Off to the fastest start of his 26-year career, Oriole Manager Earl Weaver was suspended for three games today by Lee MacPhail, American League president. Weaver has been told to get lost three other times, but this was his first jail sentence ever in spring training.
"It is inexcusable for a major league manager to take his team off the field," said MacPhail, referring to Weaver's forfeit last Thursday to Kansas City. "The suspension will start Monday or Tuesday, whichever the club wants."
Although Baltimore General Manager Hank Peters said Weaver would serve his time this week, Weaver said it all was news to him.
"If Lee told me, I didn't pay no attention," Weaver said happily after the Orioles' 10-7 loss to Texas today.
In fact, the imp/manager said, he had been considering a protest of his own. He called it a "sit out."
Weaver said he would sit out as a symbol of his belief in President Reagan's economic philosophies.
"I'm using President Reagan's platform," Weaver said, fairly bouncing in delight at this display of midseason form. "I don't believe in a man -- in this case, an umpire -- taking a dollar's pay without a day's work. I'm protesting to increase productivity, to eliminate waste, to cut out the bureaucratic bungling."
The offensive bureaucrat in Weaver's mind is umpire Mark Johnson, who last week would not read off Kansas City's substitutes so Weaver could write them down on his little lineup card. Such informality is accepted practice in spring training, where teams run in substitutes by the handful every two or three innings.
"Not accepted by me," Weaver said. "There's one guy in baseball who gives a damn who's playing in his games. I've had my substitutes written down any time I've ever played game."
"Earl may have been technically right," said MacPhail, who sat in a box seat four feet from Weaver's spot in the dugout here. "But it is commonplace in spring training not to get so technical. I don't know why Earl chose to make such a big to-do about it. The incident itself is unimportant, but it is important that we treat those 4,000 fans right."
Had MacPhail considered a fine for Weaver?
The president sighed. "I've fined Earl so many times . . ." A look of benevolent despair settled upon his tanned brow.
Well, will Weaver be in uniform with the Orioles on Monday?
"I don't feel I can make a man's money and not do a day's work," he said. "I'll be here -- unless I decide to have my sit out."
The Orioles cut infielder Cal Ripken Jr. and four other players today, sending them to Biscayne College to await assignment. Of Ripken, Weaver said, "We thought we'd give him the year of triple-A experience he hasn't had. I've seen enough of him to know that if we need help at shortshop or third during the season, we can play this kid at either place."