Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Odd Moments: A night in Oakland.

Ok, so the past two nights in Detroit have been frustrating. Enough to get me a little wound up. Not as wound up as several Rangers players got in a bizarre incident in Oakland in 2004. That's the next installment in T.R. Sullivan's 50 Strange Occurrences list.

September 13, 2004. Texas was in Oakland to play a set at the Coliseum.

One thing that's important to know about the Coliseum and A's fans - the razzing of visiting teams. C.J. Wilson commented on that on his blog a season or two ago. During the 2001 season my brother was stationed at Monterrey, California. He is a big A's fan and took advantage of the situation to go to the Coliseum. Even he commented on the fans giving the visiting bullpen a hard time during the games. In 2003 a fan threw a cell phone and hit Ranger Carl Everett on the back of the head.

The stage appeared set for confrontation. Manager Buck Showalter would later complain of the lack of security and state that the Rangers had always had trouble in Oakland.

During the game the fans taunted and harassed the Rangers bullpen as per the normal routine. By the ninth inning nerves were wearing thin. What happened next though was totally unexpected. Pitcher Doug Brocail, shown here on card number 112 of the 2005 MLB Showndown Trading Deadline set, claimed that a fan began to taunt him about his recently stillborn child. The fan, Craig Bueno, later got a lawyer and refused to comment on what he might have said. Dave Rinetti, A's vice president of stadium operations said that the fans never swore or yelled racial slurs at the players. Don't have to do that to get into a stillbirth. Whatever was said, Showalter claimed that it, "went over the line."

Brocail lost his cool (understandable if his account was accurate) as did several other members of the bullpen. A scuffle broke out and the dugout cleared. During the melee Frank Francisco picked up a plastic chair and threw it into the stands. The chair hit Jennifer Bueno, Craig's wife, in the face. The blow broke her nose and left a cut that took stitches to close. Doug Brocail was restrained by coach Mark Conner and several teammates as he screamed at a male fan (probably Craig Bueno). Security quickly rushed to the area and ended the altercation.

Frank Francisco was arrested the next morning on a $15,000 bond. The Buenos would later file a civil suit that was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 2007. Tom Hicks apologized for the players actions. The A's finally beefed up security. Commissioner Bud Selig wasn't happy. Frank Francisco received a 16 game suspension that was later reduced to 15 games. He also pled no contest to the criminal charges and had to attend anger management counseling. Doug Brocail was suspended for six games. Carlos Almanzar was suspended for four games. The incident effectively gutted the Rangers bullpen for the remainder of the season.

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