Tag Archives: Oakland Athletics

Oakland’s One Clap is One Too Many for Some Members of the Yankees

When one plays for the Yankees, who not so long ago were cruising toward the playoffs but who suddenly find themselves desperately trying to keep the Orioles at bay, one can get touchy during the course of getting one’s butt kicked by the team with the American League’s lowest payroll.

At least Eric Chavez did. After New York’s 10-9 win in 14 innings at Yankee Stadium Saturday, he told the New York Post that, following each of Oakland’s three homers in the 13th inning, A’s players partook in some “orchestrated clapping, chanting,” which Chavez described as “high school-ish,” “pretty unprofessional” and something “that crossed the line.”

The antics were described in the San Jose Mercury News:

The routine the A’s did is based on the Randy Moss-related “One Clap” song and video clip that was all the rage on YouTube. Gomes often played that song during spring training, and he said the A’s have done the routine all season in the clubhouse and on the team bus.

Somebody yells “One Clap!” and teammates respond with a clap.

The reason it should not have troubled Chavez, said Jonny Gomes, “is it happened in our dugout. It didn’t happen between the lines.” (To judge by the TV replays, which are far from comprehensive, it’s difficult to discern anything objectionable happening in the A’s dugout on the first, second or third home runs of the inning.)

For Chavez to get riled about such a thing is a tad ironic. When he was a young player with the A’s—playing the Yankees, no less—he learned a difficult lesson about speaking out a bit too quickly about the opposing nine.

From The Baseball Codes:

Nearly as innocent were the comments made by A’s third baseman Eric Chavez before his team faced the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2000 ALDS. Responding to a press-conference question about his opponents, who had won the previous two titles, Chavez talked about how great the Yankees had been in recent years, what a terrific job they’d done, and how difficult it was to win as consistently as they had. He also added that they’d “won enough times,” and that it would be okay for somebody else to play in the World Series for a change. Chavez was twenty-two years old, wide-eyed and hopeful. There was nothing malicious in his tone.

Unfortunately for the A’s, the press conference at which Chavez was speaking was being broadcast live on the Oakland Coliseum scoreboard for early-arriving fans. Also watching were the Yankees, on the field for batting practice. “So he’s dropping the past tense on us? Did you see that?” spat third baseman Scott Brosius from the batting cage. One New York player after another—Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams— took Chavez’s comments and blew them up further. The Yankees hardly needed additional motivation, but now they had it. Their first three hitters of the game reached base, four batters in they had the lead, and by the end of the frame it was 6–0. The A’s were in a hole from which they could not climb out before they even had a chance to bat.

How one feels about this apparently depends on the dugout in which one happens to sit. The day after Oakland’s one-clap hysteria, Nick Swisher responded by hitting a home run for New York, then lingering for a beat in the batter’s box to admire it. (Watch it here.) Asked about it in the Post, he said, “Like Jonny Gomes says, what’s the hurry?”

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Filed under Don't Call out Opponents in the Press

Owner Gets Ornery: Wilpon Clamors for Mets Retaliation

Brad Ziegler can't believe he just hit Justin Turner.

It started on Wednesday, when Mets second baseman Justin Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 13th inning, driving home the winning run against the A’s. The problem with the play, as far as the A’s were concerned, was that Turner made no effort to avoid the pitch, which barely grazed his jersey. (Watch it here.)

Whether this had any bearing in what happened next is uncertain,  but in Turner’s first at-bat Thursday, A’s right-hander Graham Godfrey hit him in the leg—something seen by many in the New York clubhouse as clear retaliation.

There are many problems with this scenario, primary among them being the written rules of the game. Rule 6.08(b)(2) says that a batter takes first base after being hit by a pitch unless he “makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.” Turner rotated his torso—barely—which was apparently enough for plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. And in a situation like this, if the umpire has no beef, the opposition shouldn’t, either.

Perhaps it was an attempt by new A’s manager Bob Melvin to set a tone with the team. (Unlikely.) Or maybe it was Godfrey, all of three games into his big league career, trying to establish some bona fides in the Oakland clubhouse. (He’s no stranger to hitting guys, having done so 38 times over four-plus minor league seasons.)

Or maybe it was strictly incidental, no more than a case of rookie nerves or a pitch that got away. This is how the Mets treated it, opting to ignore the incident and get on with what would be a 4-1 victory.

One guy, however, was less than pleased. According to ESPN New York, Jeff Wilpon—the team’s COO, and son of owner Fred—took to the team’s clubhouse following the game and admonished his players for their timidity. He said, according to the New York Times, that he would cover pitchers’ fines for such actions. Unlike the ominous tone set by ESPN, the Times called Wilpon’s interaction “playful.”

No matter how he meant it, this is a dangerous road to travel. There’s a reason that modern managers and coaches tend to shy away from directly ordering retaliatory action. They don’t want to be responsible for unforeseen consequences, and they—having all played the game at various professional levels—understand that most big league pitchers understand appropriate retaliatory tactics (and that if they don’t, their teammates will inevitably instruct them in such).

Jeff Wilpon primarily supervises the construction of buildings, in his role as executive vice president of his father’s real estate company. He is not a baseball man, at least to the point at which he has any business ordering his players to do anything on the field. He clearly likes the gunslinger mentality of retaliating for retaliation’s sake, but hasn’t likely considered the negative repercussions. Should the A’s respond to Wilpon’s response, the likely target would shift from Turner to somebody like Jose Reyes or David Wright.

Picture for a moment Reyes getting sidelined for six weeks due to a cracked rib suffered at the wrong end of a retaliatory fastball—disabling him straight through the trade deadline.

Leave retaliation to the pros, Mr. Wilpon. You just put a target on your team, as far as any examination the league might take when it comes to any future bad exchanges of bad blood.

Also realize that in 1998, your manager was suspended while at the helm of the Angels for his part in retaliating against Kansas City after Royals infielder Felix Martinez sucker-punched Anaheim’s Frank Bolick during a game.

Terry Collins is able to recognize retaliation-worthy offenses. Let him. Stay in the owner’s box, where you belong.

- Jason

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Filed under Jeff Wilpon, Retaliation