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Roger McDowell was lucky to just get a suspension

May 2, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

mcdowell head Getty Images

I missed this yesterday — which was apparently written before baseball suspended Roger McDowell for two weeks — but Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Roger McDowell’s behavior in San Francisco last week from another perspective: that of the fan who didn’t hire Gloria Allred to reenact McDowell’s behavior at a press conference.  The upshot: the accusations are corroborated and, in my view, hit a lot harder without the lights and TV cameras of that Allred presser.

Also in my view: McDowell’s biggest transgression, at least as far as baseball is concerned, was not the homophobic language or innuendo for its own sake.  Rather, it was the fact that he was hostile to baseball fans.  Take away the salacious aspects of what he said and change it all to him merely calling them jerks or something more culturally benign, and we’re still left with a situation in which a uniformed representative of the game is confronting Major League Baseball’s paying customers in a hostile manner. That’s just unacceptable. If I ran the Braves, I would strongly consider firing him for the same reasons that any business owner would fire an employee who engaged in unprompted hostilities with customers.

As it stands, McDowell should consider himself very lucky that he got off with a mere two week suspension.

  1. BC - May 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Like I said in an earlier comment, when the first group of fans started talking trash and apparently throwing trash, his first move should have been to get a security guard over and make those guys go bye bye. Done. Over. No issue. Apparently McDowell just snapped.

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - May 2, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    How big was the fine? That probably hit him a lot harder than the suspension.

  3. APBA Guy - May 2, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    This article was a big talking point out here yesterday, and for the reasons Craig cited,, primarily the “corroboration without spotlights” aspect. SF is a liberal place, but it’s also a city built on blue collar foundations. A lot of people were inclined to sympathy for McDowell, simply because of the gay + Gloria Allred aspects. Now practically everyone here has come down on the “fire him” side of the question. An MLB coach should never keep his job after threatening a father in front of his family after the father suggested, no matter how strongly, that the coach’s language and actions take into consideration the presence of families at the ballpark.

    • BC - May 2, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      Other than fishermen, when was San Fran ever blue collar? During the 1860s gold rush?

      • clydeserra - May 2, 2011 at 12:56 PM

        Its a port City. Or was, at least.

      • APBA Guy - May 2, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        How soon they forget!

        SF was the largest West Coast ship building center up until the middle of the cold war, at one point had over 10,000 United Airlines mechanics, etc at their huge SFO hub, it was a city in the middle of an agricultural region, and is still a huge port city. As I said, blue collar foundations.

        By the mid ’60′s there were a lot of changes to the demographics, but look at the on location footage from “Dirty Harry” (1971) and you can get a sense of the city’s blue collar past. Or for baseball historians, the shootout scene from “Magnum Force” (1973) where Tim Matheson bites it (Oh, Otter) which takes place in China Basin, now the location of AT&T Park.

      • BC - May 2, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        I was born in 1967. Other than the Dirty Harry movies and “The Streets of San Francisco” I don’t remember this stuff. Always thought Oakland was the blue collar town – other than the fishermen.

      • skerney - May 2, 2011 at 4:48 PM

        There are less than 1 million people living in SF. Most Giants fans live spread out across Northern CA and the Central Valley. The father who was threatened by Mcdowell was up from Fresno. The fans aren’t just Pacific Heights and Marina tech yuppies. For being in “The City” Giants games are a cross section of the bay area. Also, if you want Blue Collar, you should jump off the BART at the Coliseum, walk past the chain link fences and check out the A’s. Thats blue collar.

  4. IdahoMariner - May 2, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    He should be fired. If this were your waiter at a restaurant — gone. If this were the clerk at the supermarket — gone. Doesn’t matter what he said (that was just more evidence that he’s a jerk) — he unloaded on paying customers, and future paying customers, and let them know they weren’t welcome to bring their kids. And he did it, apparently, in response to some pretty standard heckling. Apparently he has lost his perspective and ability to laugh off silly (really, really harmless and silly) taunts. time to go.

    • BC - May 2, 2011 at 2:38 PM

      I did read somewhere that the first group of guys were throwing stuff at him, though. In which case, hold yourself back from snapping (which he did not) and call security over to boot the guys (which he did not). Then go up the tunnel to the clubhouse or wherever and curse and say whatever you want with no one around.

  5. Jonny 5 - May 2, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    I would probably fire him.

  6. jupiter999 - May 2, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Well, the Braves will look pretty pathetic when they allow the guy to come back who assaulted paying customers. (verbal threats are assault under law I believe)

  7. ricofoy - May 2, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    How fun is it going to be to really heckle this jerk now? I can’t wait!

    • cur68 - May 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM

      Really letting him have it after this will be tons of punishment. That and the sensitivity training will be like living hell for him. He’s certainly earned it.

  8. indaburg - May 2, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    Roger, say it ain’t so. As a kid growing up in Queens in the 80s, I was a huge fan of the Mets and McDowell in particular was one of my favorites, with his hotfoot pranks and bubblegum blowing antics. How disillusioning to learn about his disgusting behavior towards fans. When I read what he did and said, my heart sank. His actions were deplorable and he should be fired. (Were any of the mid-80s Mets not complete a-holes?)

    • jeffrp - May 2, 2011 at 5:12 PM

      Sorry but no.

  9. superpriebe - May 2, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    My first thought when I heard of the suspension being so short was that he must be a pretty nice guy. People inside the game must like and respect him, and that being the case, there must be a reason for that.

    Are we sure this guy was really – I mean REALLY – threatening a fan, and not just goofing around? The descriptions I have read can easily be seen as someone trying to clown around, like a comedian dishing back to a heckler in a way that is entertaining for the rest of the audience. That doesn’t excuse insensitive remarks or PG-13 humor, but this perspective is far more consistent with his reputation as a joker and prankster. The guy has no history of violent incidents, but he does have a history of being seen with his uniform pants over his head with his shoes on his hands.

    Sure, sure, lapse in judgment. Perhaps so far as a *serious* lapse in judgment. The guy needs to understand that what was funny in the 80′s isn’t all acceptable nowadays. After 26 years of being in and around the game, “Baseball” knows this guy pretty well by now, and if everything was as blatantly fan-unfriendly as we’ve been reading, the guy would certainly be out of a job. To me, that explains the proverbial wrist-slap, and if such is the case, it’s the right call. If McDowell is truly the upright kinda guy I guessed earlier, he’ll learn from this and respect the fact that he’s still in the game that much more.

    The media loves roasting people and – sadly – the public likes watching and calling for the destruction of a man. See comments above. For my part, I’d rather see a a guy who put in as much time and good work as McDowell has getting some benefit of the doubt.

    • paperlions - May 2, 2011 at 5:59 PM

      So….you are saying that being a homophobic jackass was funny in the 80s, so people should cut the guy some slack until he catches up with the times?.
      .
      I’m struggling to think of a context where a stranger threatening to ram a bat up your bung would be taken as funny in front of families and children….I must just need to get out more.

      • superpriebe - May 2, 2011 at 7:47 PM

        Oh please, are you really serious, paperlions? You don’t even need to go back to the 80s for “acceptable” homophobic humor, do we? I mean, how long ago was “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”? Will and Grace? I wish I could pretend that the general public no longer accepts immature homophobic humor, but unfortunately, I cannot. Anyone who does has their head in the sand.

        So, you’ve never seen anyone ‘pretend’ to fight? It’s approximately the most common joke in any school. Ditto for trash talking. If McDowell said he had nice big jar of whoop-ass in the clubhouse refrigerator, would we calling for his head? Geez, go watch “Shark Tale” and its obvious that even a 5 year old can understand that threats expressed in a silly way are funny. Did I miss all of the lawsuits against the makers of that film?

        Look, I’m not suggesting that he didn’t cross the line – he did. He needs to understand that. He really does. Hence the reprimand, and hopefully further measures to make sure he doesn’t have a problem like this ever again. However, I wholly despise the glee so many people take in ruining a man, regardless if they have taken the time to hear another side, and what else he’s done over the last 2.5 decades. North America is not crawling with saints, and neither is this thread.

      • paperlions - May 2, 2011 at 8:41 PM

        I was just trying to find the point in your ramblings….it wasn’t clear, whatever it was.

        Situational comedy that includes gay people and events/misunderstandings/complications that may arise specifically related to the gayness is not homophobic humor. You can make fun of gay people without being homophobic….just like you can make fun of just about any other group without being sexist/racist/classist.

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