Minor league manager loses cool, fined, suspended


LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Once the umpire called Roger Clemens' kid
safe, a minor league manager threw a major league tantrum that
would have made Lou Piniella, Earl Weaver and Tommy Lasorda proud.

It also cost Asheville Tourists manager Joe Mikulik a seven-day
suspension and $1,000 fine.

Mikulik, who used to write "Never Surrender" on his wristbands when he played in the minors, put on a throwing, kicking and screaming show Sunday that was
still the talk of baseball a day later.

The South Atlantic League also spent a lot of time talking about
his antics and penalized him Monday night.

"I expected to be fined and suspended," Mikulik told the Asheville Citizen-Times. "I accept it and I will take it like a man. I respect Mr. [league president John Henry] Moss and I understand he had to take action."

"This is not about Joe or the umpires; it is about player development," Colorado Marc Gustafson, the Rockies' director of player development, told the Citizen-Times. "This has happened and now it is time to move on. We're going to back Joe because he is a great guy who is an asset to his community and then organization. This is an isolated incident."

Asheville is a farm club for the Rockies.

"This ain't my first rodeo. ... I didn't touch anybody. I never bumped anybody. ... I actually cleaned home plate for them, so they should give me a tip for that."
Asheville Tourists manager Joe Mikulik

Upset that umpire Andy Russell called Clemens safe at second
base in the fifth inning of Asheville's 5-2 loss, Mikulik rushed
onto the field. He made a headfirst dive into second base and later
pulled up the bag -- taking a few tugs to get it done -- before
throwing it into right field.

By the time he got ejected, Mikulik was just getting warmed up.
And by the time he was done, he had thrown a resin bag, several
bats and blocked the umpires' locker room.

"I don't think I ever lost total control, though it may look
like it," Mikulik told the Citizen-Times earlier Monday. "It
was just frustration, and I obviously went a little bit too far. I
apologize to fans and to the umpires for my actions, and I regret
what happened."

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Kenny Lofton played with Mikulik
in the Houston organization, and watched television highlights of
the tirade his former teammate put on after Lexington's Koby
Clemens was called safe at second base on a pickoff try.

"He was crazy," Lofton said, laughing hard before Monday
night's game at Minnesota. "Whoo. When I saw it, I was like, 'OK,
that's something that he had in him.' That explosiveness. I didn't
know he was going to do all that.

"He had a lot of intensity, boy. Whoo. It wasn't bad. He was
just ready to go. That's how he was. When I saw that, I was like,
'Well, it just finally came out,'" he said.

Piniella, Weaver and Lasorda were famed for their wild arguments
with umpires. Mikulik's antics were equally volatile.

Mikulik tossed the resin bag into the bullpen, covered home
plate with dirt and cleaned it with a water bottle, which he
finally spiked onto the plate.

Back in the dugout, he threw a bunch of bats onto the field,
enough to send a batboy ducking for cover.

In the clubhouse, Mikulik pushed a couple of water coolers, a
chair and a batting practice screen in front of the umpires' locker

Along the way, he kept yelling at the umps, who calmly listened
to his tirade.

"I could get two mannequins at Sears and umpire better than
what I saw this whole series," he told the Lexington

"I thought the strike was over," Mikulik said. "When will the
real umpires show up? That's what I want to know."

The regular minor league umpires began the season on strike, and
returned earlier this month.

After the game, Mikulik said he wasn't concerned about his
actions and had spoken to Moss.

"I already talked to John Henry, I've got that covered," he
said. "This ain't my first rodeo. ... I didn't touch anybody. I
never bumped anybody. ... I actually cleaned home plate for them,
so they should give me a tip for that."

Colorado pitcher Aaron Cook played for Mikulik at Asheville in

"It was kind of entertaining," Cook said. "Will he get fired
from the Rockies? Naw, I don't think so. Right now, it's getting a
lot of publicity, but probably about a month from now, nobody will
remember it happened."

Rockies shortstop Clint Barmes also played for Mikulik.

"I've seen it happen a few times -- maybe not to that extent --
but he's had a few pretty exciting events when he'd gotten thrown
out of games," Barmes said. "It's been balls or bats or something
like that, and obviously he can get in an umpire's face."

Rockies officials declined to comment Monday before the team's
game against the Angels in Anaheim.

Now in his seventh year of managing Asheville, Mikulik was a
career minor league outfielder who never made it to the majors.

In 1991, Mikulik's hit in the bottom of the ninth inning gave
Tucson a victory over Calgary in the deciding game of the Pacific
Coast League championship series. Lofton was on base at the time.

"This was nothing new about him being intense. He loved the
game. He wanted to play every day. He had the same intensity every
day," Lofton said. "If he didn't play, he was mad, because he
wanted to play. That's how he was. And he loved baseball, boy. He'd
live and die for it."

"That's just his nature. You'd see him after the game, you know
at dinner or lunch or something, he was just hyped. Just ready. He
was just wired that way. Some people are," he said. "I'm wired,
but he had me beat. I'm always moving and fidgeting, too, but he
had me beat. He was a good guy. It's just funny to see."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.