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The Press vs. Fernando Rodney

Detroit's closer Fernando Rodney is about to sit out three games, a suspension levied because he threw a ball into the stands after a recent victory. Naturally, Rodney realizes he made a mistake by giving the rawhide orb a heave ho, but he's apologized for the incident and insists it was an emotional mistake that won't be replicated.

Instead, he's being suspended, and the reason why may have a lot to do with where the ball landed: The Comerica Field press box.

According to this piece by the Detroit News' Tom Gage, MLB's vice president for On-Field Operations, Tom Watson, may have been swayed to suspend the Detroit reliever because of a letter sent in by the St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin, a beat writer who also happens to be the chairman of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association.

As is his duty as a BBWA chairman, Topkin sent a letter to Pat Courtney, MLB's vice president of public relations, and Jack O'Connell, the BBWA secretary-treasurer. In the "factual" letter about the incident, Topkin specifically noted that Rodney hadn't searched out the reporters after the game to apologize for having the ball hit in the press box.

Naturally, that hasn't been sitting well with Detroit management. Here was the complete take from Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski:

"I thought at the time there could be (a penalty), and I called him into the office at the game to tell him. What bothers me is that a lot of it was driven by the letter that was written. The letter said Fernando wasn't at all remorseful, but I know he was. I wish (Topkin) had called me before writing the letter.

"Without the letter being written, the suspension would not have been as strong, and I don't know there would have been a suspension."

We'll never know whether Topkin's letter was the sole reason for Rodney's suspension, or even a major factor. One thing is certain: It couldn't have helped Rodney's case.

By Cameron Smith  |  September 10, 2009; 12:38 PM ET
Categories:  Rays , Tigers  | Tags: Dave Dombrowski, Fernando Rodney, Rays, Tigers, suspension  
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what a ridiculous reason for having a stiffer penalty. rodney said after the game (as best i can recall) that he shouldn't have done it but his emotions got the best of him. big deal. maybe give him a small fine and a warning for any future infractions, but come on. it's just flat ridiculous.

here's hoping his appeal makes MLB reconsider.

Posted by: adampschroeder | September 10, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Tompkins should have waited for a day and he would have seen or heard about the apology. A three game suspension seems harsh. It was only the press box, now if it had gone into the stands of paying customers...

Posted by: adhardwick | September 10, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Uh, that should be Topkin.

Posted by: adhardwick | September 10, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

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