Written By Daniel Steele
This was a great weekend for anger-management trainers, and a bad one for proponents of such virtues as self-control and professionalism. Milton Bradley (in a tandem with umpire Eric Winters) and DeAngelo Hall seemed a little touchy. Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy, who we'll discuss in a subsequent post, took it to another level.
* The Padres are probably going to miss the playoffs because of what went down among Bradley, Winters, manager Bud Black and first base coach Bobby Meacham. Has a player-umpire confrontation ever done so much damage? The only one that comes to mind is the Roberto Alomar spitting incident, and that damaged Alomar's image more than anything. It didn't affect the pennant race; the Orioles already were locked into a playoff berth (which tells you how long ago it happened). It's interesting to note, though, that both the Alomar case and the blow-up in San Diego involve allegations of umpire name-calling. It's just as interesting that the reaction by fans and others has been that no matter what vile thing Winters is accused of saying to Bradley (Meacham, the coach, backed up Bradley's story), it's all Bradley's fault for taking the alleged bait, a textbook case of the victim's reputation preceding him. If Bradley is Ron Artest, then Winters appears to be a combination of Ben Wallace and the fan who threw the cup.
Meanwhile, manager Bud Black has to be a basket case by now. He was only doing his job, trying to keep his player from bum-rushing the ump and getting suspended -- and he ends up wrenching the guy's knee. It's a miracle, actually, that it hasn't happened more often, the way some players and coaches have to be restrained sometimes -- and how often umps keep arguments going long after they should have ended. OK, it's another one of those dumb baseball traditions, umpires and managers/players going eye-to-eye and saliva gland-to-saliva gland. But it's completely unacceptable from both sides in every other sport known to man -- and thus, there are no other incidents that come to mind of someone blowing out an ACL arguing with an ump.
Bottom line: Bradley should get a refund for the anger-management classes he took a few years ago; Winters, the ump, should sign up for some of his own, and Black should work on his footwork and leverage for next time he's wrestling one of his own players.
* If what DeAngelo Hall did on Sunday in Atlanta when his Falcons lost to Carolina has ever been matched -- he was personally responsible for 67 penalty yards on one possession, including two personal fouls -- I beg you to let me know here. And it happened to be on the drive on which Carolina tied the game and never looked back. Plus, all the penalties were against wideout Steve Smith, and the last one was, basically, for running his mouth too much after the play was over -- a third-down play that was about to force Carolina to try a long field goal, but instead kept the drive alive.
And, as Smith himself described the so-called "trash talk,'' "They were real minute ... just real immature stuff.'' Take his word for it, he's an expert in the field.
Now, talking stuff per se is not a problem, especially if it's good stuff and a player can back it up. Hall usually scores on both counts. He was, in fact, backing it up against Smith that day, until that drive. Then, a 37-yard interference call. Then a cheap shot on Smith at the line of scrimmage away from the ball. Then the mouthing off to Smith as he left the field.
Now, new coach Bobby Petrino plans to discipline Hall, and he hashed out ideas with his veterans, which tells you that it isn't just Petrino who's mad about this. Hall buried his own teammates by getting caught up in some stupid personal feud that could have been settled by a bunch of pithy quotes in the locker room after the game.
Bottom line: looks like the Falcons didn't get all the poison out of their locker room when Michael Vick was sent up the river.
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