Tunnel scrap leads to 14 games for Jacoby

 * Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby, shown earlier this season talking behind the batting cage with manager John Gibbons, was suspended 14 games for an altercation with umpire Doug Eddings in the tunnel leaving the field at Fenway Park last week. The Jays are appealing the suspension. ....  

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By Bob Elliott

Things went so well for the Blue Jays on their recent trip ...

How well did it go?

They lost seven of 10 to fall into last place in the American League East.

Three key members of their opening day roster to triple-A Buffalo.

And ... hitting coach Brook Jacoby was suspended 14 games without pay “for post-game conduct toward the umpiring crew” as the umps and the Jays headed up the tunnel after Wednesday night’s game at Fenway Park.

Jacoby’s post-game conduct was apparently shoving umpire Doug Eddings according to those in the industry.

The Jays lost 4-1 as plate ump Adrian Johnson rung up pinch hitter Russell Martin with no one on in the top of the ninth for the final out.

As the umps and Jays headed up the cramped tunnel, a shouting match ensued with coaches and players yelling at the umpires ... so we’re told by people in the know.

Jacoby supposedly told Johnson that he had missed the pitch 2-2 pitch from Koji Uehara.

One umpire supposedly shot back “your team didn’t hit all night anyway.”

And then we’re told Jacoby shoved Eddings, who was working third base and was not even involved in the play.

News broke on the suspension half an hour before the first pitch, which was too late to ask Jacoby or manager John Gibbons for their versions of Wednesday’s Fenway tunnel ride.

The Jays said only players will comment on the matter until the appeal process is over.

The players no doubt will support Jacoby, their hard-working hitting coach, who has them leading the AL in runs scored.

“It didn’t happen the way they said it did, I was there,” said Edwin Encarnacion, “I heard the report said Brook pushed him against the wall. That didn’t happen. There was just a lot of loud talking and yelling.”

The umpires will no doubt support crew chief Bill Miller’s report.

Likely the deciding factor in this, he-said, she-said, he-shoved, no-he-didn’t appeal will be a report from the security staff at Fenway Park.

There aren't security cameras in the tunnel.

Unlike a player who can still have his at-bats or take his turn in the rotation while an appeal is under suspension, suspended coaches are suspended once the game starts. He can still be on the field prior to the game.

The Jays are appealing so Jacoby won’t lose out on his pay and want the suspension dropped or reduced so he can go back to helping in-game as he usually does.

It’s a good thing that the Jays created the new position of assistant hitting coach for Eric Owens.

The ump probably didn’t use the wisest judgement with his “you guys didn’t hit all night line,” he was accurate. The Jays managed two singles -- by Ryan Goins and Encarnacion -- and a double by Kevin Pillar facing Rick Porcello, Junichi Tazawa and Uehara.

And Jacoby given his druthers would have said something witty like “you try walking up this runway with you bunch after we’ve just lost four out of five” rather than shoving Eddings.

At Fenway Park, like at the Rogers Centre, umpires exit through the visitor’s dugout sharing a small amount of space with players. In Boston it’s a long, cramped tunnel leading to the visiting clubhouse and the umpire’s locker room.

The exit policy has since been changed at Fenway and teams must remain in the dugout until the umpires leave the field.

Is 14-games a long suspension?

It’s a lot of pay for a coach, almost 9% of the season.

We do remember Pete Rose being suspended 30 games for an on-field altercation with Dave Pallone at Riverfront Stadium, when Rose was managing the Cincinnati Reds in 1988. Pallone was umpiring first and called New York Mets safe on a bang-bang play as the game winner scored.

Rose raced out and there was plenty of finger poking by each man. Rose claimed Pallone poked him in the face and Rose shoved Pallone, was ejected and shoved the ump again. Fans pelted the field with debris. Rose was also fined $10,000 in addition to his loss of pay as manager.

Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell was suspended 14 days for comments directed to fans in San Francisco in 2011.

The Blue Jays survived the Joe Brinkman-Ernie Whitt feud, which begat the Brinkman-Cito Gaston feud.

They went through the Brett Lawrie helmet-tossing incident at Miller.

A last-place team does not need this extra burden to carry the rest of the season.