Work in Sports
Clemens fined $50,000 by MLB for bat-tossing incident
Updated: Wednesday October 25, 2000 9:29 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was fined $50,000 Tuesday for throwing the jagged barrel of a shattered bat toward New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza in Game 2 of the World Series.
Clemens wasn't ejected for throwing the broken bat in the first inning of Sunday night's game, and baseball didn't disclose the amount of the fine. But two baseball officials with knowledge of the fine, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press it was $50,000.
"It was a reckless type of action on his part," said Frank Robinson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline.
The fine matches the largest ever levied against a player, equaling the amount Albert Belle was fined for his profane tirade toward a TV reporter during the 1995 World Series.
"I want to stay focused on the task at hand, helping my team win the World Series, so I do not intend to consider the question of an appeal or respond to questions about the fine or the incident itself until this series is over," Clemens said in a statement.
Clemens and the players' association have seven days to appeal the decision to chief operating offer Paul Beeston -- who as president of the Toronto Blue Jays, signed Clemens to a $24.75 million, three-year contract after the 1996 season.
Fines often are reduced on appeal. Earlier this year, an arbitrator cut John Rocker's suspension from 28 days to 14 days and his fine from $20,000 to $500.
"It's all irrelevant," Piazza said after Robinson announced his decision. "It doesn't matter. I have no opinion."
Umpires during Game 2 concluded that Clemens, who beaned Piazza on July 8, didn't deliberately throw the broken bat at the catcher. Clemens wasn't ejected and allowed two hits in eight shutout innings as the Yankees won 6-5.
"It doesn't matter about intent. That wasn't important," Robinson said by the batting cage before Game 3 at Shea Stadium. "It's just the action of the player."
Robinson said the penalty would have been the same if the action occurred during a regular-season game. He considered suspending Clemens -- a suspension probably would have been delayed until next season by the appeals process -- but decided against it.
"I just felt that a suspension was not necessary in this case," Robinson said. "I felt a fine was appropriate in this instance."
Robinson spoke with Clemens, Piazza, both managers and general managers, and also reviewed videotapes. He said he agreed with the umpires' decision not to eject the five-time Cy Young Award winner.
"Roger Clemens did not throw a baseball at Piazza," Robinson said. "What he did was throw part of a bat that he initially thought was a ball. He just flung it off the field. I don't think Roger Clemens intended the barrel of the bat to hit Mike Piazza."
While Clemens makes millions of dollars, he may not have to pay anything. In baseball, teams often pay fines levied against their players.
"I have no comment. We're just here to play baseball," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said.
The Mets gave a measured response to Robinson's decision.
"I think it was handled appropriately," general manager Steve Phillips said. "If they had come back and said they didn't want to do anything, that's fine, too. It wouldn't have broken our hearts either way."
Mets manager Bobby Valentine gave a jocular response.
"Unless they're sending it to my favorite charity, I don't really give a darn," he said.
Clemens' teammate Jeff Nelson suggested that baseball should punish Mets pitcher Mike Hampton for hitting Yankees outfielder David Justice in the sixth inning of Game 2.
"If you're going to fine Roger 50 grand, then you have to fine Hampton for hitting David Justice," Nelson said.
During the regular season against Clemens, Piazza is 7-for-12 (.583) in his career with three homers.
While pitching for Boston in 1990, Clemens was ejected during a game against Oakland in the AL playoffs by umpire Terry Cooney, who claimed the pitcher was cursing at him.
Clemens was suspended for five games and fined $10,000. After hearing the appeal, commissioner Fay Vincent concluded Clemens didn't curse at Cooney, but said the pitcher's actions were unwarranted and upheld the penalties. The suspension was served about a month into the 1991 season.