Minor league manager Doug Mientkiewicz brawls with opposing skipper

David Brown
Big League Stew

No matter his good intentions in sticking up for his own guys, minor league manager and former major leaguer Doug Mientkiewicz forgot that he's not a player anymore and probably shouldn't be fighting.

Mientkiewicz, heretofore known as a hard-nosed "Piranha" with the Minnesota Twins, and the guy who caught the last out to quench the World Series drought for the Boston Red Sox, directly involved himself in a brawl with his players on the Class A Ft. Myers (Fla.) Miracle over the weekend.

When hostilities came to a head with the Bradenton Marauders on Saturday, Mientkiewicz reportedly sprinted from his team's dugout — George Brett pine-tar style — and "locked arms" with Bradenton manager Frank Klembas, wrestling him to the ground. Players from both sides struggled to keep their managers separated. Bradenton is a Pittsburgh Pirates club. Fort Myers belongs to the Twins.

The Fort Myers News-Press, also responsible for the video that (sadly) doesn't include the George Brett impersonation, has been following the story:

The trouble perhaps began brewing Friday when Marauders infielder Dan Gamache collided with Miracle catcher Jairo Rodriguez at home plate, knocking Rodriguez out of the game.

In the fourth inning of Saturday’s scoreless game, Gamache was brushed in the back by a pitch thrown by Miracle starting pitcher Jason Wheeler.

That pitch prompted Kremblas to step out of the dugout and shout at the umpire and at Mientkiewicz, urging him to come out of the dugout.

Mientkiewicz obliged. He sprinted out of the dugout in anger, looking reminiscent of former Kansas City Royals first baseman George Brett 30 years ago, when he charged after an umpire in what became known as the “pine tar game.”

Instead of charging the umpire, Mientkiewicz locked arms with Kremblas and brought him to the ground as the benches cleared.

Players from both teams surrounded and separated the two managers.

Mientkiewicz, the News-Press writes, awaits a likely suspension. The Twins, in a vote of confidence of sorts, say they will leave it up to the FSL to dish out punishment. So it appears that Mientkiewicz hasn't irreversibly harmed his budding managerial career. If you remember him fondly as a player, that's good news.

Not to put too fine of a point on the fight, but the most striking thing about the video was the audio. Obviously, there were kids at the game, watching grown men — professionals — act like hooligans. The last thing ballplayers usually are thinking about during a game is what's going on in the stands. But Mientkiewicz would do himself a favor to think about who might be watching.

He's not a stranger to odd controversies, of course. Mientkiewicz kept possession of that historic baseball from the '04 Series long after the last out, once making a joke that it was his "retirement fund." Some Red Sox fans didn't find it funny and made actual threats against him and his family. Well, that ruins the fun, doesn't it? Eventually, the ball was donated to the Hall of Fame. So it all turned out OK. Probably — hopefully — like this.

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