Managers suspended 2 games apiece for spat

Updated: June 4, 2004, 9:38 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa were each suspended for two games Friday after getting into a shouting match during a game that caused both benches to empty.

McClendon and La Russa also were fined undisclosed amounts by Bob Watson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations.

La Russa was set to begin his suspension Friday night. McClendon, whose team played an afternoon game Friday, was to begin his suspension Saturday.

La Russa said before Friday's game against Houston that he was surprised the ruling came so quickly. He said a committee of coaches, led by pitching coach Dave Duncan, would manage in his absence.

"I thought what would happen was before anybody made a decision that they would look at the videotape, they would look at all the pitches thrown at Cardinals, they would ask for the Pirates' side and the Cardinals' side and then make a decision," La Russa said. "That's not how it went."

La Russa criticized Major League Baseball for not letting the players settle disputes on the field.

"I think it's really bad business," La Russa said. "But I also think Major League Baseball is not really attacking the problem of pitches up and in in the best way that they should."

Both managers were ejected with two outs in the top of the ninth inning in St. Louis' 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday after Pirates reliever Mike Gonzalez sent Tony Womack to the dirt with a high, inside pitch.

Before Gonzalez's next pitch, La Russa yelled at him. That prompted McClendon to storm out of his team's dugout and head toward the Cardinals' dugout to confront La Russa.

Plate umpire Brian Gorman and first-base umpire Dale Scott tried to restrain McClendon. La Russa came onto the field, and the umpires stood between the managers as they exchanged heated words along the first-base line near the Cardinals' dugout.

"I think I'll try to be the corporate guy or whatever you want to call it. I'm labeled as a bad guy. But I don't see how the fine fits the crime, so to speak," McClendon said after Friday's game.

"I guess what you're supposed to do now from this precedent here is when the opposing manager berates your players, you should just sit there and not say a damn thing and allow your team to lose respect for you and for them to know that you're not going to fight for them and stand up for them," he said.

"So I'll serve my suspension and I'll root for my players and I'll be ready to go when this thing is over with," he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press