The Atlanta Braves pitching coach was given an unpaid two-week suspension, assessed a fine of an undisclosed amount and ordered to undergo sensitivity training after a profane April 23 incident with fans at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
During the incident, a parent named Justin Quinn alleged that McDowell aimed gay slurs and made crude sexual gestures toward three men sitting in the bleachers. Quinn says that when he pointed out that there were kids within earshot, McDowell told him that children don't belong at the ballpark. Quinn says that McDowell then brandished a bat and said "how much are your teeth worth?"
That's pretty deplorable behavior, no matter if kids were present or not, and it's no wonder that Major League Baseball sprang into action with an investigation.
Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement Sunday that insensitivity to others "simply cannot and will not be tolerated."
"I understand that Mr. McDowell is very contrite about his conduct, and hopefully this incident will be used to increase public awareness of the importance of sensitivity to others," Selig said. "I commend Justin Quinn and his family for bringing this issue to our attention so that it will not happen again in the future."
I suppose there will be some debate over whether McDowell received too lenient of a punishment, but Quinn and his lawyer, Gloria Allred, said they were pleased with MLB's response. (The league says it plans to invite Quinn and his twin 9-year-old daughters to a future San Francisco Giants game as guests of the league.)
And given McDowell's behavior in the wake of Quinn's allegations, I think the punishment was just about right. When the incident made headlines last week, McDowell did not slink away from the allegations, did not respond in his usual goofball manner and didn't try to rationalize his behavior in any way. He quickly said he was sorry, made an offer to call Quinn to apologize directly and welcomed whatever discipline was coming his way.
That stand-up manner in which McDowell handled the incident probably saved his job.
"I understand the decision made today by the commissioner," McDowell said in a statement Sunday. "I am embarrassed by my actions and I plan to give a personal apology to Mr. Quinn and his family. I would also like to offer a public and heartfelt apology to the fans of San Francisco, to the Atlanta Braves organization, my family and to Major League Baseball."
An ugly incident no matter how you look at it.
But at least it seems like McDowell knows that his actions were in the wrong.