Roger McDowell must have realized that super lawyer Gloria Allred is a better closer than he ever was. In fact, he didn't even try warming up before denying the charges she and a client made against him on Wednesday afternoon.
McDowell, the Atlanta Braves pitching coach, issued a written apology, apparently for making gay slurs to fans and threatening another fan who complained before a game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park over the weekend.
McDowell was a good player — he was a closer on the 1986 New York Mets — but he was known more for being a cutup; jokes, hotfoots, etc. If he was trying to be funny this time, nobody got the joke.
A family of four who attended the game retained Allred, who has been known to attach herself to a sensational issue or two. Doing what she does best, Allred gave a press conference Wednesday afternoon that included two 9-year-old girls who allegedly witnessed McDowell's Mel Gibson-ish rant.
Allred demanded an apology and that MLB fine the Braves and McDowell. She also requested that the coach receive sensitivity training. Well, the Braves appear upset with McDowell, and MLB commissioner Bud Selig says he finds the allegations troubling.
And, not long after Allred's presser, McDowell came through with the aforementioned apology. Here's McDowell's statement, via the Twitter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Braves beat reporter, Dave O'Brien:
"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions."
Apologizing for what, exactly? Well, that is the length of McDowell's statement, as he was not made available to take questions. Let's check with Ms. Allred, via TMZ, to see what the accusers say. Some of the language is not for kids.
The father alleges his family witnessed McDowell ask a male group of fans, "Are you a homo couple or a threesome?" and "Are you three giving it to each other in the [redacted]."
It's also alleged that McDowell used the bat he was carrying to simulate (presumably) gay sex. When the father confronted McDowell from the stands about his behavior, the coach responded:
"Kids don't [blanking] belong at the baseball park" ... and then approached him with a baseball bat, saying, "How much are your teeth worth?"
As for kids not belonging at the ballpark. Well, that doesn't jibe with the McDowell in this photo!
Unfortunately, the kinds of slurs of which McDowell is accused can be heard frequently in major league clubhouses. (And, to be fair, in many workplaces.) It's just incredibly stupid of McDowell to use that language with fans — hecklers or not.
Granted, Allred is known for sensationalizing issues just by weighing in, but I give her credit for using restraint. You figured she would call for McDowell's job, or half of his pay, or even his head. She didn't.
But that McDowell didn't even bother denying the charges is still damning for him. If the Braves did fire him, they'd be within their right. McDowell might have been joking with the guy about what his teeth were worth, but what if he wasn't? Threatening a fan with a bat? I'd look closely at whether this guy should be employed anymore.
Another question, in the public relations vein: What will openly gay music legend and huge Atlanta Braves fan Elton John think of this?
Maybe, as with Eminem, he'll call McDowell to a meeting to try and reach an understanding.