Roger McDowell: A good pitching coach is in deep trouble

Roger McDowell's accusers: The Quinns of Fresno, Calif. (AP photo)

McDowell's accusers: The Quinn family of Fresno, Calif., and attorney Gloria Allred. (AP photo)

Roger McDowell, who’s a very good pitching coach, is in deep trouble because he engaged a round of verbal volleying at AT&T Park over the weekend.  Four days later, McDowell has been forced to apologize and the Braves have been moved to offer a statement expressing “concern” and even Bud Selig has weighed in.

At the heart of McDowell’s side of the repartee is, according to a family being advised by the famous attorney Gloria Allred, a volley of anti-gay sentiment. The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was just fined $100,000 by the NBA for directing a gay slur at a referee during a game, but McDowell’s alleged outburst doesn’t seem a heat-of-the-moment thing.

For one thing, it apparently  took place before Saturday’s game. For another, it doesn’t appear to have been a one-time salvo. The Quinn family of Fresno, Calif., alleges that McDowell’s side of the dialogue went on for a while and involved physical threats and even the suggestive use of a bat.

Lest we forget, the Braves have been forced to answer for expressed intolerance before — after John Rocker’s infamous Sports Illustrated rant of December 1999. Bad as that was, it was basically just one loudmouth venting. These allegations are worse: At best they involve unprofessional behavior toward paying customers, and at worst they leave this organization open to the charge that its has a homophobe wearing its uniform.

In his apology, McDowell expressed his regret for responding “to the heckling fans” but offered no clue as to what bit of heckling might have served as a trigger. But what could anyone have said to warrant the sort of response the Quinns maintain McDowell offered?

Selig, the commissioner of baseball, released a statement saying “the allegations are very troubling to me.” Also, and ominously, he said: “After I have all the facts, I will make a determination of how to proceed.”

McDowell is alleged to have said: “Kids don’t belong at the [censored] ballpark.” That alone would be enough to make Selig spit out his soda. Hasn’t baseball spent the past century positioning itself as the game for families?

McDowell has done well in following the illustrious Leo Mazzone, and he’s considered a major asset by the Braves. That status is in peril. If these allegations are found to have merit, McDowell will be lucky to keep his job.

By Mark Bradley

351 comments Add your comment

Derek

April 27th, 2011
9:40 pm

Draggin Fly

April 27th, 2011
9:41 pm

Mark Bradley

April 27th, 2011
9:42 pm

First, Derek. And kudos.

D A DoubleU G

April 27th, 2011
9:43 pm

I hate this, but I actually feel you need to let him go.

Anti-gay slurs are the equivalent of racial slurs, and you bet your butt he would be let go for that.

I think the temporary replacement would be clear. He is currently a co-host on a morning radio show on 680 The Fan. I am not suggesting Leo Mazzone begin a new long career, but I think he would be willing to help out for the remainder of this season, and possibly even next.

I always supported you Roger, but if we do not let you go, this will be some serious PR we could do without. Cue the gay rights marches and demonstrations at Turner Field until action is taken…..

Braves Fan in Alaska

April 27th, 2011
9:44 pm

If Roger indeed behaved as is alleged, he should lose his job. Sorry.

D A DoubleU G

April 27th, 2011
9:45 pm

I don’t exactly remember the context in which he said it, but just the other week on my way to class, Leo Mazzone was talking on his morning show that there are times he REALLY misses being out there.

He just may get his wish in the next few days.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 27th, 2011
9:46 pm

He should have stuck to magic loogies.

MattyB

April 27th, 2011
9:46 pm

This is bad, bad, bad. Somebody call 680 The Fan and ask what the buyout is on Leo’s radio contract.

SportsPaige

April 27th, 2011
9:47 pm

why don’t know EXACTLY what was said to McDowell? Otherwise its made to look like nothing was said to provoke anything, that he just went on a tirade out of the blue. Let’s get an EXACT description on what was said or done to Roger. I agree that athletes and coaches should hold themselves in check, there is always a tipping point with everybody. And hiring Allred just shows these folks want a monetary payment and not so ‘concerned’ as they say they are. Just the times we live in I guess.

Bryan G.

April 27th, 2011
9:47 pm

Can we bring back John Rocker?

Mandingo

April 27th, 2011
9:47 pm

What an overpaid jerk. I believe I dont belong at the ballpark as long as this redneck is still a coach

Tucker T

April 27th, 2011
9:48 pm

This is very troubling. I find the behavior to be reprehensible. It’s a tough call on whether he should lose his job. The Braves have always represented themselves as a classy organization so part of me thinks he will get fired but the season just started with a new manager who is still somewhat unfamiliar with the pitching staff. If they do fire him, what do they do then?

'91 Baby

April 27th, 2011
9:48 pm

Honestly who cares? He’s a great coach who did something stupid. It was a one time offense I don’t think throwing the guy under the bus is a good reaction either. Leo is retired he isn’t coming back

Bright Idea

April 27th, 2011
9:49 pm

Let’s first prove beyond any doubt that this family actually set McDowell off or if they just heard what he said directed toward others. That does not excuse him but that point should be made clear.

Blue

April 27th, 2011
9:50 pm

Got to love free speech

Wat Wat Wat

April 27th, 2011
9:51 pm

he screwed up bad, but shouldn’t get fired. braves will have to do massive pr for this.

He probably will get fired, though. I have to think he was instigated (that picture AND Gloria Allred make me think this is a cash grab, just a bit to sweet) and the location of the park i’m sure made a difference in his “approach”. But it is still unacceptable and an embarrassment to the city.

Bad, stupid situation. And gloria allred is a freaking joke. still, unacceptable

Tucker T

April 27th, 2011
9:51 pm

It doesn’t matter what was said to McDowell. There is no excuse for that type of behavior.

Bryan G.

April 27th, 2011
9:51 pm

Gotta get rid of him. Can’t have someone like that representing your team.

Ted

April 27th, 2011
9:52 pm

Thanks for taking this on in your column. Roger McDowell is a disgrace. Hopefully the media won’t make excuses for his despicable comments.

Reverie

April 27th, 2011
9:52 pm

Gloria Allred the publicity whore? Really? Words that require an attorney? A CELEBRITY attorney? Really? OK, what he allegedly said was ugly but really people. What a bunch of infants. If Roger said it then fine him and move on.

shawn

April 27th, 2011
9:52 pm

I can not believe Roger would say such irresposible and stupid stuff, however, let’s have all the facts and then kill him. If he said what he accused of, then he needs some counseling not losing his job.

John Leonard

April 27th, 2011
9:54 pm

Mark you should give a warning before showing a picture of Allred.

D A DoubleU G

April 27th, 2011
9:55 pm

Whatever was said to McDowell is completely irrelevant.

Heckling the opposing team is just as part of the ballpark as hot dogs and beer. I admit sometimes it gets out of hand, and when it does, it is up to stadium security to do something about it, not the players or coaches on the field.

WHATEVER was said, the ONLY justifiable response from McDowell would have been to alert security.

This is an embarrassment for the Braves organization and the fans who support them, and in turn pay McDowell’s checks.

The only satisfactory action that can be taken to please all parties is for the Braves to immediately pack his bags.

showme714

April 27th, 2011
9:55 pm

So what if he is a homophobe. This is still America barely and he has a right to like or not like a lifestyle just like anyone else. Now his judgement was bad in this setting. Like someone said before , “if it had been racial”, no one would be making such a big fuss. But gays are somehow the new oppressed minority.

Jeff R

April 27th, 2011
9:56 pm

“Allegations”… “Alleged”…

So what are the facts?

Najeh Davenpoop

April 27th, 2011
9:56 pm

This is the first time I’m seeing an actual picture of Gloria Allred. I always assumed she looked like this.

Dr. Phil

April 27th, 2011
9:56 pm

I spent a week in FL in March watching Braves’ games. Roger regularly walked down the fence line and chatted with fans. I saw him pretend to steal a Yankees’ hat from a kid in Tampa, then return it with a baseball. I do not believe that Roger said anything about kids not belonging at a ball park. If he responded to heckling, he was stupid. Hecklers are stupid. Bud Selig is stupid, too.

DC Brave

April 27th, 2011
9:57 pm

I like what McDowell has done with the staff, but if this is right, his behavior is completely and unequivically unacceptable, especially for a guy (and a franchise) representing the “City Too Busy to Hate” . . . .

The Braves and Atlanta deserve a lot better than this. Again, if the allegations are true (or even mostly true) its a fireable offense.

GoBravesGo

April 27th, 2011
9:57 pm

if you go to an NBA, NFL, MLB,NHL, porf wrestling, nascar etc. etc..you will hear similar or worse stuff being said by players and coaches..4 letter words are the norm at professional sporting events
and then you bring out this hack alldred, yeah that helps your case

Reggie

April 27th, 2011
9:58 pm

Another MLB “Thug” ;-)

UGASlobberknocker

April 27th, 2011
10:02 pm

If it was a heat of the moment thing ..thats bad enough..he shouldbe suspended..it it was ongoing with those two girls there..he should be fired tomorrow

Tom

April 27th, 2011
10:06 pm

I see you wont let God into your blog. One day He will deny you also.

CONservative Johnson

April 27th, 2011
10:07 pm

Here we go with the “free speech” people who don’t actually understand what the 1st Amendment does and doesn’t do . . .

tnation

April 27th, 2011
10:07 pm

no matter what they said to him he shouldn’t have responded that way, so it won’t matter and if others heard it mcdowell will be gone, as he should be. i hate it, but we need someone focused on the crappy bullpen rather than the heckling fans.

JacketFan

April 27th, 2011
10:09 pm

Unacceptable. How in the crap did gay slurs start with that family anyways? How in the hell do they even look remotely gay?

Makes no sense. He apologized for it, so he must have said something. You always have to be careful with celebrity attorneys as well, they are like twice as dirty as a typical attorney.

luvthosedawgs68

April 27th, 2011
10:09 pm

As a Braves fan, and a gay man, I have to say I am disappointed in the comments uttered by
Roger. As for earlier comments, I agree that there will have to be some damage control on the teams end of this. I also would like to say, If you think that Philly fans can be rude, San Francisco fans are the Worst when it comes to being rude. I’ve been to several ballparks over the last 25 years, and Giant fans are by far the WORST when it comes to visitor fans watching games in SF.

John

April 27th, 2011
10:09 pm

I really am curious. So where is that “thug” word that gets tossed around these blogs all the time? Surely it’s not reserved for just one group of people in our society now is it? Is Roger not a thug?

TROTTINGHOME

April 27th, 2011
10:12 pm

It’s over rodger…you are done…and no….Leo won’t be taking his place..very sad…america has got to get over tis fear of anything not white or heterosexual.

Huh???

April 27th, 2011
10:14 pm

Don’t know what was said only the blog comments to judge him IF he said anything overly offensive. The man apologized so obviously he said something, but is it actionable the basis for a lawsuit? Don’t know yet so cannot comment on what he said. While waiting, I can comment on the fact they hired a media whore, Gloria Allred, to file suit for ???? (terroristic threats?). Also, why is there a bat on the table when no one has alleged McDowell did anything to anyone with a bat? Why are there 4 or 5 network microphones in front of the accuser/victim? Why is Gloria Allred in the picture with the family? Why is this picture in the newspaper when there is no assertion that any lawsuit has even been filed? Why is the man’s daughter praying? To get a monetary settlement out of the Braves, McDowell or baseball itself. Check out Allred’s track record, the second it appears no damage was incurred – and no one contends there was a physical action – she will be gone. No camera’s no Allred. If McDowell did get into a nasty verbal confontation, baseball and the Braves will take care of the situation because, just as Allred, they are extremely aware of what public perception means irrespective of the true facts. ‘91 Baby, you got it right.

Greg

April 27th, 2011
10:15 pm

If everything happened as was alleged he will be fired and he should be. The fact that he is a coach and has been around long enough to know how to control himself will be held against him. Plus, if the allegations are true then he didn’t just make a gay slur, which would be problem itself, but he made sexual gestures, may have threatened someone with a bat and made the stupid comment about kids.
If all that’s true, then he looks pretty out of control. Gotta get rid of a guy that represents your team and city like that. He is a good coach and appeared to be a calm dude…that’s why this sucks so bad…

Mike

April 27th, 2011
10:16 pm

THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!

Give me a break. The Braves have never supported anti-homophobic behavior. The Giants openly supported a drugs abusing cheater for a buck. Crappy organization.

Are those the same kids the conservative Christian folks trotted out a few years ago to denounce Sunday alcohol sales?

Mike

April 27th, 2011
10:16 pm

Speaking of kids at the ballpark, about 80% of the fans could stand to clean up their mouths in the stands. The lack of respect for families (kids) is real.

Plane Driver

April 27th, 2011
10:17 pm

Under NO circumstances can you offend homosexuals. No other group enjoys the protection that gays have. Ask King and Spaulding, ask Anita Bryant, ask Atlanta PD Reddog unit. NO ONE gets away with even looking at homosexuals crossways these days. Good luck keeping your job coach, you could have won 1000 games, lost none and still be fired for this offense.

chem

April 27th, 2011
10:17 pm

What are these little leaguers thinking showing up at the ballpark eating all the corndogs? Baseball is only for grown men! psssh!

Brad Clontz

April 27th, 2011
10:17 pm

This makes me like him MORE!

What a joke, everyone always looking for a payday these days.

leroy

April 27th, 2011
10:19 pm

Way to support your pitching coach Atlanta fans. You guys are pathetic…

Renowned publicity hound Gloria Allred (who has ZERO credibility) marches some folks out who accuse a coach of an opposing team of non PC speech and you guys throw him under the bus with no audio, no video, no evidence, no witnesses- only her and their accusations.

Pitiful… at least give the man the benefit of the doubt and the chance to answer and to produce witnesses of his own.

Plane Driver

April 27th, 2011
10:20 pm

Why did this family have to hire such a high profile lawyer? How did they even know to contact her? You look at that photo and its the second coming of Snow White. You can bet your last dollar the photo is staged by that high dollar lawyer. She is a master at law suits and money is on their minds.

James Dean

April 27th, 2011
10:22 pm

Najeh–That representation of Allred seems accurate after seeing the video, no?

And did anybody see the footage at the end where she strokes the bat like McDowell supposedly did?
–The woman is pure evil, I say…

John

April 27th, 2011
10:22 pm

So Leroy, if he said nothing wrong then why come out with the preemptive apology?

sensible person

April 27th, 2011
10:24 pm

McDowell should NOT be fired. Maybe sensitivity training and a fine. It’s not like this is some kind of pattern. Gloria Allred is a skank. She is almost a worse publicity whore as Jessie Jackson…but not quite. She’s garbage. Braves are a class organization. They will handle this in the right way. A one time mistake should not cost Roger his job. PERIOD.