The rhetoric surrounding the ejection of Rays reliever Joel Peralta last night ratcheted this afternoon when Nationals Manager Davey Johnson defended his decision to order an inspection of Peralta’s glove – a decision Rays Manager Joe Maddon described Wednesday as “cowardly” – and called Maddon a “weird wuss.”
Responding to the charges Maddon leveled Tuesday night, Johnson rested on the rules. Peralta had been caught using “a significant amount of pine tar,” home plate umpire Tim Tschida said. Maddon said even Nationals players would have a problem with Johnson’s decision. Johnson did not read into an unwritten code.
“And anytime there’s a rule violation, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a rule violation,” Johnson said. “My only comments to him is, read the rulebook. It’s simple. I’ve been involved in every conceivable kind of thing you can think of about players trying to get an edge mentally or physically, and that’s part of the game. When somebody goes a little overboard, you call it out. It’s that simple. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over and done with.”
Only Johnson said more.
“I didn’t know him that well, but I thought he was a weird wuss, anyway,” Johnson said. “I understand where he’s coming from. His job as a manager is to protect the players. Striking out at who ever he thinks is causing your players any grievance. So I understand where he’s coming from. But he doesn’t know me from a hole in the hill. Or I him, for that matter. But I do know the rulebook, and I do try to follow it.”
Johnson worried the sideshow would provide a distraction to the game itself. But he also chided Maddon’s reputation as a brainy manager.
“I don’t want to get in a shouting match with Joe,” Johnson said. “I looked him up on the Internet and found out he has a Tweeter, so he can get to more people than me. And so I don’t want to get in a shouting match with him. He’s got a bigger following. But it was interesting reading. But you can tell him I have a doctorate of letters, too. Mine’s from Loyola, in humanities. And I’m proud of that, too.”
Johnson said he did not expect the issue to carry over into tonight’s game, but “I’m not speaking for the guru over there,” Johnson said. “But as far as the league and as far as I’m concerned with, it’s just one little issue.”
Johnson did make two significant points. He said Peralta should be not be suspended – the precedence would be 10 days – and that the ejection was harsh enough punishment. He said he hesitated to order the glove inspection, but that Peralta had gone overboard in his use.
“A lot of guys will sometimes put a little pine tar on the string of their glove,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of undetectable. I have no problem with any of that. It’s just when I feel it’s excessive that I have a problem with it.”
Maddon elevated the rhetoric today by saying the Nationals would have difficulty attracting players to Washington because of Johnson’s act. General Manager Mike Rizzo shot that notion down.
“I don’t agree with it,” Rizzo said. “I don’t think that’s going to faze potential players to come here because we’ve got a great thing going here and it’s a place that players are going to want to come to and players love playing for Davey Johnson and they will continue to love to play for Davey Johnson and Davey’s one of the reasons that we attract players to the Nationals.”
Before today’s game, Rizzo hugged Maddon behind the batting cage and chatted amiably for a minute. Rizzo actually played for Maddon in the minor leagues, at Class A Salem in 1982. Rizzo did not seem overly bothered by the incident.
“My take on the whole situation is you have two major players and major managers and veteran guys who’ve done it all and they’re protecting their players,” Rizzo said. “That’s what good managers do and that’s what they have to continue doing.”
And, for the record, Rizzo supported Johnson’s decision to order the inspection of Peralta’s glove.
“If Davey were to know about something, an unfair advantage against us, and not say anything about it, I’d be upset at Davey for not saying anything,” Rizzo said.