It was an incident that hurt both the Red Sox and baseball's image. In last week's fourth and final game of the American League playoff between Boston and Oakland, Red Sox ace Roger Clemens was ejected in the second inning by home plate umpire Terry Cooney. The Rocket shook his head after walking a batter, and Cooney shouted to him, "You better not be shaking your head at me." Whereupon Clemens unleashed several choice words that historically have resulted in a player's ejection. Whereupon Cooney tossed Clemens.
Much subsequent discussion focused on whether Cooney should have ejected Clemens from such an important game without issuing a warning. Certainly Cooney should not have instigated a near riot, which he did because of his haste in thumbing Clemens. The umpire's job is to control the game, but nowadays far too many umps react to the slightest provocation. The commissioner's office should address this before signing a labor agreement with the umpires' association this winter.
As for Clemens, his control problem is not one involving balls and strikes. The day before the season ended, he punched a door with his pitching hand in an argument with team officials over the matter of when to allow reporters into the Boston clubhouse. Clemens pitched six shutout innings in the first playoff game with Oakland but ignored the press afterward. The next night he screamed at home plate umpire John Hirschbeck and then threw a roll of tape and a towel against the dugout wall. Later in the game, Clemens taunted A's pitcher Bob Welch, a recovering alcoholic, about Welch's drinking problem, and when manager Joe Morgan told him to lay off, Clemens turned on Morgan. During Game 3, Clemens bellowed from the dugout after disagreeing with a close call by Cooney at first. Perhaps it was just the postseason atmosphere. But by all appearances, Clemens's problems run deeper than simple stress.
Clemens has immense talent and a good reputation. His agent, Hendricks Management, should do all it can to protect those assets. Baseball needs The Rocket. Baseball also needs umpires who don't set off rockets.
Since its opening in 1929, Arizona Stadium has served an array of purposes in addition to its primary one as the home of University of Arizona football. The 56,136-seat building today contains student dorms, tree-ring-research and optics labs and a printing center. This fall, a stadium club restaurant was to open there as well, catering to football fans who paid a $150 membership fee. But trouble arose when another group of stadium residents began visiting the club without applying for membership.
Just before the Wildcats' home opener against Illinois on Sept. 8, the Pima County Health Board criticized the restaurant because the floor was covered with bat guano. Thousands of tiny bats inhabit the stadium, and some of them were found to be living in an expansion joint above the restaurant. University employees sprayed carbon dioxide into the crack hoping to force the bats out so the crack could be sealed. Instead, many of the bats were stunned and fell to their deaths. The next day a pest-controller was called in to spray a nontoxic, latex compound into the crack. The thinking here was that the leftover bats would go when they couldn't grip the coated concrete. There were further sprayings over the next two weeks, and at least one more bat died.
The baticide enraged Ronnie Sidner, a Ph.D. candidate in biology and ecology at Arizona and an expert on southwestern bats. Sidner was well acquainted with the stadium's bats, having once spent 50 straight evenings observing a falcon feeding on them. "Biologists don't get to see death take place in the wild very often," she says. In Sidner's view, while it's fine for a falcon to kill bats, it's another matter when people do so. In fact, bats are a protected species in Arizona, and killing them is a misdemeanor.
Sidner and another Tucson woman, Mary Schanz, who belongs to the 10,000-member Bat Conservation International, raised objections to the university's handling of the bat infestation. They claimed that more than 100 bats had died, while university officials have put the figure far lower. Last week the Arizona Game and Fish Department agreed with the women and brought a complaint to the county attorney's office that could lead to the university's being fined a maximum of $20,000 for each dead bat.