Players Behaving Badly

This past weekend, the Texas Rangers released their #3 starter, much-traveled and much-troubled veteran pitcher Sidney Ponson. While declining to get too specific about the reasons for the move, Rangers GM Jon Daniels said the team's action was triggered by Ponson's...

"...disrespectful and adverse reactions to situations that were unbecoming of a teammate. We want guys who want to be here. We're trying to put together a team here, and based on some comments and reactions, he didn't want to be part of that. That's not something we're going to tolerate."

Evan Grant's story in Saturday's Dallas News cites multiple sources in reporting that Ponson, who was a more than respectable 4-1, 3.88 (108 ERA+) for the Rangers this year, was hacked off over "a disagreement in (his) pitching schedule."

After pitching on three days' rest last Wednesday, Ponson was told he would have to go five days before his next outing so Kevin Millwood could go on his normal four days' rest. Ponson then challenged the Rangers to release him.

Grant writes:
According to the sources, however, problems began to fester more than a week ago when the Rangers were in Tampa Bay.

The night before his start against the Rays, according to the sources, Ponson was seen late in the evening in the hotel bar. The next day, he lasted only five innings and allowed 12 hits in a 7-3 loss.

Club officials spoke with Ponson, 31, about comportment after the incident and reiterated the "one-strike" stance they took when they signed him in March. In essence, the club said it would cut ties if he had one behavioral issue.

Sound like a short leash? Well, only if you're not up on your Sidney Ponson history:

Three years ago, Ponson was cut by the Orioles after two alcohol-related arrests in the space of nine months. The year before, he spent 11 days in jail in his native Aruba for assaulting a judge.

The question isn't whether or not someone will give Ponson yet another chance; it's who will be first in line.

The loose connection between the Ponson story and the Cubs' adventures this past weekend was Carlos Zambrano's own meltdown Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. The incident was triggered by Zambrano's frustration with himself after he allowed the Dodgers 7 runs and 13 hits over 6 2/3 innings. Since it happened a couple days ago, I won't recount the details, but last I heard, neither of the Gatorade coolers assaulted by the Cubs ace are planning to press charges.

Finally there is the case of Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who got into a dugout brawl with Manny Ramirez last Thursday during a game in Tampa.

Per Enrique Rojas, writing for
A Red Sox source told that the cause of the dugout disagreement was Youkilis' temper following a poor at-bat.

"It all happened because Manny complained about Youkilis' habit of throwing bats, helmets and other objects in the dugout when he has a bad at-bat, something that has become a constant practice," the source said.

"Other players have told Youkilis in the past about the situation, which makes him look selfish and that he is more worried about each at-bat than about the team. If Boston is winning easily, there's no reason to throw objects all over the dugout because of a bad at-bat.

"There was a meeting where the team let Youkilis know that many of his teammates were tired of his explosive reactions for each bad plate appearance. It became very bothersome … more so when the team is winning and it's in first place. There's not much room for individualistic attitudes."

I mention the latter case, because Zambrano's eruption struck me much as Youkilis's explosions apparently were perceived by his fellow Sox, as a self-centered and unnecessary distraction from the game at hand. The good news is, Carlos has performed so well this season, he has had little reason to think about going berserk. I hope that continues to be the case.

And I hope Sidney Ponson's next Major League paycheck is signed by someone other than Crane Kenney.


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