On a bizarre day of baseball, the Baltimore Orioles won a double header to increase their AL East lead, lodged three protests and lost Manager Earl Weaver for the next three games on a suspension for questioning umpire Ron Luciano's integrity.
Lee MacPhail, the American League president, was on hand to inspect the Comiskey Park field, which has been unplayable because of a rock concert and recent rains. By the time Gary Roenicke slammed a leadoff homer off reliever Ed Farmer in the 13th inning of the nightcap to clinch a 12-7, 4-3 Oriole sweep over the Chicago White Sox, MacPhail had already decided to suspend Weaver.
"I simply cannot tolerate Earl making a public comment like that upon an umpire's integrity," said MacPhail, who added the suspension would be effective Monday, pending an appeal by Weaver.
Weaver said tonight that he would not appeal the suspension. The Orioles play a twi-night doubleheader against Minnesota Monday night in Bloomington.
Asked about the suspension, Weaver said, "So what?"
Asked whether he was surprised, Weaver replied, "Surprised? I can't be surprised about anything in baseball. . . .I'll show up for work and there will be some place close to root for the boys. I said what I wanted. They did what they wanted. It's just a big show; that's all it is."
MacPhail put a gag order on Luciano. The question of the umpire's integrity apparently goes back to a statement Luciano allegedly made two years. The substance of it was that the umpire didn't care who won as long as it was not Weaver and the Orioles.
Weaver's lates brouhaha with Luciano occurred in the fifth inning of the opener when Doug DeCinces, whose grand-slam homer in the first started the Orioles to victory, was called out on strikes by Luciano. Weaver took a couple steps out of the dugout to protest the call.
A ball-and-strike call protest is grounds for automatic ejection, according to league rules.
Weaver then announced he was playing the game under protest. The basis of the protest, he said, was "umpire integrity." MacPhail was sitting in the stands when the public address announcer announced the third protest and the reason for it.
Earlier, MacPhail had ruled the Comiskey Park field playable. The Orioles reacted to that by protesting both games and claiming that the two games previously postponed in this series should be forefeited to Baltimore.
From Baltimore, Oriole General Manager Hank Peters said the protests would be maintained -- on principle -- whether the Orioles won or lost.
The Orioles won, also getting first-game homers from Ken Singleton, Eddie Murray and Rich Dauer, and by the time the doubleheader, was complete, the O's led second-place Milwaukee by 6 1/2 games and Boston by 7 1/2 in the AL East.
The Brewers beat Texas, 6-2, tonight; the Red Sox lost to Kansas City, 6-3, this afternoon.
After Mike Flanagan became the American League's first 18-game winner in the opener, relief ace Don Stanhouse had to survive a shaky 13th to bring the Orioles their sweep.
Pitching his fourth inning of relief, he yielded an infield hit to pinch hitter Jorge Orta and a double to Chet Lemon. But catcher Bill Nahorodny flied out to Singleton in right field to end the game.
DeCinces hit his 10th home run of the season and his third career grand slam in the first inning and Singleton slugged his 32nd with two men aboard in a four-run second inning.
Dauer hit his eighth with a man on in the fifth and Murray hit his 18th after DeCinces singled in the seventh.
Flanagan (18-7) survived a shaky second inning in which the White Sox scored four runs on singles by Lamar Johnson and Chet Lemon, a double by Wayne Nordhagen and singles by Nahordony and Jim Morrison.
Morrison hit his seventh homer in the seventh inning and Lemon hit his 14th in the eighth.
Peters' comments came shortly after MacPhail ruled that the field had improved enough to play the double-header.
Peters, speaking from his Baltimore home, sought the forfeitures, he said, because "the conditions were not solely an act of God. I think that somewhere along the line poor judgment was exercised by someone."
He said he does not expect the protest to be upheld.
"All we can do is protest," he said. "We feel that hopefully as a result of what has been our experience, our protest, whether allowed or disallowed, would prevent this type of situation from occurring in the future. ". . . the field was not put back into condition. . . those should not have been treated as postponed games. Those games should have been forfeited to us."
He said the circumstances could affect the Oriole pitching rotation and force an extra road trip for a makeup game on the eve of the playoffs.
"The thing that has been disturbing to us is the fact that you have your pitching rotation (messed up)," Peters said. "We face a doubleheader today and another tomorrow. We also have one game not played. If at the end of the season we still have to play it, we would be required to make a trip out there to play that game."