Earlier this year, Selena Roberts quoted anonymous former teammates of Alex Rodriguez who alleged the former Rangers shortstop made a practice of tipping pitches to opposing hitters during blowouts, and at least one observer has suggested former A’s SS Miguel Tejada received such assistance. In yesterday’s New York Times, David Waldstein revealed Tejada was suspected of the same thing, leading to a confrontation in the Oakland clubhouse during July of 2001.
Manager Art Howe, contrary to his laissez-faire style, was forced to address the issue. He spoke first on Tejada™s behalf, trying to quell the outrage. Then Jason Giambi, the unequivocal leader and biggest star on the team, laid out the players™ concerns.
œIt really shocked me to the point of disbelief, said Tim Hudson, then a young pitching star for the Athletics. œBut I figured, if that™s an issue where we need to clear the air a bit, then we need to clear the air a little bit.
œI think Ron Gant calmed it down before it snowballed into anything big, said Frank Menechino, an A’s infielder at the time, and now the hitting instructor for the Class AA Trenton Thunder. œLike: ˜Hey, man, we can™t worry about what the other teams are doing in this league. But we can™t pull the Dominican guys out of our team and suspect them of anything until we catch them.™ He basically calmed everything down. Everything was fine after that. I seriously can™t prove, say, yes or no, that guys were doing it. But who knows?
Hudson called Tejada, a six-time All-Star, œa great teammate and said he still found it impossible to believe that he would help the opposition.
What first raised suspicion among the 2001 A™s was an early May series in Toronto. Tejada and Blue Jays third baseman Tony Batista, friends from the Dominican Republic, each put up terrific numbers. In the three-game series, Batista went 6 for 13 with a home run and 5 runs batted in, and Tejada was 4 for 10 with 9 R.B.I., including a home run in each game.
More significant in the eyes of some of the players was an incident in the second game of the series. Tejada did not get to an easy ground ball Batista hit off reliever Mark Guthrie with the Athletics leading, 8-2. When the inning was over, A™s players fumed on the bench.
Tejada, now 35, said his teammates were skeptical because Batista dropped a foul pop-up he hit in the previous game.
œI would never do that, Tejada said. œI want to win. If my brother was on the other team, I would never help him.
Tejada, taking the day off with Houston visiting Arizona this afternoon, is obviously innocent until proven guilty. If you’re keeping score, however, this is the 3rd major ethical lapse Miggy’s been charged with, which should at the very least, give Milo Hamilton pause the next time he exhorts Astros fans to root for “the good guys”.