Braves can’t go lightly on discipline for McDowell, Lowe

Roger McDowell has helped Braves' pitchers but that won't help him now. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Roger McDowell has helped Braves' pitchers but that won't help him now. (Jason Getz/AJC)

(Originally posted: 3:11 p.m. Updated throughout: 7:15 p.m.)

For the past two days, the Braves have been a staple on TMZ, with storylines about a coach’s alleged homophobia and a pitcher’s alleged drunk driving and street racing. Suddenly, they sit uncomfortably in the same talk show green room with Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen and, “Sara Evans’ Ex: She Surrounds Our Kids with Drugs!”

And you thought Dan Uggla hitting .180 was a concern.

Derek Lowe has been charged with DUI and reckless driving. He allegedly was racing his Porsche through Buckhead Thursday night. This came a day after pitching coach Roger McDowell was accused of spewing anti-gay slurs and inappropriate comments to some fans at a recent game in San Francisco.

Lowe was at Turner Field Friday night and apologized. He will make his scheduled start Sunday, the Braves rationalizing that decision with the standard explanation of letting the legal process run its course (perhaps down Peachtree).

McDowell was not at the stadium. He has been placed on “administrative leave,” which doesn’t sound any worse than maternity leave. I guess the Braves don’t want to use the word “suspension” yet. At the very least, we can be certain Lowe won’t be driving McDowell to sensitivity classes.

Now, does any of this mean the Braves’ franchise is morphing into something between the Cincinnati Bengals and “Celebrity Rehab”? Hardly.

But it would be nice to see both the team and Major League Baseball take these matters seriously, rather than merely dismiss them with players, general managers and coaches making contrite statements and explaining that everybody makes mistakes, so let’s just move on.

I’m not trying to bury Lowe and McDowell. I’m not suggesting they be thrown out of baseball. But how is it that MLB allows Cincinnati pitcher Mike Leake to make a start two days after he’s arrested for shoplifting? And yes, while Lowe will get his due process — and likely eventually will plea his charges down to something resembling an expensive parking ticket — isn’t it just a little weird that he will take the mound Sunday, three days after being arrested and spending the night in jail?

Did Lowe ever consider skipping his start?

“No,” he said.

The Braves and MLB are moving slowly with McDowell. That’s understandable. There are multiple witnesses. Details are varied. One of the parties has turned this into a sideshow, bringing his 9-year-old twin daughters to a news conference the other day as props. He also has hired noted attorney Gloria Allred, who is fresh off representing a porn star and a kindergarten teacher for scoldings of Tiger Woods.

That woman has headline GPS.

But we know something happened because McDowell already has admitted, “I apologize to everyone for my actions.” Those aren’t the words of an innocent man.

He needs to be hit with a suspension, and hit hard. The absolute minimum: 30 games without pay, a significant fine and court-mandated Saying Stupid Things Rehab. If even half what has been alleged is true, most of us would be fired.

Commissioner Bud Selig just suspended Ozzie Guillen two games for Tweeting. Is he really going to go lightly on McDowell?

General manager Frank Wren was predictably guarded Friday. They are still sorting out details, and he acknowledged, “The commissioner is taking the lead on this.”

When asked if there was any chance McDowell could lose his job, Wren said: “I’m not going to get into any final determination of anything at this point.”

Asked the same question, manager Fredi Gonzalez said: “No, and it shouldn’t.”

Fredi didn’t get the memo.

This isn’t merely about us living in politically correct times. Baseball is still dealing with the beating of a Giants fan in Los Angeles. The NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 for homophobic slurs. Feelings are a bit raw.

The Braves recognize their brand has been damaged. They haven’t been hit like this since John Rocker spoke so eloquently about the 7 Train to Flushing.

Said Lowe, “It’s been a rough couple of days for this organization and clearly I have a lot to do with that.”

He does. And such actions should not go unpunished.

By Jeff Schultz

Last few posts

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Falcons pick right time to make big move, get Julio Jones

Playoff hangover driving Dimitroff, Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

251 comments Add your comment

FJR

April 29th, 2011
3:14 pm

Pretty much signals that if they find anything he’s fired. If it’s inconclusive, he’ll just be suspended for responding at all to the fans.

The Bream Team

April 29th, 2011
3:18 pm

Jeff, can you provide some background on Dave Wallace?

The Bream Team

April 29th, 2011
3:21 pm

Is anyone going to tweet the comment from this press conference?

Kevin

April 29th, 2011
3:23 pm

Who is making the call on this one? Liberty Media? Wren? Cox? Who will get the final say?

Kevin

April 29th, 2011
3:24 pm

I am not sure Freddie was expecting these kinds of off field destractions when he got the job. He is having a rough first month. At least the team is playing better.

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 29th, 2011
3:25 pm

I think we should wait until the facts are in, before we make a judgement. Admittedly, I haven’t followed this closely but the things I’ve heard, all came from one source.

Joey

April 29th, 2011
3:27 pm

Sounds like fork-stickin’ time…..

Frank Wren

April 29th, 2011
3:28 pm

I’ll be available folks once I stop cussing and we’ve guessed that to be around 4 PM.
Hope we’re right or I might have to suspend myself.
ha ha ha ha.

John

April 29th, 2011
3:28 pm

midtownguy

April 29th, 2011
3:28 pm

If he made the statements and gestures being reported on “less polite and family-friendly” sites than the AJC, then he should be fired.

Big Bad

April 29th, 2011
3:28 pm

Jeff, what do you think should happen to both Roger and D. Lowe?

NCBravesFan

April 29th, 2011
3:29 pm

Just a guess – more witnesses are coming forward (in SF and perhaps even elsewhere?) and need to be interviewed. The administrative leave is a good move in the meantime – it pushes the issue to the sidelines and gets people focused on the games.

Jeff: I heard Quinn filed a police report Saturday. Are the SF Police still investigating?

JAE

April 29th, 2011
3:29 pm

Sounds like Charlie Sheen should have hung out with the Braves instead of Tech last week, they could’ve used some of his wisdom right about now…

twosidesto everything

April 29th, 2011
3:30 pm

How come no one is asking what was said to him from the bleachers? Should he have done what he did, No. But I don’t think he would just turn around and say those things without being razzed into it. Suspend him with or without pay, take the anger management class, and move on. May be ballparks should do a better job of controlling their fans. ALL ballparks not just San Fran.

Boswanger

April 29th, 2011
3:31 pm

Hillbilly, you got it. Last time I checked, it was a mighty thin pancake that did not have two sides to it.
Sounds like he said, she said, but his apology must signal he did something. So out of character for a professional who has done an outstanding job. We really don’t need this right now. If he actually did it in front of kids, then well, but those kids reading prepared statements…..lets get the facts before we through a guy and his career under the bus.

The Bream Team

April 29th, 2011
3:31 pm

Jeff, why are all the tickets for Saturday games this season in excess of $20, unless you sit high enough to see over the top of the Dome?

Whats Important

April 29th, 2011
3:31 pm

If McDowell made the comments, especially in the presence of young children, then he should be suspended and made to take the currently popular “anger management” classes. However, whenever I hear the name Gloria Allred my gag reflex kicks in the I assume that whoever has hired that publicity addicted hack has to be some sort of a sleaze bag. If you need a lawyer, get a good one, not one who is on retainer to TMZ.

Big Bad

April 29th, 2011
3:33 pm

I agree with Bream Team. Whats up with that? No wonder attendance is slightly off.

Big Bad

April 29th, 2011
3:34 pm

I’m planning on coming up to the game tomorrow with friends and we best not see anyone from GLAAD or any other “special interest” group outside protesting. They may get their feelings hurt.

lanier

April 29th, 2011
3:35 pm

Bream Team you show know the answer. Its so they can get all the school kids allowance

FJR

April 29th, 2011
3:36 pm

Boswanger,

The main reason this pancake doesn’t have two sides to it is because all anybody has heard from McDowell is “I’m sorry I did some things”

Roger doesn’t have a side at this point because he hasn’t given one. I can tell you that as an attorney, his statement reads exactly like a boilerplate for “he did most of what was alleged, but he’s not sure yet what can be proven, so his lawyer doesn’t want him to admit to anything.”

If you know you didn’t do it, you deny. You only give vague apologies when you did it, but aren’t sure what can be proven. See Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi’s apologies, respectively.

JIMBOB (aka James Robert)

April 29th, 2011
3:39 pm

Free Rodger!

FJR

April 29th, 2011
3:39 pm

it’s also slightly skewed reporting that the AJC articles keep only referencing the gay slurs. There is also the issue of the threats to fans, those are perhaps even more problematic if true.

MDawg

April 29th, 2011
3:40 pm

It appears pretty obvious Roger said and did some things he shouldn’t have done, but it’s also pretty obvious by looking at the “victim” that he is just out to get his 15 minutes of fame and cash in on this unfortunate event. Fine or suspend him, and get over it.

Braves 2011

April 29th, 2011
3:40 pm

I think it was a Yahoo article that pointed out attendance dropping the last three years.
Braves attendance is down and these two incidents will not help.
Two lowest attended games at the Ted right before the road trip started.
Prediction: if the Braves can’t stay within range of the Phillies. it will get a lot worse.
A chance at the wildcard may not help if fans decide team is substandard and can’t beat the Phils.
Fans around the country are concluding MLB is a waste of money if only a few rich teams get a shot at a championship.
Good one Derek.
Wat to show some leadership when we need it.

The Bream Team

April 29th, 2011
3:41 pm

Dave Wallace appears to have been pitching coach for the Dodgers back in the day. Was also pitching coach on the 2004 Red Sox team.

Whats Important

April 29th, 2011
3:42 pm

FJR if you are in fact an attorney, hopefully you work in the corporate arena somewhere down the yellow brick road and not in criminal law. You never admit anything. You apologize for the fact that the other person obviously misunderstood you. You forgot someone in your examples by the way. Roger Clemens who denied everything. So much for complete denials. if you think by being ambigious you are guilty and by being an outright liar you are innocent, you are confused.

Pitched-out

April 29th, 2011
3:44 pm

Maybe McDowell and Lowe can get together and go cry in their Beers!

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2011
3:45 pm

Just so you know folks, I’m adding to this blog as we go and I’ll rewrite completely after speaking to Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez. So keep checking back. Thanks, J.

midtownguy

April 29th, 2011
3:46 pm

It doesn’t matter what the fans said. He is the professional and the one wearing the Braves uniform. He has to be the one who controls his mouth, not the fans. Heckling fans come with the job.

That said, why does he have an attorney? And Gloria Allred none the less. I think he plans for the Braves organization to send his girls to college. Could he come down here to midtown and say some nasty, homophobic things to me? I need help paying off my mortgage.

FJR

April 29th, 2011
3:50 pm

@whatsimportant

You completely missed my point. When you are in fact innocent, you don’t make vague apologies, you deny everything. That doesn’t mean that if you are guilty you don’t deny everything as well. You’re doing what we call confusing a necessary condition with a sufficient condition.

Think of it this way:

innocent -> Deny
no deny -> no innocent

These statements DO NOT SAY

guilty -> no deny

which is what you were saying I said.

to summarize. When you are actually innocent you deny. End of story. When you are guilty but unsure of what can be proven, vague cryptic statements. If you are guilty and believe that they can’t prove anything, you deny (Roger Clemens). Can you think of a case where someone turned out to be innocent and only gave vague, cryptic apologies without denying?

The Bream Team

April 29th, 2011
3:53 pm

What’s the latest on us acquiring a right-handed bat for the bench?

iTiSi

April 29th, 2011
3:54 pm

I don’t even watch the NBA anymore because of its “thug mentality” and it won’t take but one more thing for me to drop the Braves “like a hot potato”. Many will not agree because the drug known as alcohol is so acceptable, and yes, legal, but IMHO what Lowe did is much worse than what McDowell did. Lowe was putting his life, and others, in jeopardy. There is no difference in what he did than walking down the street firing a gun randomly. His penalty should be much harsher than McDowell’s.

bowman

April 29th, 2011
3:55 pm

WWBD. Much of the emphasis the past few months has been the transition of on-the-field leadership and how the team would be managed differently under Gonzalez than Cox. A loss of professionalism may lead to further downfall. Maybe the team should be wearing wristbands with WWBD. What would Bobby do? Time for leadership to demonstrate that this remains a first-class organization. Adios McDowell. Penance, and perhaps rehab, for Lowe, even before legal issues are untangled.

bowman
– -
“Art will always be Art.” – Goethe

Mitchell

April 29th, 2011
3:56 pm

1st!

Oh, no. Guess I’m not.

Braves 2011

April 29th, 2011
3:57 pm

Seriously I think he could have saved us this mess with a simple apology and a baseball for each little girl. It’s the dad who is the main problem.
The gay guys might have thought him funny but given the chance to pile on…
They might like that piling on. lol.

FJR

April 29th, 2011
3:58 pm

I was sort of happy that I derailed the whole first thing with a semi-substantive first response.

Andrew

April 29th, 2011
4:01 pm

Sad to see this happen. When I first saw the story I thought, “Yeah right,” but it looks like this is legit. Normally, “Administrative Leave” is code for “we want to fire this guy, but he’s under contract and we need to find a loophole.” My money says Roger is gone by the end of the weekend.

That said, I don’t think the braves will really lose a step with their pitching. Wallace worked with most of the current crop of pitchers for years in the minors. Probably the best fit they could have gotten considering the situation. And for all those saying, “Bring Leo Back!” Not gonna happen.

Braves 2011

April 29th, 2011
4:01 pm

Brighten up everyone.
We’re not Tuscaloosa or Ringgold.

Whats Important

April 29th, 2011
4:02 pm

FJR – I can think of cases where people confessed when they weren’t guilty. In the public arena however the main thrust of everything is to appease the “aggrieved party”. It would hardly be circumspect for McDowell to say in a public announcement that the “aggrieved party” was thin skinned and shouldn’t eavesdrop on his conversation with heckling fans. Therefore you appease by apologizing for “whatever I did that pissed you off.” But you have convinced me that you are in fact an attorney vis-a-vis your “circular logic.”

PTC DAWG

April 29th, 2011
4:02 pm

It is NOT complicated…it IS BS.

Joel

April 29th, 2011
4:02 pm

This is ridiculous. People quit being so sensitive. Cmon, he said it he apologized, move on. He doesn’t need sensitivity or anger management. He needs a swift kick in the butt. It seems like that is what he got. Now lets play baseball! Who knows? Maybe he was offering to buy the guy’s teeth.

Mitchell

April 29th, 2011
4:02 pm

Really, is there anything wrong with being on TMZ, if in fact they are?

I’m not endorsing their actions, it’s just this team is generally such a bore and have been forever even when they were winning 100 games a year.

At least we’re giving people something to talk about.

I mean, we basically were the best national league team all of summer in 2010 but by the time we got to the playoffs it was like we didn’t deserve to be there in many pundits’ eyes.

Many Pundits’ Eyes… great band by the way. Totally underrated. You guys gotta check ‘em out.

That’s a joke by the way. They’re no band named many pundits’ eyes.

Be cool if there was though, am I right?

david

April 29th, 2011
4:03 pm

Jeffy:

Are the Braves going to bring a certain person from 790 as the new pitching coach?

TommyJack

April 29th, 2011
4:04 pm

Scolded, yes. Fired, don’t be ridiculous.

Bawney Fwank

April 29th, 2011
4:04 pm

What are they going to do to the rowdy San Francisco, so called fans, that were cussing and making obscene and heterophobic comments and gestures while McDowell was trying to do his job, that started the whole incident?

Gloria Allred

April 29th, 2011
4:10 pm

Mr. Schultz,

Exactly what do you mean by your phrase “certainly can’t be done in San Francisco”.

Going forward with my class action lawsuit for assuming the worst with what you meant hangs in the balance.

FJR

April 29th, 2011
4:13 pm

whats important

Do you even know what circular logic is? I think you seem to be confusing a contrapositive statement with circular logic.

If you’re Roger McDowell and you absolutely didn’t make gay slurs and you absolutely did not threaten to bash the fans teeth in and you aboslutely didn’t say “kids don’t belong at the F’ing ballpark” then you say that. You say:

“While I deeply regret getting involved with heckiling fans in teh first place, I want to make absolutely clear that I, in no way shape or form, used a gay slur, threatened a fan or implied that children should not attend MLB ballgames. Again, I realize that the best course of action would have been to simply alert stadium sercurity, and I apologize for that. However, I did not do any of the specific actions that I am accused of and I want to make it clear that I, in no way, shape or form agree with those statements. What was accused of me was dispicable and I completely deny saying them.”

You do not say “I’m sorry for doing some things.” unless you did at least some of what you are accused of and don’t know what can be proven.

TheBlueIndian.com

April 29th, 2011
4:15 pm

Gloria Allred: That’s hilarious. I was thinking the same thing. I’m sure Schultzie will get a kick out of that comment.

MLH

April 29th, 2011
4:15 pm

So I guy can get fired for just responding to heckling fans, yet a player gets behind a wheel drunk, dangering the lives of other people, and his job will not be in jeopardy? Strange society we live in.