ATLANTA — Just 28 days after Jack McKeon stepped into the Padre clubhouse with promises of peace, another war has broken out.
In the wake of Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves, Eric Show, a normally placid veteran pitcher, lashed out at McKeon. That led to raised voices and slammed doors and a clubhouse disturbance that even would register high on the Larry Bowa scale.
At issue was a questionable fielding play by left fielder Keith Moreland that led to two of the Braves' runs in a four-run first. Manager McKeon and pitching coach Pat Dobson started the fuss by refusing to acknowledge Moreland's part in Show's downfall.
"Lay off the left fielder, lay off the left fielder," McKeon snapped to members of the media. "He didn't throw the pitches up there. He didn't give up four runs in the first inning."
Show, upon requesting and hearing McKeon's comments, responded: "Everybody saw what happened out there. If (McKeon) doesn't like it, get rid of me. If they want to make excuses for what happened and blame it on me, fine. Trade me. If they don't like it, trade me. I regret Dobson's comments, and as for McKeon, I'm ashamed for him."
With that, Show stomped out of the clubhouse. When Show's statements were related to him, McKeon, still in uniform, chased Show down a nearby tunnel and called him back for an impromptu meeting.
They went inside McKeon's office and closed the door. There were loud words. Show left the office and slammed the door behind him.
"I've talked to him. The case is closed," said McKeon.
Whatever, for the first time since the Padres made everybody happy with the firing of Larry Bowa on May 28, the reign of Jack McKeon has blown a tire. Could it be that even Camelot has potholes?
It all occurred at a rather predictable time--two days after the Padres blew a three-run lead with two out in the ninth inning in San Francisco and wasted their chance to sweep a three-game road series for the first time in two years.
They left Candlestick Park 15-11 under McKeon, the best record in the division during that time. But they walked into the 85-degree temperature at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium Friday literally hot and still a little bothered.
Then came the fifth hitter in the bottom of the first inning with the game still a scoreless tie. With Show pitching and two out and runners on first and second, Ted Simmons lofted a ball to shallow left field.
As hard as Moreland ran, he could not get it. The ball fell for a run-scoring single. When Moreland's throw home hit runner Dion James in the feet as he rounded third, another run scored. There was no Padre covering third because both third baseman Randy Ready and shortstop Garry Templeton had chased down the Simmons fly.
Show then allowed back-to-back RBI doubles to left by Andres Thomas and Ozzie Virgil, and the Padres could never catch up.
First, Moreland's reasoning for not catching the ball:
"The way we were positioned to play Simmons (hitting left-handed), I had a long way to go to get that ball. He's been a pull hitter all his career. I had to be over in left-center. It was one of those things that fell in."
Now, Moreland's reasoning for the throw:
"I never saw the guy (James). I threw it down the line and there he was. If I miss him, the ball is on line to the plate."
Now, Dobson's reasoning for what happened:
"The truth is, I don't think that ball should have been caught. Those weren't the two runs that beat (Show). I think after the Simmons hit, he had no concentration. He said, 'Here goes, another stupid run off me.' And he forgot about the next hitters."
And McKeon's reasoning, backing up Dobson:
"How about those shots down the line that (Moreland) couldn't get? Give the guy (Moreland) a break. That's been three times Show has gotten beat in early innings. Damned if I know why. Maybe next time we'll tell him the first inning is the fourth inning."
Finally, Show's response to the media:
"I hope everybody who reads what you're about to write saw the game. The first thing I thought after the (Moreland) play was, 'Get ahead of the hitter.' What am I supposed to think, throw a ball? I am ashamed of both of them (McKeon and Dobson) for comments like that. The two hitters after that play, they both hit first pitches. The percentages of first pitches that are hit are very low, or so I'm told. I'll take responsibility for those two hits."
And whose responsibility was the Moreland play?
"I can't comment on that," Show said, "particularly with my perceived mind association patterns."
Who knows, maybe all of this will be good for Show, who allowed four runs on five hits in his five innings as he fell to 5-8 with a 3.98 earned-run average.
Remember what happened after April 18 in Los Angeles, when he allowed 6 runs in 2 innings? He was so frustrated by the play around him, he intimated that he might be better off traded.