Last call comes early for Ripken Ejected Oriole regrets 'generally irritated' tirade


When umpire Drew Coble ejected Cal Ripken back in 1989, he likened it to throwing God out of Sunday school.

For Al Clark, it was same day, different religion.

"I'm Jewish. I don't go to Sunday school," he said.

Clark tossed Ripken in the second inning of yesterday's 10-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox for arguing a called third strike. Ripken was upset over the last two strike calls, believing the final pitch from starter Jaime Navarro had missed outside, which an overhead camera confirmed on replays. He took a step toward the dugout as he said something to Clark and was ejected immediately.

Manager Davey Johnson ran onto the field to join the dispute. Ripken pointed a finger in Clark's face and appeared to curse during the argument, which lasted about 90 seconds and came with the Orioles already behind 6-0.

"He was arguing balls and strikes and that's not going to happen anymore," Clark said. "Obviously, he used objectionable language. It's between the American League office, Dr. [Gene] Budig and me. That's policy and we adhere to policy.

"As good as Cal is and as great as he is for our game, he certainly has some responsibility also to our game and to respect the people who run the game. He's not immune to being ejected."

Yesterday's ejection was the third for Ripken in a career that began in 1981, when he had 39 at-bats with the Orioles. He also was thrown out by Tim Welke in the first inning of a Sept. 25, 1987, game against the New York Yankees, and by Coble in the first inning of an Aug. 7, 1989, game against Minnesota. Each time, he was arguing a strike call.

The outburst yesterday began from a different source, though it culminated with the third strike. Ripken said he sensed that the umpires became upset with pitcher Shawn Boskie's repeated attempts to pick off Ray Durham in the first inning at first and second base. Umpire Larry Barnett then stood between second baseman Roberto Alomar and the bag.

"Because the game took so long yesterday [4: 05], it seemed like there was just a general annoyance by our actions in the first inning and that really bothered me. And I carried that to my first at-bat," said Ripken, who extended his consecutive-games streak to 2,411 games, and his slump to 5-for-37 (.135).

"I can't sit here and say that I'm wrong to be bothered by that. It's our job to play the game and to formulate the strategy in which we're going to win. And that's all we were trying to do."

Said Alomar: "[Barnett] was right there. I couldn't make the pickoff. But I didn't say anything about it."

Clark told Ripken he was venting his frustration at the home plate umpire, a point Ripken disputed at the time, then agreed with later.

"I wish I had been strong enough or had a better way of handling it," he said. "In the end, that happened and I regret having that happen. But I was frustrated at how things have been going with the team, and I personally haven't been able to hit as well, and I guess I was just generally irritated. And the thing that irritated me the most was the way the first inning started. I take full responsibility for my actions and what I said. I'm not proud of it. I regret the actions. I can't take them back. I can only say I was wrong."

It wasn't the best of afternoons for Clark. He also failed to call several seeming third strikes over the heart of the plate for both teams.

"Al didn't have a particularly good day, but the umpires didn't beat us," Johnson said.

Johnson had gotten into a dispute with first base umpire Dan Morrison in the first inning after he ruled Frank Thomas safe on a high chopper to Ripken. Replays showed he was out.

Another disagreement arose in the sixth, this time with Barnett. Greg Kosc, working third base, had ruled that left fielder Albert Belle trapped a sinking liner from Geronimo Berroa with two outs, scoring Alomar. But after White Sox manager Terry Bevington ran from the dugout and Belle jogged toward the infield, Barnett correctly reversed the call.

This is how bad it went for the Orioles yesterday. Cal Ripken loses an argument with an umpire, and Albert Belle wins one.

"I haven't seen Cal that mad," Johnson said. "He gave [Clark] a piece of his mind. I had to keep from laughing. He cut to the chase. He was right to the point."

Pub Date: 7/21/97

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