Braves' McDowell on leave after alleged S.F. incident

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Braves' McDowell on leave after alleged S.F. incident

April 29, 2011GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave Friday while they investigate allegations that he made homophobic comments and crude gestures toward fans before a game in San Francisco last weekend.McDowell also is accused of using a baseball bat to threatening a fan who objected to his actions.The former major league reliever apologized in a statement, but the team barred him from the bench heading into a three-game series against St. Louis.The Braves' minor league pitching coordinator, Dave Wallace, will take over for McDowell during the investigation. Major League Baseball has said it's waiting to hear from the team before deciding on possible penalties.Atlanta general manager Frank Wren planned to address the media before Friday night's game.The de facto suspension of McDowell came just hours after the team announced it was looking into the arrest Thursday night of starting pitcher Derek Lowe on drunken-driving charges, a double dose of trouble for a team that has always prided itself on avoiding off-the-field incidents.The altercation at AT&T Park in San Francisco took place last Saturday during pregame batting practice. Justin Quinn was in the stands with his wife and 9-year-old twin daughters when he noticed McDowell hectoring three men and asking them, "Are you guys a homo couple or a threesome?"After the coach made crude sexual gestures with his hips and a bat, Quinn said he shouted, "Hey there are kids out here." According to Quinn, McDowell said kids don't belong at a baseball park, picked up a bat, walked up to Quinn and asked him, "How much are your teeth worth?"Quinn said he felt threatened and was unsure whether McDowell intended to hit him."My kids are in panic mode ... they're like grabbing onto me," Quinn said Wednesday during a news conference at the office of prominent Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred. "I'm talking to him, trying to calm him down and the kids are screaming."Some parents who were in the stands with their children began to boo at McDowell and came down to retrieve their kids. Quinn said that eventually McDowell walked away."I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco," McDowell said in a statement, his only public comment on the matter. "I apologize to everyone for my actions."Baseball commissioner Bud Selig called the allegations "very troubling" while awaiting the results of the team's investigation.The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called on the Braves and Major League Baseball must take "real disciplinary action and send the message that anti-gay slurs have no place in sports.""Professional sporting events should be an environment that all fans and families can enjoy, not a place where children are exposed to violent threats and discriminatory language," the alliance's president, Jarrett Barrios, said.McDowell was a star reliever with the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, playing a key role on New York's World Series-winning club in 1986. He has been Atlanta's pitching coach since 2005, earning praise for his work in developing young hurlers such as Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

NASHVILLE – Apparently, one wake up call wasn’t good enough for the plummeting San Jose Sharks.
 
Just one day after suffering what was arguably their worst game under coach Pete DeBoer, Nashville put up a touchdown on the Sharks in a 7-2 win, giving San Jose its sixth straight defeat – all in regulation.
 
After getting outscored 13-3 the last two nights, including Friday’s 6-1 loss in Dallas, where do they go from here?
 
“In two years, last year and this year so far, we haven’t had one night like this almost. Now we have back-to-back nights,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s just a reality check. A gut-check time.
 
“It’s on us as players. Bottom line is we haven’t put the effort in that we need to have right now, and it snowballed on us a little bit at times. I think we’ve got to take a deep breath and really take a look in the mirror, refocus a little bit and understand there’s hockey out there, but it’s not going to fix itself.”
 
What has to be fixed immediately is the defensive structure that has been so vital to the Sharks’ success in the Pete DeBoer era. Even when the club was going through stretches of struggling to score, as it was earlier in the season, it was still collecting points in the standings with its ability to limit the opposition’s scoring chances.
 
While the game against the Predators was actually a little better in that regard, believe it or not, it was still nowhere near the level it needs to be for the postseason. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s absence was partly to blame for that, but the Brent Burns-Paul Martin pair has been a disaster lately. Both have a minus-nine rating during the six-game losing streak, and that number is indicative of how they’ve looked, too.
 
“We’re giving up some goals. It’s a combination of things,” DeBoer said. “Obviously it’s not good enough to win games, so we’ve got to figure it out. I don’t have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I’ve ever coached has a tough part of the season. This is obviously ours. We’ll regroup, and figure it out.”
 
Burns, who admitted to a “bad read” on Nashville’s second goal when Roman Josi sped around him, said: “It’s a tough league when you’re not executing little things.”
 
The Sharks actually looked strong early, poised to put the Dallas disaster behind them. The first few shifts, they had the puck in the Nashville end.
 
But Tomas Hertl was outmuscled behind the net by Colin Wilson on Colton Sissons’ goal at 4:14, Burns got beat on the second, and the Sharks never recovered. Patrick Marleau’s second period power play goal offered life, but that was extinguished 24 seconds later when James Neal answered with a power play goal of his own. The Sharks never got closer than two goals after that.
 
“When things are going bad, those are the things that are happening,” Burns said of Neal’s response to Marleau’s marker. “So, you’ve just got work through it."
 
Will they be able to work through it with just seven games left in the regular season, though? That this cold spell is happening in late March doesn’t speak well to the Sharks’ chances in the postseason, which begins in just two-and-a-half weeks.
 
Burns said: “Right now we should be just tightening up everything. … We've got figure it out pretty soon.”

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

NASHVILLE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley could be in line for supplemental discipline from the league, after earning a match penalty in the third period of Saturday’s 7-2 loss in Nashville.
 
After absorbing a borderline hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame, with the Sharks trailing 5-2 at the time.
 
Naturally, there were differing opinions from the two head coaches on the play.
 
Pete DeBoer said: “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth.”
 
Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters: "It's an ugly play. This isn't the wild, wild west. I mean, Calle hit him. We took a penalty. If we start doing that, we're in trouble, so hopefully it gets looked at."
 
Any player who earns a match penalty "shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the commissioner has ruled on the issue,” according to league rules.
 
In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.
 
Jarnkrok did not return after the punch, but told reporters after the game he felt “OK.”
 
"I feel pretty good," Jarnkrok said. "Obviously, I saw him coming. There were a couple other guys coming, too. I didn't really know what to do. He got in a good punch on me.”