I love sports. I really do. And few things are as fun as an old-fashioned feud. Is it really only good for reporters? Maybe. But admit it – you’re entertained as well. No need to rehash all the particulars, but basically Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta was ejected from Tuesday’s game for liberal use of pine tar on his glove. Rays manager Joe Maddon went on a tirade after the game attacking the Nationals and we were off and running. Johnson and Maddon spoke at the same time on Tuesday so Wednesday afternoon reporters had the chance to speak to both with a more detailed line of questioning.
“Anytime there’s a rule violation, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a rule violation,” said Johnson, defending his decision to have Peralta’s glove checked for a foreign substance. “My only comments to him is read the rule book. It’s simple.”
Maddon’s not buying it. He even said that big-league players will think twice about signing with Washington in the future. He was doing a super stretch to make that point. As long as the buzz of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper surrounds this team – and it’s winning – players will come to Washington. That’s just a fact.
“I don’t want to get in a shouting match with Joe. I looked him up on the internet and found out he has a tweeter so he can get to more people than me,” Johnson said. “And so I don’t want to get in a shouting match with him. He’s got a bigger following. But it was interesting reading. But you can tell him I have a doctorate of letters, too. Mine’s from Loyola (Md.) in humanities. And I’m proud of that, too.”
That paragraph was just too much fun. So Johnson wanted to avoid a war of words and ended it by comparing his honorary doctorate with Maddon’s, who has one from Lafayette College. Good times! Johnson acknowledged that he thought the penalty for using pine tar was too severe. Peralta is facing a suspension after the Rays conceded that he used it. Johnson would be fine with simply an ejection. Sweat mixed with the rosin pitchers legally use has a similar effect anyway. So do we see any carry over into tonight’s game?
“I don’t,” Johnson said. “Not speaking for the guru over there. But as far as the league, as far as I’m concerned it’s over and done with. It’s just one little issue.”
Okay, there’s another not-so-subtle dig. Johnson claimed not to be mad about Maddon’s personal shots, but it was pretty clear that Maddon calling him a…um…coarse name for the female anatomy was pushing it. Maddon also used the term “cowardly”.
“I thought he was a weird wuss anyway, not knowing him. But I understand where he’s coming from,” Johnson said. “His job as a manager is to protect the players. Striking out at whoever he thinks is causing his players any grievance. So I understand where he’s coming from. But he doesn’t know me from a hole in the hill. Or I him, for that matter. But I do know the rule book and I do try to follow it. And if one of my players was breaking, got caught, turn the page. Try not to get caught.”
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