The Phillies are coming off a sweep of the Nationals. The Atlanta Braves are just coming off a sweep of the Brewers. And tonight, these two NL East rivals will face one another with Atlanta down 4.5 games in the standings and hoping to catch up.
But the Braves will be at something of a disadvantage for this series against your hometown Phillies, and that’s because they’ll be without pitching coach Roger McDowell, who was suspended by MLB for two full weeks earlier this week for his treatment of fans in San Francisco.
If you’ve been obsessing over the Phils for the past week or so and aren’t familiar with this story, let the LA Times give you an overview:
"McDowell is accused of asking three Giants fans in the stands, 'Are you a homo couple or a threesome?' He is accused of using two fingers and the small end of a baseball bat to simulate sexual intercourse, among other lewd comments and gestures, including thrusting his hips back and forth in a sexual manner."
Charming! That incident was later recreated at a press conference by lawyer Gloria Allred. I can't link to the video of it because it's kind of disgusting. When a father in the stands beseeched McDowell to heed the presence of kids at the park, McDowell politely told the fan that kids “don't [expletive] belong at the baseball park,” (so true, when you think about it) and then threatened to knock out the man’s teeth with his bat.
McDowell has since apologized for his comments, but did so in a lame written statement and went out of his way to address his accusers as “heckling fans." There are plenty of people out there who want McDowell fired for the incident, but the Braves tend to sweep such coaching transgressions under the carpet if former manager Bobby Cox’s past is any indication. McDowell’s outburst also comes on the heels of pitcher Derek Lowe getting tagged for DUI.
So yeah, bit of an eventful week for those guys. It’s almost enough to make their fans remember that they have a baseball team.
Given their sweep of Milwaukee, all this stuff hasn’t distracted the Braves on the field that much, which makes you wonder if firing McDowell would really make things harder for them. McDowell will return, mildly chastened and life will go on. In a way, it’s a shame he won’t be attendance tonight. Lord knows the fans here could give that guy an earful back that would make him seriously reconsider ever getting it on with a bat at the ballpark ever again.