – they would leave without buying.

        No – this bigot should be fired! Best Buy would fire him to set the example with other employees that this behavior is not tolerated.

        No – you are wrong

      • The Baseball Idiot - May 1, 2011 at 2:58 PM

        Maybe I’ve missed it, because I’ve been working a lot. I know some of what happened with McDowell, but that’s all. I still haven’t heard about what the other party did. If someone has that, please pass me the link.

        I heard McDowell say he ‘reacted’ badly. A reaction is a response to someone else’s action. I still haven’t heard what the fan did to get McDowell so worked up. I’m not excusing McDowell, he was wrong. Reacting badly to something some else has done is a punishable offense, but not necessarily something that brings termination if the other party was the instigator and the original aggressor.

        I was taught many years ago that if there are two people involved in an incident, there are two sides to it. If there are three people involved, there are three sides. If there are four people, four sides, and so on. So far I’ve only heard one side, so someone fill me in other the other side of the issue, because I am interested.

      • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 3:07 PM

        TBI: sorry, I responded to you at the wrong “Reply” button. It’s below.

      • fquaye149 - May 1, 2011 at 9:59 PM

        TBI: the other side of the issue isn’t out yet, but Roger McDowell asked the man if he and his friends were homos and liked to do homo things or something along those lines. He also made an obscene gesture with a baseball bat in front of the man, his wife and his kid. Someone pointed out that he shouldn’t do that in front of the kid he said something along the lines of kids not belonging at the ballpark. Then he asked the guy what he thought his teeth were worth. I know there’s three sides to the story: my side, your side, and the truth, but regardless of how to blame the guy who was the target of McDowell’s rant is (and I would suspect he is probably pretty largely to blame) no company would put up with that sum total of a.) homo”phobia” b.) overt sexual obscenity c.) Insinuating that a core demographic is not wanted d.) mildly threatening violent remark.

        I’m sorry, I just don’t see a situation where Roger’s not getting a pretty good deal by getting a 2 week suspension here. Frankly, if this were any other customer-based business, he would be out on his ass immediately. Wrong or right, it’s simply the way it is.

      • BC - May 2, 2011 at 10:16 AM

        TBI: If you or I said and did that in an office setting, we’d be fired and permanently blackballed.
        That being said, I still can’t fathom McDowell doing what he did. The fans must have been saying some serious s–t and throwing a bunch of stuff at him to make him snap like that. Hindsight is 20-20, but he should have gotten security to just throw the first group of idiots out of there, and that would be that.

    • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      Also, McDowell *has* a second chance–they just suspended him. If he does it again he’s surely going to be fired.

    • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      McDowell didn’t get “termination,” he got a suspension.

      I don’t think anyone knows what (if anything) the targets of McDowell’s slurs said to him. I also don’t think it really matters, at least for the purpose of determining McDowell’s punishment. First, because McDowell is an adult responsible for his own actions; he can’t claim that he had no choice but to do what he did. Second, because McDowell is a public figure, representing his team and Major League Baseball; he’s held to a higher standard. And finally, what could the fans have said to him that would justify what he said?

  3. smarterthangirardi - May 1, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    sensitivity training program=”you didnt make a gay slur because you were angry at a fan you did it because your dad beat you right?”

    • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      What, you’ve had to go through them before?

    • fquaye149 - May 1, 2011 at 2:51 PM

      You’re right, Girardi. It does suggest a psychological traua for a coach to get this upset at a fan so much so that he would say or do things that any reasonable person would know could cost them their job. This isn’t Kobe getting pissed and letting an “f”-bomb slip in the heat of the moment. This is a guy going on what can only be described as a crazed rant of extended manic misjudgment. It’s not unreasonable to think there is SOMETHING going on in his personal life he might need to address if heckling of any sort made him respond by unleashing a barrage of homosexually biased remarks, vulgar gestures, and insinuations that children don’t belong at a major league ballpark. I am not saying this to rip on Roger…he always struck me as a decent guy. I’m just really really really confused as to what must be going through the head of someone to do all the things he did here. Something is going on in Roger’s life, I would guess. Something not good. Perhaps counseling is a good recommendation.

      I would hope that if you or I went on a bizarre, seemingly sourceless rant at our job after a pretty clear track record of being non-assholes, that our employers would try to figure out what’s wrong with us rather than just assuming that this is just the way we normally react to any given situation and then make jokes about how “heh heh…what? He made a sex joke involving a bat and his hand as an orifice because his dad beat him growing up? heh he, yeah right!”

  4. bigtrav425 - May 1, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    Who cares.McDowell is getting screwed here big time.The guy who filed the lawsuit or whatever it is,is really the homophobic considering he wanted to make it clear he was NOT gay.But with his whining and being unable to take a few words he def is no man….Words are just words my friend..learn to man up in life

    • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 3:16 PM

      “Who cares”? You clearly do, since you’ve commented on nearly every one of these posts.

      And yet you haven’t even grasped the basics of what’s going on. The guy who made the complaint was not the target of McDowell’s “homo” slur. He was sitting nearby and told McDowell to cool it because his (the fan’s) kids were there. At which point McDowell told him “kids don’t belong at the f***ing ballpark” and threatened the guy’s teeth with a bat. All of which is fine with you, apparently.

      So the fan isn’t against people calling him gay, since no one did; he’s against (surprise) people using slurs, profanity, and threats around his daughters. The guy who is “really the homophobic” is (surprise!) the guy who calls people “homos.”

      And finally, regarding “man up”–that’s like the eighth time you’ve said something like that. What do you think it means that you–like McDowell, like McDowell’s other defenders–are so concerned with other guys’ masculinities?

      • nyyankeefanforever - May 1, 2011 at 6:31 PM

        Wow, tomemos. Sounds like you have a verbatim transcript of the incident. Care to share the link?

        If not, then please quit spreading gasoline on a fire with your fertile imagination.

      • spiffy53 - May 1, 2011 at 6:47 PM

        nyyankeefanforever,

        go to cnn and they have a longer account of what happened. it’s not a he said he said. it’s a he said THEY said. as i read it, there were more than a handful of people that heard this from mcdowell. and mcdowell is not disputing it. last i checked, baseball is a business. you don’t do that to your customers without getting into some type of trouble. maybe you have the imagination that has the issue.

      • jvw1982 - May 1, 2011 at 7:23 PM

        wow, this guy still has a job?

      • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 8:41 PM

        The Yankees fans are doing themselves proud here, huh?

      • bigtrav425 - May 1, 2011 at 10:30 PM

        i care because as a Politically incorrect person.This world is getting overly PC and its disgusting……Think about it tho honestly….Lets say your right and he really is just worried about the remarks and thinks no one should use them….Tell me why he went out and got a celebrity lawyer??….That says it all right there to me my friend.Thats all i needed to here to know its a lil fishy

      • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 11:35 PM

        What are you even talking about anymore?

      • cur68 - May 2, 2011 at 12:24 AM

        tomemos; I’d give up on this one. From the grammar, spelling and fragmented typing I think you are trying to reason with someone incapable of being reasoned with.

        McDowell should consider himself lucky to still have a job. He publicly threatened a patron (a paying customer) with a weapon, used profanity and anti-gay slurs in front of children, cussed out their father for bringing kids to the ballpark, publicly insulted using anti-gay slurs other customers, barely apologized, and others are now coming forward to say he’s done stuff like this to them.

        Anyone who thinks this stuff is no big deal either does stuff like this themselves or hasn’t the imagination to think about how they’d react if McDowell was doing this to them.

        If that was me and my daughter there? He better have been prepared to use that bat.

    • nyyankeefanforever - May 1, 2011 at 6:25 PM

      Bigtrav has a point…this smells supsiciously of thought police. I don’t recall John Rocker being suspended for calling all New Yorkers f-ggots. Just sayin’.

      • spiffy53 - May 1, 2011 at 6:55 PM

        nyyankeefanforever,

        hello, mcfly, hello

        Jan. 31 — Commissioner Bud Selig suspends Rocker until May 1, saying his racial and ethnic remarks “offended practically every element of society.” Selig also imposes a $20,000 fine and orders Rocker to undergo sensitivity training.

        thanks for playing. please research topics before posting. you are embarrassing yourself.

      • luckywi - May 1, 2011 at 10:20 PM

        Yeah, I think the Rocker suspension was 28 games. Typical yankee fan. Ignorant of the facts.

    • luckywi - May 1, 2011 at 10:18 PM

      trav, you have issues, son. Get them dealt with, please.

  5. Wayne - May 1, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Has it been proven that he actually said this? Any video, any audio? Or is it just “he said it” so therefore he actually said it? Really?

    • tomemos - May 1, 2011 at 3:33 PM

      Um, he’s free to deny it and hasn’t in the slightest; on the contrary, he apologized for saying it. Now that he’s being punished, it would be a good time for him to deny it if he’s going to, don’t you think?

    • spiffy53 - May 1, 2011 at 6:52 PM

      wayne, if you need a video or audio to prove everything then we are all in trouble. i will take the word of the handful of people that complained along with the guy who did not dispute it as the same as video or audio in this case. please, use you head for more than just a hat rack.

    • luckywi - May 1, 2011 at 10:15 PM

      Yeah, I’m thinking you deny it if it didn’t happen. He apologized. And issued no denial. And I bet he doesn’t even appeal the suspension and the fine. Sad commentary, Wayne.

  6. roostertlc - May 1, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    THIS GUY GOT OFF WITH A ‘SLAP ON THE WRIST’ !!!
    HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR !!!
    WHEN YOU SPEW RACIAL SLURS IN FRONT OF CHILDREN IT IS SOMETHING THEY WILL NEVER FORGET AND AND COULD POSSIBLY SCAR THEM FOR LONG LONG TIME !!!

    BALL PLAYERS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO CONTROL THEIR TEMPERS BECAUSE A LOT OF THEM STILL HAVE NOT MATURED AS HUMAN BEINGS AND NEED TO BE TAUGHT A LESSON !!!!!
    MCDOWELL SHOULD ALSO HAVE TO WORK SOME VOLUNTEER HOURS IN A SOUP KITCHEN IN ‘THE CASTRO’ FEEDING THE PEOPLE HE DESPISES !!! OR HE SHOULD HAVE TO WORK IN AN HIV CLINIC. AND NO, I AM NOT A HOMOSEXUAL.
    BALL PLAYERS SHOULD BE STRONGLY FINED FOR ANY BENCH CLEARING DONNYBROOKS AND SENTECED TO ANGER MANAGEMENT CLASSES !!!
    MCDOWELL NEEDS MUCH MORE THAN ‘sensitivity training’ !!!
    HE NEEDS TO BE TAKEN OUT TO THE WOODSHED FOR A FEW WELTS ON HIS BEHIND !!!

    • nyyankeefanforever - May 1, 2011 at 6:18 PM

      Roostertic,

      It was probably someone like you that set him off. For ranting like a maniac and using all caps, I sentence you to the same as you suggest for McDowell: Suspension from posting for a year…lol!

      • luckywi - May 1, 2011 at 10:22 PM

        nyyankkefanforever: I disagreed with you on principle alone.

  7. scottster63 - May 1, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    Coaches and players are paid to be professional and put up with the fans – its part of their job and they are role models to children. He deserves whatever punishment is coming his way….

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