ATLANTA -- National League umpire Mark Hirschbeck said yesterday that his brother John was "more disappointed" with American League president Gene Budig's five-game suspension of Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar than by the spitting incident that led to the suspension.
"When you work for someone, you want them to back you up," said the younger Hirschbeck, who is working the League Championship Series between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. "He's more hurt by what Gene Budig did than by what Alomar did."
Mark Hirschbeck has been in constant telephone communication with his brother since the incident took place Sept. 27 at SkyDome in Toronto. He was working in Los Angeles the night it happened and gave his brother a call at 4 a.m. "I've talked with him three or four times a day," said Mark Hirschbeck.
"He was OK that Sunday and Monday, but every day after that got a little worse," said Mark Hirschbeck. "He wanted to let the [Major League Baseball Umpires] association handle it. But now he wants to put an end to it. By accepting Alomar's apology, that was the right thing to do."
Mark Hirschbeck said that his brother's life in Poland, Ohio, hasn't been the same since the incident took place. The street that John Hirschbeck, his wife and three children live on had to be closed by police because it was getting clogged by television crews. "People were going on his lawn," Mark Hirschbeck said. "He finally had to take the family on a vacation."
Just as the incident is bound to follow Alomar for the foreseeable future, it is likely to follow John Hirschbeck as well. Mark Hirschbeck said that his brother has no plans to leave his profession, or the American League. "He just wants to get back on the field next season," said Mark Hirschbeck.
Asked about the proposed postseason summit of representatives for the players and umpires that was announced last week by acting commissioner Bud Selig, Mark Hirschbeck thought it was a good idea if the respective leaders of the two groups, Don Fehr and Richie Phillips, can put aside their differences.
"We have to work out certain situations where there can't be an appeal," said Mark Hirschbeck.
No big deal in Atlanta
Fans in Baltimore and New York are not the only ones who have little interest in the series between the Braves and Cardinals. From the look of things around here, Atlanta's baseball fervor seems to have been extinguished. Or maybe it's a smugness that comes from the team being in its fifth straight NLCS.
The front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution led with a story about whether the FBI was going to drop former security guard Richard Jewell from its list of suspects in the bombing of Centennial Olympic Park.
The sports section led with the mess involving quarterback Jeff George and the Falcons. There was also a story about the 4,000 tickets available for games 1 and 2 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
"I guess fans expect us to be here," said Braves third baseman Chipper Jones. "I saw empty seats in the Division Series [against the Dodgers]. But you can't worry too much on what is happening in the stands; you just have to stay focused on what is going on on the field."
Cardinals coming on
One thing to consider when looking at the Braves' dominance over the Cardinals this season: The series in which Atlanta went 9-4 -- including 6-0 at Busch Stadium -- was finished July 24. At the time, the Cardinals were just starting to show signs of the team they have become.
"We have 25 guys, a manager and coaches who believe we can win," said pitcher Andy Benes, who started last night's game. "I knew if we got through Round 1, we would have to face Atlanta. I think the Braves respect us and we have good talent."
Braves manager Bobby Cox tried to defuse the issue when asked whether the Braves do not respect the Cardinals.
"That's the most stupid thing I've heard in a long time," he said. "Anybody that's in the postseason, respect them. They've got to have a good ballclub to get here."
Pub Date: 10/10/96