Royals return champagne, MLB pokes around

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Monday afternoon, the Twins received a telephone call from the commissioner’s office. The Twins contacted the Royals, who agreed to send all four bottles of Dom Perignon back to Minnesota. Yes, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, those bottles are still unopened.

“I’m to blame as much as anybody because I didn’t know the rule,” Ryan said. “We’ll end up righting the wrong. We’ve already contacted the Royals. They’re going to return the goods, and hopefully that’ll be the end of it.”

The general manager of a major league team didn’t know the rule on misconduct posted in every clubhouse? The rule on betting and bribery? I’m surprised that would be the case.

The paper does quote Ryan on why it’s important:

By letting Hunter’s gesture pass, MLB would have to consider the precedent.

“Integrity of the game; it’s as simple as that,” Ryan said. “This is an honest, trivial exchange, but it could grow into something different if you let it get away.”

We’ll see what happens.


#1 Donald on 04.24.07 at 10:12 am

Wow. I never would have made the connection. But I guess if it all starts with a bottle of champagne, it moves to whores and drugs, then Escalades and houses. The next thing you know, Dan Uggla owns an island near St. Barts because of a walk-off homer he hit to knock the Cardnals out of the Wild Card.
Nobody has cared about the “integrity” of the game since Mark McGwire. Or was it Sammy Sosa…Or Barry Bonds..Pete Rose? Or was it Steve Howe? What about the DH? Oh, I’m sure integrity is still importaint.

#2 Adam S on 04.24.07 at 10:52 am

I wonder what MLB will do here. Unlike the F-Rod incident, they can’t simply clear him of cheating. It’s apparent Hunter broke Rule 21 with both the offer and again with the delivery of the champagne. You could pass the offer off as just kidding around, but once he actually sends it, he’s toast. That the Royals returned the gift doesn’t really seem to matter, except that it clears them of wrong doing.

That said, suspending Hunter for three years for a $600 token of appreciation, when the roster was paid ~$200,000 just for showing up, seems ridiculous. But as you’ve said it’s a slippery slope. If $600 is OK, what about $6000, what about $60,000, and at $600,000 we certainly have a problem.

My hope is they suspend Hunter for 3-7 days.

#3 Marmaniac on 04.24.07 at 11:29 am

Dear Derek

Stop Snitching

#4 nate on 04.24.07 at 11:43 am

you know this topic, and your blog got airtime this morning on the Dan Patrick show (ESPN Radio).

he’s going to interview Torii Hunter in 5 minutes regarding this issue.

keep up the good work.

#5 KB on 04.24.07 at 12:58 pm

Get a life CCTB. I think it was great you busted KRod, but this is weak.

#6 kenshin on 04.24.07 at 1:34 pm

I find it interesting that this revelation did not engender the same venom from Twins fans as “cap-gate” did from Angels fans. I wonder what that says….

I really hope Hunter walks away from this with no more than a warning. Do you think he is facing an actual suspension?

#7 Alex on 04.24.07 at 1:40 pm

This bog entry was just discussed on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.

#8 Zack on 04.24.07 at 1:42 pm

So I’m watching PTI, hearing about this story for the first time, and they drop your blog as the source! As a USSM reader I just started cracking up; you’re going to piss off the entire MLB fan base by the end of the year.

By the way, Wilbon thinks you should be banned from baseball or something.

Keep up the good work!

#9 Ian Mullet on 04.24.07 at 1:58 pm

Hunter had two hits, two runs, a double and an rbi in the game after the royals discovered champagne in their locker room. It was his best game of the weekend series and the only game that the twins won. I don’t think one thing has to do with the other, but if players started giving gifts to each other regularly such correlations that a skeptical fan might naturally draw would harm the integrity of the game.

#10 Katal on 04.24.07 at 4:11 pm

Ha, I just heard at Lookout Landing that PTI advocated that you should be banned from baseball. I have no idea how that would actually work, but the thought is amusing. Crazy ol’ ESPN.

I’m looking forward to attending your book signing at Elliott Bay this weekend, too.

Keep it up!

#11 zzyzx on 04.24.07 at 6:11 pm

Can’t you find something on the Yankees now please before they start winning? ;)

#12 DK on 04.24.07 at 6:26 pm

It’s funny how blind internet rage leads to people gnarling and gnashing about something that they obviously don’t know everything about. It’s not like Derek is running to the MLB offices and tattling on players that appear to be cheating. He’s simply pointing out these transgressions on a blog, for whoever wants to read. I think people need to put down their pitchforks and torches. A little bit of common sense goes a long way.

#13 Mat on 04.24.07 at 7:30 pm

Hunter had two hits, two runs, a double and an rbi in the game after the royals discovered champagne in their locker room. It was his best game of the weekend series and the only game that the twins won. I don’t think one thing has to do with the other, but if players started giving gifts to each other regularly such correlations that a skeptical fan might naturally draw would harm the integrity of the game.

That’s an excellent point. Even perceived throwing of games, whether it’s actually the case or not, is bad for the sport.

#14 david h on 04.24.07 at 8:27 pm

Eric Young on Baseball Tonight just commented that this sort of thing happens all the time! Maybe he’ll be the Jose Canseco of gift-giving.

#15 Ian Mullet on 04.24.07 at 8:31 pm

Also I don’t like the timing of this gift — coming the day before Greinke pitches. Who knows how an act of friendship such as this might affect him. We live in an age where we are constantly attributing psychological affects on a player’s performance: are they cluch? do they choke? so why shouldn’t we be concerned when Hunter gives out gifts that could unconciously affect a pitcher’s performance? especially zack greinke. sorry if what follows sounds disrespectful, but here is a person who has struggled with social anxiety disorder and loneliness. if an opponent makes overt gestures of friendship before he pitches it could cause him to lose focus. i doubt this was hunter’s intention or its effect on greinke. but that’s why rules are in place so we don’t have to make those judgments. and, yes, player’s have take advantage of another’s good nature in the past. Cobb used to crowd the plate when Walter Johnson pitched, because he knew Johnson was too nice a guy to take a chance at hitting him and so he would throw outside.

#16 jason on 04.25.07 at 7:38 am

I understand the whole integrity thing, but it was four bottles of bubbly…it was a simple joke–who would have thought the royals would beat detroit last year allowing the twins to win the division…i think it’s funny. torii has the upmost respect for the game and is a class act–a couple game suspension or a $20,000 fine will suffice

#17 Rob G. on 04.25.07 at 10:04 am

sorry if this is a repeat, but on XM radio this morning they had an interview and Torii Hunter basically said something to the tune of it’s no big deal, but some geek (heavy emphasis on the word and big chuckle from the hosts) on the Internet had to bring it up to draw attention to his site (major paraphrasing on my part).

It was on Buck Martinez’s show fwiw, maybe it’s available somewhere online.

Thought you’d get a laugh, guess Torii Hunter won’t be sending you any champagne.

#18 Evan on 04.25.07 at 1:20 pm

MLB needs to enforce this rule – as written. Both Hunter and Sweeney should be suspended.

#19 Disco on 04.25.07 at 9:21 pm

Hunter should have just sent the wine to Sweeney’s house or not sent it at all.

Either way, I’ll be irate if they punish Hunter at all. It is completely hypocritical to suspend a guy for sending wine when Barry Bonds is obviously taking steroids and cheating. That is a much bigger fish to fry.

Let’s go after the big ones.

#20 tangotiger on 04.26.07 at 7:13 am

The earlier reader makes the best point: Derek is simply writing whatever he wants in his own blog. This is what blogs are for! If Derek wrote a book about cheaters, and he has a blog that talks about cheating, isn’t it natural that he actually points out the *possibility* that there might be something that might violate a rule?

If you have a problem, take it up with ESPN which gave it tons of airplay.

ESPN can’t bemoan the fact that someone wrote something in his own journal that just a handful of people see, and then make sure that millions of people know about it!

If they want to treat Derek like a suicide jumper (a topic that virtually all news organizations don’t report on), then fine. But, don’t report it, and then blame the guy that jumping was a news story that he forced everyone else to make.

#21 Simon Oliver Lockwoo on 04.26.07 at 6:00 pm

The amusing thing is that while everyone is busily denouncing DMZ for pointing out what happened in a light-hearted way, Lee Sinis in his Around the Majors report actually seems to be serious in advocating that Hunter be punished for what he did.