Show 5: April 30, 2000
Bob Ley, Host: April 30, 2000. It is a code, a simple code
understood by all who play the game.
Ley: Chin music, pitchers protecting the plate and their team,
one of baseball's ancient unwritten rules. But for how long?
Frank Robinson, Major League Baseball, Vice President Of On-Field
Operations: I'm not trying to stop a pitcher from pitching inside, and
maybe even hitting hitters accidentally or even on purpose. I'm not
saying that. But if they do that, and it escalates into something or
whatever, then they have to be willing to pay the penalty.
Ley: Today on OUTSIDE THE LINES, can baseball change the macho
culture of a high and tight fastball?
Announcer: OUTSIDE THE LINES is presented by 1-800-CALLATT.
Joining us from ESPN Studios, Bob Ley.
Ley: If the pictures were stunning enough, a jarring departure
from the usual baseball fights, then the dropping of the other shoe was an
even larger surprise.
Frank Robinson spent five full days carefully watching videotape,
reading reports from umpires, then issuing his first major decision as
baseball's new vice president of on-field operations. This Hall of Famer
played with as much fire and passion as anyone. And he was no stranger to
knock-down pitches and on-field confrontations.
So when a man who commands respect throughout his sport threw the
book at the Tigers and the White Sox, the decision echoed far beyond the
suspensions and fines. Robinson actually used the word "sportsmanship" in
announcing his wide-ranging discipline. And he talked of the impact on
For baseball, it was the second visit this week from the real
world after 11 players observed the Elian Gonzalez boycott. But
Robinson's edict cuts across the entire game through every clubhouse,
involving each player, confronting decades of macho tradition.
Jeremy Schaap examines the sweeping penalties and the problem it
Jeremy Schaap, ESPN Correspondent: (voice-over): In the National
Basketball Association, the rule is clear. If you come off the bench
during a fight, you will be suspended. Three years ago in the second
round of the playoffs, four New York Knicks, including Patrick Ewing,
rushed onto the court when their teammate Charlie Ward was fighting the
Miami Heat's P.J. Brown.
Unidentified Male: What I saw was P.J. Brown body slam Charlie
Unidentified Male: It's going to be very interesting to see what
Rodthorn (ph) does, very.
Schaap: All four Knicks who came off the bench were suspended,
and New York lost its next two games and the series. Of course, not
everyone learned from the Knicks' loss. But for the most part, NBA
players are now much more reluctant to leave the bench during a fight.
Unidentified Male: Lofton. Oh, baby, Lofton is on his way, and
here we go.
Schaap: In baseball, on the other hand, it seems no one in
uniform can resist piling on.
Phil Garner, Tigers Manager: You want your players to play this
game with emotion and compassion. And sometimes it crosses the line.
Schaap: Just last week at Comiskey Park after Tigers pitcher Jeff
Weaver hit two White Sox batters, a massive melee broke out.
Unidentified Male: To put it mildly, and there's the retaliation.
There's Palmer. And here we go.
Schaap: Exercising his authority as baseball's new disciplinary
czar, Frank Robinson kneaded out unprecedented punishment. Robinson
levied more than $23,000 in fines.
Fourteen players and coaches were suspended a total of 66 games.
Eight others were only fined. White Sox Manager Jerry Manuel and Tigers
Manager Phil Garner were each suspended eight games.
Robinson: In the end, I did want to try to send a message to
everybody in baseball that this will not be tolerated because it is not a
part of baseball. Brawling is not a part of baseball.
Schaap: But brawling has been a part of baseball for decades.
Like bullfighting, charging the mound is a strange and sacred tradition, a
ritualized dance. The bullpens and dugouts empty as players, sometimes
out of genuine anger, sometimes merely out of a sense of obligation, storm
Clearly, Robinson, who in his Hall of Fame career was one of the
game's toughest players, was attempting to mandate a change in the culture
and custom of baseball.
Ron Schueler, White Sox Senior Vice President And General Manager:
They want to stop it. They want to make a point that the other 28 clubs
that are out there, they're going to have to think about whether they want
to jump into one of these.
Mike Stanley, Red Sox First Baseman: Well, he's obviously set a
precedent now that it's not going to be tolerated. And you know, it is a
part of our game. And I'm sure it's going to continue to happen. But
guys are going to have to pay the price.
Don Baylor, Cubs Manager: This is a warning to all of us. And if
it happens again, Frank is going to be on the hot seat to have the same
type of suspension for other guys.
Schaap: Specifically, Robinson is trying to rid the game not of
the one-on-one altercations between pitcher and hitter that are considered
unavoidable, but of the large-scale 25-on-25 melees they so often
Robinson: I think if we can stop players from coming out of the
bullpen or coming out of the dugouts and spilling onto the field, I think
we can start to control these type of things and start to eliminate them.
Now I'm not trying to keep a hitter from charging the mound. If
he feels like he wants to charge the mound, he can go ahead and charge it.
I'm trying to stop a pitcher from pitching inside, and maybe even hitting
hitters accidentally or even on purpose. I'm not saying that.
Schaap: But Robinson is struggling against the tribal instinct
that makes teams teams. Tigers third baseman Dean Palmer was suspended
eight games, more than any other player, for his role in the brawl with
the White Sox. Still, he says he would fight again.
Dean Palmer, Tigers Third Baseman: Yeah, I would have to because
I think if your team is out there brawling and battling, I think you've
got to be there no matter what. I think you've just got to take your
Bobby Higginson, Tigers Left Fielder: When something like that
happens, you know, I don't think most guys think about the consequences.
They think they just go out and react. And maybe they'll have to deal
with the consequences after they do what they do. But in the heat of the
battle, they don't really think about that when they're going out to the
Schaap: The challenge for baseball is to make players fear the
consequences of fighting more than they fear the consequences of not
fighting. Suspensions and fines are often secondary when honor is at
David Justice, Indians Left Fielder: Granted, I know that if you
levy heavy fines, guys are going to think twice. No doubt about it. But
I don't think it will ever stop because some guys, their manhood is more
important than that dollar.
Unidentified Male: Tempers start to fly. And next thing you
know, repercussions start to take place. And you know, guys aren't going
to sit there and stand for it. So we're not sure if he's going to be able
to change it.
Jim Thome, Indians First Baseman: When you're in that situation,
it's tough because you react for your team. You don't react for yourself.
You react to get respect from your teammates.
Frank Thomas, White Sox First Baseman: You've got to protect each
other. And that's just the way it is. You know, fighting in pro sports
has always happened. There's a lot of testosterone flying around. I
mean, it's serious business.
Schaap: Serious business interests in fact are also a factor in
baseball's crackdown. The game is still trying to bring back fans,
particularly families, alienated by a labor strike and high ticket prices.
And Robinson hopes to do that with a wholesome product.
Jerry Manuel, White Sox Manager: Baseball is on the up-swing in
society as a whole. And I think he's trying to do everything he can to
keep that going.
Robinson: If we're going to ask the families to come out here to
enjoy our sport, and the young people, try to get them back in the
ballpark in bunches, we have to set a good example. And brawling on the
field is not a good example to set.
Schaap: In the end, Robinson's most effective deterrent may not
be fines or suspensions. As salaries continue to soar, players are
increasingly concerned with their health. And no one wants to see his
career end in a brawl.
For OUTSIDE THE LINES, I'm Jeremy Schaap.
Ley: And when OUTSIDE THE LINES continues, I'll be joined live by
the managers of the teams whose actions brought us to this point, Jerry
Manuel of the Chicago White Sox and Phil Garner of the Detroit Tigers.
Ley: The impact of Frank Robinson's historic decision our topic
this morning. We are joined from Comerica Park in Detroit by the manager
of the Tigers, Phil Garner, and by the skipper of the Chicago White Sox,
Jerry Manuel, each of them still under suspension. Today they will miss
the third of eight games of their suspensions.
We just established during the commercial break, you guys haven't
had a chance to talk while this went down. So engage in a little skipper
by-play (ph) between the two of you. What's the one thing you've learned
from this entire experience just quickly sitting out watching your team,
Manuel: Well, you know, I think the thing that I learned about my
team is that we are a cohesive club. And we're playing good baseball.
And we actually didn't want anything to affect the way we were playing the
game of baseball.
But we're also very apologetic to what happened last Saturday.
That's not something we want to be identified with as professionals.
Ley: Jerry, you could have sat down with Frank Robinson and
officially appealed. Why did you not?
Manuel: Well, the reason I did not is because Frank Robinson is a
guy that's a Hall of Fame player that has been through the wars and the
battles. And I understand the message that he's trying to send throughout
And I think it's an important message. Obviously, I'm not pleased
to be a part of that. But I know it's for the betterment of the game.
And that's just something that I have to accept. And that's just the
respect that I have for Frank Robinson.
Ley: Phil, your reason for not appealing?
Garner: Well, I would echo my feelings that Jerry said. We all
are disappointed that these things happened.
I understand that there are going to be altercations in baseball.
We'd like to keep them at a minimum. And we would like not to see teams
breaking off into different parts.
I had a chance to sit down and talk with Frank. I'm disappointed
that managers, both myself and Jerry, were suspended. I think it's wrong.
I don't understand the concept when you're holding managers responsible
for what goes on the field.
Yet at the same time, when you've got a situation that could be
volatile this weekend - could be, I say - I don't know that anything is
going to happen, but you're removing the very guys that you're trying to
hold responsible, the two guys that should be out here to make sure that
nothing else happens. So that seems strange to me.
I also think that no managers - everybody wants to see baseball be
as clean as possible. I also know that you cannot stop every player from
getting onto the field when situations occur sometimes.
And I'm not saying the players are right in doing that. And
sometimes they're not wrong.
Ley: Let me pick up on your point about a manager keeping a reign
on his team. Watching the game is going to be - because of a new rule
this year, both suspended managers, you guys can't even be at the
ballpark. Have you sensed since this went down, even watching Friday and
Saturday, any moment where absent what happened, absent the suspensions,
there might have been a little bit of a flare-up?
Garner: I have not sensed anything. I don't - we had Damon
Easley that was nicked by a pitch. But I don't think it was anything
intentional there. And I didn't see that anything was going to happen
from that regard.
Incidentally, Konerko was nicked with a pitch too. I take
exception to say that we hit two guys. Konerko was hit, the hair on his
Garner: I did not see anything. And I don't know that Jerry
did or not.
Ley: We've got a piece of sound with Bobby Higginson of the
Detroit Tigers. He was in the middle of this. He drew a suspension. He
was in Jeremy Schaap's report.
And Bobby Higginson describes for us how things go on a field and
what goes through the mind of a ballplayer. Let's listen to Bobby
Higginson for a second.
Higginson: It was just a different guy out there. I mean, some
demon was inside me running around out there because that's not really me.
But when he threw the ball at Deano (ph), I mean, it was up by his head.
And if he wasn't expecting that, I think it would have hit him in the head
and could have really hurt him, and then nothing would have been said.
And then we took care of business the way we thought we should have taken
care of it.
Ley: Jerry, let me pick up on a point that Jeremy Schaap wrote up
in his report, the difference between anger and obligation for the guys on
the bench. How many guys were angry, and how many guys felt an
Manuel: Well, I think what the point is here is that we as an
industry sometimes forget that the things that permeate through society,
like aggression and violence and those types of things, we're not immune
to them. And I think we have to somehow address issues before they become
issues in our industry.
I think that's the biggest key at this time. I think we kind of
wait and react instead of being proactive about different things that are
going on in society.
We're definitely not immune to the things that's happening in
society. And it shows in the different sports, not only in baseball, and
basketball, football, hockey, and all the other sports, that the
aggression and the violence that's in our society is also a part of our
industries. And we need to address those things.
Ley: Well, speaking about the sports industry, Phil, the NBA has
a hard and fast rule. Off the bench, you're suspended. The NFL has
cracked down. Hockey, you rarely see bench-clearing brawls. You think
baseball is edging towards a more stringent written rule about coming out
of the dugouts?
Garner: I would like to see baseball have a hard and fast rule.
If you're going to suspend guys for certain things, have the hard and fast
rule so that people know what they're dealing with before they go out
Otherwise, I think you're going to clearly have somebody who's
going to get an attorney involved in one of these things. And we're going
to have a lawsuit one of these days against maybe Major League Baseball
and some of the fines because let's just put it this way.
Let's say that you have one of your big home run hitters. He's
running for the all-time home run leadership. He gets hit, or thrown at
in the head. He decides that he's not going to take this anymore, and he
charges the mound.
Somebody issues an eight-day suspension for him, that could cost
him that. If I'm that player, or if you think that scenario through, I
think there's some potential for legal action.
So I think we ought to have something from the players'
association that's cut and dry so that players would know something and
we're not left out there to say that this team got this kind of
suspension, this time got one that's a little bit different, or this guy
got a suspension because he was a little more of this or that.
I think we can make rules like that. And I think it can come
through the players' association so that players are all in agreement, and
we're all going to live by it.
Ley: But by all accounts, the union is very comfortable with
Frank Robinson. I believe he's even made the gesture of going over and
speaking with him. And they seem to be very much in tune with what just
happened to your two ball clubs on Thursday.
Garner: I'm not talking - if it's up to me, I've not talked to
the players' association. I did speak to - as I alluded to earlier - I
spoke with Frank. I have a great deal of respect for Frank also. And I'm
glad that we have a former player, and certainly one of his stature that's
in this role.
But by the same token, there's always going to be differences.
And I have differences of opinion on these suspensions. I think clearly
we got suspensions for fighting. They had a couple of players suspended
But the message for me that's sent here is that pitchers can do
what they want to do because three-game suspensions for pitchers are
Ley: All right, we're going to pick up on that point. The code
in baseball, it involves protecting the plate, protecting your teammates,
as we continue ahead on OUTSIDE THE LINES with the suspended skippers of
the White Sox and the Tigers.
Ley: We continue with Tigers Manager Phil Garner and White Sox
skipper Jerry Manuel.
Gentlemen, Curt Schilling is as fierce a competitor as there is in
this game. Listen for a second as he I think rather concisely talks about
the code of the pitcher protecting the plate and his teammates.
Curt Schilling, Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher: My goal as a
pitcher is to make sure that my players are protected as hitters. And if
a pitcher on another team feels like he can throw at my players, then it's
my job to make sure he understands he can't do that.
In the National League, it's a little different because we hit.
And I know when I'm facing a pitcher that will plunk one of my guys if I
hit one of their guys, you're aware of that. And I make sure, I've always
made sure that my teammates understood that I would protect them and that
opposing pitchers know that I will hit them if there is a problem with one
of my players.
Ley: Jerry, everybody knows the code is a little bit different
with the DH now in the American League.
Manuel: Yeah, that's true. I mean, in the American League, you
don't have the opportunity to obviously for the pitcher to hit. But at
the same time, he has to protect his players.
And that's one of the difficult things about being in the American
League at this time. But it's still a part of baseball.
Ley: Phil, Kurt Gibson on the telecast as this was unfolding the
other day said, "Maybe the Tigers need this." In the heart of hearts of
people around the team, do you think when you're struggling like this,
yes, it was a bad, ugly scene. But is there a part of the soul of a major
league skipper and coach that says, you know, maybe this will help us? It
hasn't so far, I understand...
Ley: But is there a part of you that might believe that?
Garner: Yes there is. I think that while we all have a disdain
for violence and we don't want to see guys hurt, we also believe fiercely,
all of us do in competition, in competition played with great compassion
on the great field and great emotions on the field. You cannot - and I
stress that - you cannot as an athlete play this game and not have emotion
and sometimes not push those emotions to the brink.
And if you're going to compete, if you're going to be a winner,
you're going to get to the point sometimes when you're willing to fight.
And I say that to a lot of players when I get some that are sort of
pacifists, I say, "Listen, there is a point in your life when you will
fight. If I start smacking you around on the face, pretty soon you're
going to get up to me and you're going to stand up to me. And you're
going to say, "Look, I'm going to protect myself.""
And the same thing happens on the field when you're trying to win.
And you want players to play like that. We have not taken the energy that
was probably created from that and put it in the winds on our ball club so
Ley: Can we talk about the energy? Very quickly, what has been
the energy around the Tigers since all these suspensions came down? I
mean, you're having trouble getting W's up on the board. Have there been
a dampening of the spirit because of the suspensions? Or has there been
Garner: None whatsoever. I would say that a little bit of anger,
but not much. But no dampening of spirits.
Ley: Jerry, what about the attitude on your ball club? I know
you can't be in the dugout during the games. But what has this discipline
done to them? You're still winning.
Manuel: Well, I think what it has done to us is like Phil said,
hopefully it takes you to a level of compassion and intensity that you can
carry on throughout the season. I think that's the key for us.
If we play the way we're playing and play at the level of
intensity that we're playing, we can be a good ball club. But the thing
is to sustain that level of intensity.
And that's kind of where we are at this time. We just happen to
be getting the breaks, playing good baseball. And things happen to be
going our way. But at the same time, in order to be a good club, we're
eventually going to have to go through some adversity.
Ley: In one sentence, do you think it's possible, Jerry, to
separate the large brawls from the age-old issue of pitching inside? Can
you separate that? Can baseball handle that?
Manuel: Oh, I think baseball can handle that. I think you've got
to pitch inside. That's a big part of pitching is to establish the inside
part of the plate. And I think the two can be separated.
Ley: Phil, in 10 seconds, can baseball do that?
Garner: Yes we can. I would say this quickly, that when Jerry
and I played, players did not charge the mound. It's changed in the last
15 years. And we can change it back.
Ley: Well, I'd like to thank both of you gentlemen for being with
us. I know your time at the ballpark is precious. You have to leave the
premises during the game.
Thanks to Phil Garner and Jerry Manuel. They return to their
respective dugouts next weekend.
And we will continue here on ESPN. As we continue, stay with us.
Ley: Last week's Easter Sunday program on faith in the national
pastime brought a large array of reaction into our e-mail inbox. Dodger
veteran Orel Hershiser speaking on the increasingly visible presence of
religious faith in major league clubhouses.
Orel Hershiser, L.A. Dodgers Pitcher: Everybody has got their own
priority list. And some people come to the ball park, and baseball is the
number one priority, and then their faith kind of filters into that. And
other people come to the ball park, and their faith in the number one
thing and baseball is secondary.
And the ball club chooses you as a baseball player. And then you
bring your own personal beliefs and your relationship with God into the
clubhouse. And so that can mix sometimes in a really great way, and other
times it can cause some controversy.
Ley: A viewer from Ft. Lauderdale wrote to thank us for the show
about Christian athletes in baseball, calling it "reasonably balanced and
fairly presented, something not generally seen from the media on Christian
From nearby West Palm, "I dare say poor Chad Curtis and his
holier-than-thou delusions still needs God's grace to learn compassion and
that God's message is inclusion even of rappers."
Another viewer wrote, asking, "It has always been prudent not to
impinge one's belief on another. I wonder what athletes of other
religions feel about the prevalence of organized religion interfering with
the sport. If athletes want to pray, fine. But it needs to stay away
from the field. Evangelism does not belong."
From New Albany, Ohio, the observation that the Easter Show "was
the worst programming ESPN has ever aired. If we as viewers want to be
preached to, we would go to church. I feel that ESPN ostracized all the
non-Christian viewers. And you should look closer at your topics before
you push them on the viewer."
And from New Jersey, the suggestion that the reporting also
include "the opinions of non-Christians to see if they feel pressure to
get the message. Perhaps an interview with one of the three Yankee
players who did not attend chapel services would have added to the report
to see whether they felt pressure from the Christians."
We remind you that OUTSIDE THE LINES is on-line at ESPN.com. Type
in the keyword "otlweekly," and there you will find video excerpts and a
library of program transcripts, as well as a place to register your
thoughts and suggestions. Our e-mail address, email@example.com.
This reminder, if you missed any portion of this program on
baseball's record suspensions from the past week, our program will be
repeating today on ESPN2 at 5:30 Eastern time.
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BROADCAST OF SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2000
Anchor: Bob Ley
Guests: Phil Garner, Detroit Tigers manager
Jerry Manuel, Chicago White Sox manager
Correspondent: Jeremy Schaap
Coordinating producer: Jonathan Ebinger