The members of the New York media who visited Shea Stadium on Thursday night likely did not include a single reporter from The Ring magazine, a publication that soon might consider staffing baseball games. Especially if the battle-weary New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, who engaged in baseball's second bench-clearing incident in less than a week, and other teams continue to throw punches after ill-placed pitches.
One coach and six players -- including New York's Darryl Strawberry and Tim Teufel, who emerged from the Mets clubhouse after the fray started -- were ejected, each earning a mandatory fine and a possible suspension.
Only six days earlier, Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson and pitcher John Mitchell were ejected for their part in two bench-clearing episodes in Baltimore's 14-1 victory over Kansas City. They too are awaiting word on the severity of their penalties.
As for severity, the brawl between the Mets and Phillies, which began when Philadelphia's Pat Combs hit New York pitcher Dwight Gooden with his first pitch of the fifth inning, may have been the worst of the year. It escalated mainly due to the actions of players (Strawberry and Teufel) who weren't even on the field when it began.
It's possible suspensions will be dealt in both of the recent incidents, although officials from the league offices withhold comment on cases still under investigation. The National League office declined to comment yesterday.
Earlier this season Boston Manager Joe Morgan was suspended three games after revealing he told a pitcher to throw at a hitter. A month later eight players -- four each from Milwaukee and Seattle -- and Brewers Manager Tom Trebelhorn were benched by American League President Bobby Brown for an incident in Seattle.
Things appeared to have calmed down until last Friday, when Anderson was plunked in the rear end by Kansas City reliever Steve Crawford in the sixth inning of the Orioles rout, the apparent fallout from the previous inning, when several Royals objected to Anderson trying to steal with a 9-1 lead. After the initial hostilities, which escalated when Anderson charged the mound at Crawford's invitation, Mitchell threw a pitch behind Kevin Seitzer in the next inning and was ejected because warnings had been issued to both teams.
The Mets-Phillies free-for-all was even uglier. Home-plate umpire Randy Marsh called it one of the worst he has seen. Several Mets said the brawl was the turning point in a 5-4 victory that moved them within a half-game of first place in the National League East on a night when Gooden was punched on the head several times by Philadelphia catcher Darren Daulton. Both players were among the ejected.
"You've got to do what you've got to do," Gooden, who charged the mound after being hit above the left knee by the soon-to-be ejected Combs, told Newsday. "He didn't even wait for the sign. It was obvious."
It wasn't the first time these teams have had problems. At the end of last season, they got into a bench-clearing brawl that started after the final out of a Phillies 5-3 victory when New York's Gregg Jefferies charged the mound and tangled with former Mets reliever Roger McDowell, who had been traded to Philadelphia three months earlier. During that incident, Strawberry and Daulton had an exchange.
Tempers flared again Wednesday when Philadelphia left-hander Don Carman threw a pitch over the head of Mets pitcher David Cone. But on Thursday neither side held back, with Gooden charging Combs, Combs tackling Gooden, and Daulton jumping onto the pile and hitting Gooden. Combs left the field with a cut over his nose.
In addition to the main event, undercard bouts featured Mets catcher Mackey Sasser sitting atop and swinging at Philadelphia pitcher Jose DeJesus, and Strawberry charging at Daulton before being tackled by the Phillies' Von Hayes.
"It was obvious to us that Combs hit Gooden on purpose," Marsh told the Associated Press. "But, as for the other ejections, we simply picked off the guys who we feel encouraged the fight the most."
Although Strawberry and Teufel left the clubhouse before talking to reporters, other participants were open about their intentions.
"Daulton was the guy we most wanted," said Gooden, who hit Dickie Thon with a pitch in the second inning and Tommy Herr in the fifth. "We learned that about him last year."
Said Daulton: "I knew he would be coming after me after last year."
Such incidents apparently are difficult to put aside. After learning of the five-game suspension handed down by Brown in July, Trebelhorn said the announcement caused "irreparable harm to my psyche," and made him feel like an outcast on his own team.
"I'll never be the same," Trebelhorn said.
The Mets and Phillies have about a month to calm down before they renew their rivalry Sept. 7-9 in Philadelphia. On Sept. 14-16, the teams will play a series in New York.