Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Umpire Mike Winters suspended for remainder of regular season over Bradley flap
NEW YORK -- Umpire Mike Winters was suspended by Major
League Baseball for the remainder of the regular season on
Wednesday because of his confrontation with San Diego's Milton
Bradley last weekend.
The Padres claimed Winters baited Bradley, who has a history of
losing his temper. Bradley tore a knee ligament when his manager
spun him to the ground while trying to keep him from going after
the umpire during Sunday's 7-3 loss to Colorado in San Diego.
Winters was suspended because the commissioner's office
concluded he had used a profanity aimed at Bradley, a baseball
official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the
reason for the suspension was not announced.
"It's something that's handled internally by MLB. They handle
the umpires, the Padres don't," San Diego manager Bud Black said
in San Francisco before his team played the Giants.
The 48-year-old Winters became a major league umpire in 1990 and
worked the World Series in 2002 and last year. He will not work
during the postseason, the baseball official said.
Winters became the first umpire suspended since 2003, when the
commissioner's office announced that Bruce Froemming and John
Hirschbeck each were receiving 10-day penalties. Froemming made an
anti-Semitic slur about an umpiring administrator and baseball said
Hirschbeck threatened a senior official in the commissioner's
Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline,
has not decided whether to penalize Bradley, the commissioner's
Padres closer Trevor Hoffman compared the quick action by
baseball commissioner Bud Selig's office to decisions by the NFL's
Roger Goodell and the NBA's David Stern.
"You can see what commissioner Goodell has done in the NFL,
you've seen how commissioner Stern takes care of business,"
Hoffman said. "This is an opportunity for our commissioner to have
a stronger voice in all facets of the game. It's an opportunity for
commissioner Selig to have a stronger voice with how the players
react. Bob Watson hears a lot of this stuff, but it doesn't seem to
be deterring anything."
Hirschbeck, president of the World Umpires Association, declined
"I want to wait until I have a chance to talk to our attorneys
in the morning," Hirschbeck said.
Bradley tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee
and was scheduled to have surgery Thursday in Cincinnati, which is
expected to sideline him for at least six months. His injury was a
blow to the Padres, who began Wednesday with a one-game lead over
Colorado and Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race.
"I think it's good to tell the players that the umpires are
going to be kept in line. It'll be good to retain order during
games knowing there's going to be repercussions if you let things
get out of hand," Padres second baseman Geoff Blum said. "It's
got to be satisfying to Milton knowing that what he said was true
and that some consequence came of it."
Trouble began when plate umpire Brian Runge asked Bradley if he
had flipped his bat in the ump's direction after taking a called
third strike that ended the fifth inning. Runge indicated that
Winters told him that Bradley had.
The dispute escalated after Bradley singled, then asked Winters
if he told Runge he threw his bat.
First base coach Bobby Meacham and Black said Winters used
profanity. Bradley called it "the most unprofessional and most
ridiculous thing I've ever seen."
"It's terrible. And now, because of him, my knee's hurt," he
said after the game. "If this costs me my season because of that,
he needs to be reprimanded. I'm taking some action. I'm not going
to stand pat and accept this because I didn't do nothing wrong."
The remainder of Winters' crew -- Froemming, Runge and Mark
Wegner -- is scheduled to work San Diego's season-ending series at
Milwaukee this weekend.
AP Sports Writers Mike Fitzpatrick in New York and Larry Lage in
Detroit, and AP freelance writer Michael Wagaman in San Francisco
contributed to this report.