Aaron Boone
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Aaron Boone receives one-game suspension for explosive tirade

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Yankees manager Aaron Boone has been suspended and fined for his actions during Thursday’s doubleheader against the Rays. Boone was ejected from Game 1 after making contact with home plate umpire Brennan Miller and will not be available to manage the Yankees during their series opener against the Rockies on Friday.

The ejection was triggered by a missed strikeout call in the second inning of Game 1, prompting Boone to run out to home plate and deliver one of his lengthier and more bizarre rants of the season. Incensed by Miller’s shaky grasp of the strike zone, Boone repeatedly referred to his players as “f***ing savages” and told the umpire to “tighten this s**t up.”

Exactly when the illicit contact came into play remains unclear, but crew chief Gerry Davis later commented on the situation and said Boone had crossed some boundaries during his tirade. Per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch: “You’re not allowed to argue balls and strikes, so yeah. Yes he did [go too far]. That will all be in the report.”

In his own statements to the press, Boone defended his use of the word “savages,” claiming, “I always just want our guys all the time controlling the strike zone and making it hard on the pitchers. That’s something those guys take a lot of pride in as a lineup.” Several Yankees players, including Luke Voit and Aaron Judge, backed up the skipper’s decision to confront Miller as well, though Voit was the only player to explicitly support Boone’s use of the term.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.