The South Atlantic League fined Asheville Tourists manager Joe Mikulik $1,000 and suspended him for seven days in response to Mikulik's all-star fit in the fifth inning of Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Lexington Legends at Applebee's Park in Lexington.
Mikulik disagreed with a safe call on a pick-off attempt by Tourists pitcher Brandon Durden. In disputing the call, Mikulik used the entire manager's repertoire of argumentative techniques.
Chris Smith, the assistant general manager of the Tourists, had been expecting a fine and a suspension, and he thinks those levied against Mikulik are fair under the circumstances.
"This is about in line with what we expected," Smith said. Smith added that the suspension of Mikulik is the longest managerial suspension in team history, breaking the six-game record set by manager Bobby Ramos in 1993.
Mikulik was unavailable for comment.
All this fuss over a pick-off attempt?
"I do a thorough investigation whenever I suspend someone, especially managers and coaches, simply because their skills are needed in the development of players," said John Moss, president of the South Atlantic League. "I always get several different viewpoints so I can make sure everyone gets fair and equal judgment, and this case is no different."
The punishment may sound extreme, but so was Mikulik's tantrum. He went ballistic when Koby Clemens (Roger Clemens' son) was called safe at second base on Durden's pick-off attempt.
After storming the field to protest the call, the seventh-year manager went nose-to-nose with first-base umpire Andy Russell, before reenacting Clemens' slide into second base. He then uprooted second base from the dirt, showed it to Russell then heaved it into center field. He kicked dirt onto home plate, cleaned it with bottled water, then spiked the water bottle, sending the remaining water flying. He also threw the pitchers' resin bag toward first base and unloaded several bats onto the field from the dugout.
Marc Gustafson, the director of player development for the Colorado Rockies, weighed in on the issue.
"From our standpoint, this issue is behind us," Gustafson said. "Joe brings hard work, energy, passion and enthusiasm to the ballpark every day. That's what we expect from him, and that's what we will continue to expect from him in the future. Obviously, he's remorseful for what happened, but it's time to move on. It's not about Joe, it's not about the umpires, it's about developing our players. We have two games tonight, so we're just going to move forward."
Mikulik will begin serving his suspension today for the Tourists' doubleheader against the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Dan Pieringer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.