Baseball: Schott sees red over writer's pooper scoop

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The Independent Online
THE capacity of the Cincinnati Reds to self-destruct in times of adversity took a bizarre twist on Sunday when Marge Schott, the team's irascible owner, had to go to hospital with a dog bite after she tried to break up a fight between one of her St Bernards, the club mascots, and a stray dog outside her home. She said it might have been her own dog that bit her.

Schott's misfortune must have brought some amusement to the Reds pitcher, Tim Belcher, who had criticised Schott in the Cincinnati Post on Saturday for giving Schottzie 02, the first-team mascot, the freedom of the Riverfront Stadium field during pre-game warm-ups. When the mutt is not chasing the players, it is cocking its leg over the third-base bag, or worse, frequently causing the groundsman to break off from his grass-tending duties to get out the pooper-scooper.

The owner's response to such insubordination was to starve the messenger. When Jerry Crasnick, the Post reporter who had interviewed Belcher, arrived for Saturday's game, he learned that Schott had barred him from the stadium dining room.

Midway through the game, a delivery man arrived in the press box with three pizzas, a bag of sandwiches and a handwritten note from Belcher. 'Your article represented my thoughts very well,' the note said. 'I would hate to see you 'waste away' without something to eat during the game. Therefore, please accept this food and share it with your 'scooped' friends. Belch.'

Next to his name was a pawprint and '02'.

The 'dog bites owner' story seemed to add some zip to Belcher's game on Sunday. While Schott was having her wounds tended, the Reds starting pitcher was striking out a career-best 13 San Diego batters and pitching a complete game as Cincinnati defeated the Padres 6-1.

Belcher certainly ended the game in better humour than his team-mate Rob Dibble had last Thursday, when the press stood spellbound in the Cincinnati clubhouse as the team's manager Lou Piniella wrestled the former Nasty Boy to the ground after Dibble had accused him of lying about the state of his shoulder.

Piniella, who once ripped first base from its moorings to protest an umpire's call, but had this season kept his legendary temper in check despite the Reds' falling 7 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League West, was pulled off Dibble by towel-wrapped players. As he stormed back to his office, Piniella turned to the assembled media, and said: 'You all saw it. Write it.'

Many believe the season in Cincinnati will end with a 'Schott bites Piniella' story, with the owner firing her manager and Bob Quinn, the general manager. Piniella and Quinn masterminded the dazzling series of trades last winter that made the Reds many people's World Series favourites, until a number of serious injuries destroyed their championship hopes after the All-Star break.

Now Schott sees only the dollars 35m (pounds 20m) payroll and no pennant flying over Riverfront, rather than the team-building that turned the Reds back into genuine contenders. Perhaps sensing the inevitable, Piniella says only: 'Let the chips fall where they may.'

----------------------------------------------------------------- MAJOR LEAGUE DETAILS ----------------------------------------------------------------- AMERICAN LEAGUE: Texas Rangers 7 Toronto Blue Jays 5; Chicago White Sox 10 Cleveland Indians 8; Boston Red Sox 5 Detroit Tigers 4; Milwaukee Brewers 9 Baltimore Orioles 3; New York Yankees 10 Kansas City Royals 4; Minnesota Twins 7 California Angels 5; Oakland Athletics 4 Seattle Mariners 2. ----------------------------------------------------------------- EASTERN DIVISION ----------------------------------------------------------------- W L Pct GB Toronto Blue Jays. . . . . . 88 63 .583 - Milwaukee Brewers. . . . . . 83 66 .557 4 Baltimore Orioles. . . . . . 81 67 .547 5 1/2 Cleveland Indians. . . . . . 70 79 .470 17 Detroit Tigers. . . . . . . .70 79 .470 17 New York Yankees. . . . . . .70 79 .470 17 Boston Red Sox. . . . . . . .67 82 .450 20 ----------------------------------------------------------------- WESTERN DIVISION ----------------------------------------------------------------- Oakland Athletics. . . . . . 91 58 .611 - Minnesota Twins. . . . . . . 83 67 .553 8 1/2 Chicago White Sox. . . . . . 80 68 .541 10 1/2 Texas Rangers. . . . . . . . 72 79 .477 20 California Angels. . . . . . 67 82 .450 24 Kansas City Royals. . . . . .65 83 .439 25 1/2 Seattle Mariners. . . . . . .57 92 .383 34

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Pittsburgh Pirates 3 Philadelphia Phillies 2 (13); New York Mets 1 Montreal Expos 0; Atlanta Braves 16 Houston Astros 1; Cincinnati Reds 6 San Diego Padres 1; St Louis Cardinals 16 Chicago Cubs 4; San Francisco Giants 3 Los Angeles Dodgers 2. ----------------------------------------------------------------- EASTERN DIVISION ----------------------------------------------------------------- W L Pct GB Pittsburgh Pirates. . . . . 88 61 .591 - Montreal Expos. . . . . . . 82 67 .550 6 St Louis Cardinals. . . . . 75 73 .507 12 1/2 Chicago Cubs. . . . . . . . 74 75 .497 14 New York Mets. . . . . . . .67 81 .453 20 1/2 Philadelphia Phillies. . . .59 88 .401 28 ----------------------------------------------------------------- WESTERN DIVISION ----------------------------------------------------------------- Atlanta Braves. . . . . . . 89 59 .601 - Cincinnati Reds. . . . . . .82 67 .550 7 1/2 San Diego Padres. . . . . . 77 71 .520 12 Houston Astros. . . . . . . 72 77 .483 17 1/2 San Francisco Giants. . . . 66 83 .443 23 1/2 Los Angeles Dodgers. . . . .60 89 .403 29 1/2 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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