Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Crawford Was Robbed, But His Behavior Might Draw Suspension
Posted Sep 3, 2007 by Aaron Knox
Updated Sep 3, 2007 at 08:22 PM
I’ve been around this team pretty much since its inception. In a decade of bad baseball, I’ve never seen a call as bad as the one I just saw go against Carl Crawford in the bottom of the third against the Orioles.
Crawford came up with the bases loaded and no outs and punched a hopper over the head of pitcher Kurt Birkins. As the run scored, Crawford motored down the line and Orioles SS Miguel Tejada scooped up the grounder and fired to first. Few infielders in the game have an arm as strong as Tejada’s, so it figured the play would be close even with Crawford running. As it turned out, though, Tejada’s throw pulled first baseman Kevin Millar off the bag on the home plate side, and Crawford was clearly safe. How safe? Millar’s body language showed that he wasn’t even thinking about the out at first. In fact, his foot was at least 18 inches off the bag when he caught the ball.
I’ve never seen Crawford this angry. When first base umpire Paul Nauert punched him out, Crawford leaped high in the air, grabbed his batting helmet off his head and flung it to the ground with both hands as he moved toward Nauert, who immediately ejected Crawford from the game. C.C. wasn’t done, though; he leaped again after throwing his helmet down and only the intervention of first base coach George Hendrick kept Crawford from getting at Nauert. Then, with Hendrick basically shielding Nauert from Crawford, the Rays’ left fielder leaped again—nearly vaulting Hendrick’s back as he tried to get at Nauert.
He continued to yell from a short distance away as Hendrick and Joe Maddon argued his case to no avail.
It was at least the second ejection in Crawford’s career. He was run at some point last year, and the Rays PR staff is checking to see if there were any others in his Rays career.
This one, though, will almost surely draw at least some consideration for a suspension by MLB. When Crawford tried to leap over Hendrick, he forced the first base coach physically into the umpire—and contact with an umpire is a big no-no.
Jonny Gomes, who had been scheduled to be off tonight and tomorrow as he works on getting his mind right during a 2-for-22 slump over the past six games, has entered the game as Crawford’s replacement in left and as the No. 2 hitter.
Incidentally, it was the second questionable call of the game for Nauert, who signalled Orioles 3B Melvin Mora safe on an infield single that started Baltimore’s four-run rally in the third. Nauert, 44, has been a major-league umpire since 1999.