Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens was suspended yesterday by American League President Bobby Brown for the first five games of next season and fined $10,000 for the incident that resulted in his ejection from Game 4 of the AL Championship Series.
Clemens, who stands to lose a little more than $77,000 of his $2.5 million salary next season, will appeal through the Major League Baseball Players Association, according to MLBPA Associate General Counsel Gene Orza.
Orza said he spoke to Clemens's agents, Alan Hendricks and Randy Hendricks, yesterday, and although he did not speak to Clemens, "I know his feelings on the matter."
Brown will hear the appeal, so Orza said he expects to take the case to Commissioner Fay Vincent. "This matter won't go away," Orza said.
"We feel it's totally excessive," Alan Hendricks told the Boston Globe. "We hope to get a fair hearing. I have not talked to a person in America who didn't feel like Clemens didn't deserve a warning. People's minds were blown by this."
Clemens could not be reached for comment.
He was ejected during the second inning of what became the ALCS's final game, when the Oakland Athletics won, 3-1, to complete a sweep of the best-of-seven-game series.
The incident began with Clemens complaining to home plate umpire Terry Cooney about ball and strike calls. Cooney then ejected Clemens, igniting a full-blown confrontation between the two. Another umpire, crew chief Jim Evans, attempted to intervene, and Clemens shoved him.
Before leaving the field, Clemens reportedly threatened Cooney, allegedly telling him: "I'm going to find out where you live and come get you this winter." Clemens then continued his tantrum in the dugout, delaying his required departure to the clubhouse.
In a statement, Brown cited Clemens for "making significant physical contact with an umpire, for threatening umpire Cooney, for verbally abusing umpire Cooney with personal obscenities and for not leaving the dugout immediately after the ejection."
Red Sox General Manager Lou Gorman said he thinks the penalties are "a little bit severe, but there's not much we can do about it."
Orza bitterly criticized Brown's decision. "It's unfortunate that umpiring crews are taking on a bigger role than they should in the game," he said. "Bobby was confronted with the opportunity to send a signal and he chose to send precisely the wrong signal. This is precisely the wrong form of discipline. It was wrong to discipline the player at all."
Richie Phillips, general counsel of the Major League Umpires Association, said he doesn't think Clemens merited a suspension for yelling obscenities at Cooney, "and I took that position with Bobby." But for the overall severity of the incident he called the penalties "appropriate."
He said, "The umpire's role is to maintain order and discipline. It's irresponsible to advocate anarchy on the field. . . . There has to be a deterrent for the kind of behavior, and I'm pleased that Bobby responded with a penalty that I think will serve as a deterrent."