06/02/2002 4:28 PM ET
Umpire discusses Valentine ejection
Mets manager ejected in the seventh inning Saturday
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Umpire Ed Rapuano admitted bumping into Mets manager Bobby Valentine during a heated argument Saturday night at Pro Player Stadium.
|The Mets finished in last place for the first time in nine years and had their worst record since Bobby Valentine took over for Dallas Green. (J. Pat Carter/AP)
But the contact, the umpire said, was accidental.
"We both turned in the same direction and happened to bump shoulders," Rapuano said. "There was no intent to bump him."
After the incidental contact, Valentine became more irate, expletives flew, and the manager was promptly ejected.
Setting off the incident was the ejection of Mets All-Star catcher Mike Piazza, who was tossed out by home plate umpire Mark Wegner for arguing balls and strikes.
Rapuano, the crew chief and second base ump Saturday, spoke about the exchange with reporters Sunday before the Marlins' 7-3 win over New York. Rapuano declined comment after Saturday's 9-7 win by the Marlins.
Rapuano apologized to reporters for not speaking afterward, saying he was collecting his thoughts and filling out the standard ejection report to the league. The report was sent to umpire supervisor Rich Rieker.
Shortly after the ejections Saturday night, Mets general manager Steve Phillips gave a heads-up phone call to Ralph Nelson, the league's vice president of umpiring.
"I'd describe it as a nudge," Phillips said of the contact.
In the heat of the battle after Saturday's game, Valentine raised eyebrows by saying: "I was walking off the field when he bumped me. What is this, the Gestapo?"
"I, by no means, have had that reputation of having anything like that," said Rapuano, a 12-year veteran who he doesn't anticipate any lingering hard feelings with Valentine.
"I respect Bobby as a manager in Major League baseball, like I respect all managers," Rapuano said. "I hope he respects me as a Major League umpire. ... It was heated."
In the past, Valentine said on occasion he received some dirty looks from umpires after incidents.
Valentine on Sunday was ready to put the incident behind him.
"I've got other things to worry about," the manager said.
Joe Frisaro covers the Mets for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.