First baseman Jack Clark, the man they call the Ripper, decided Saturday he will leave the Padre organization in style, unleashing a vicious verbal attack on Manager Greg Riddoch.
Clark accuses Riddoch of being responsible for many of the organization’s 31 firings over the past 10 weeks, of back-stabbing everyone in his path, of being an incompetent manager and an evil person.
Oh yeah, he also promises revenge.
“When he gets off his high horse, and gets fired, there’ll be nobody to protect him,” Clark said. “That’s when he better start looking over his shoulder where there will be a lot of people looking for him. They want a piece of him.
“You make your bed, you lay in it, and if that’s the way you want it, you die in it.
“Payback’s a dog.”
Riddoch was spending the weekend in Sterling, Colo., and was unavailable for comment.
Clark, one of 16 players who were granted new-look free agency, insists that his anger toward Riddoch is not because the Padres no longer are interested in signing him. Instead, he says, it’s because of the way he believes Riddoch’s personality changed once he was promoted from first-base coach to manager at the All-Star break.
“Riddoch, my God, there’s not enough things I can say about that guy,” Clark said from his Danville, Calif., home.
But Clark tried anyway.
“He’s a bad, bad man,” Clark said, “and he’s sneaky. He’s a snake. Well, not just a snake, but a s-s-s-n-n-n-a-ke.
“The crazy thing is that I thought he was a good guy, but once he became manager, he turned out to be one of the biggest all-time snakes I’ve ever seen. He’ll stab anyone in the back to get to the top.
“I tell you, he and (Padre chairman) Tom Werner are a great combo. They deserve each other. They’re perfect together.”
Clark accuses Riddoch of being the man behind many of the club’s firings, and says that he also is responsible for the Sept. 21 firing of Jack McKeon as general manager.
“He’s back-stabbing everyone on his way to the top,” Clark said. “Who do you think did all of those firings? Who do you think got the trainers fired? Who do you think got the coaches fired? Who do you think got McKeon and everyone upstairs fired?
“Joe McIlvaine, come on, he doesn’t even know these people.
“It was our little buddy, Greggy.
“You couldn’t believe the stuff I’ve found out about the last couple of months. I got information from upper-echelon people in the organization, too. These were the people that were sitting in on the meetings, the ones where Riddoch was cutting my head off, along with just about everyone else he could think of.
“What he didn’t realize was that the people who got fired are talking now. These people are singing. I know what he told to Tom Werner, the way he buried me, because someone else was in that room, too. I heard everything, and the way he’s doing the same to three-quarters of the players on the team.
“Our little friend, the psychologist, is doing a number on us.”
This is why, Clark says, that he soon will begin making phone calls. The critical comments that Riddoch made in private meetings with management that were relayed to Clark will be disseminated to the players.
“I’m going to call Benito Santiago, Ed Whitson, Bruce Hurst, and all the guys that he’s been calling bums,” Clark said. “I’m going to make sure everyone understands his little game with him. I’m going to tell them what he’s been saying about them.
“He’s been sugar-coating everyone on top all right, and then blood-sucking you on the other side.
“Is this a guy you really want to play for?”
Clark, who also was quietly critical of Riddoch’s managerial skills during the season, along with several veterans, also decided to air his views on this subject.
“The guy is an absolute joke,” Clark said. “He’s so overmatched, and the sad thing is, the whole team knows he’s in over his head.
“The thing that tees me off is that we did so much to help him, especially at the start when he was a nervous wreck. He asked for all our help, telling us to take care of the young guys. But the more we watched him, we knew this guy didn’t have a clue on what he was doing.
“The guys on the team have to keep their mouths shut, but everyone in baseball knows what a lousy manager he is. They laugh at us.
“Watch, it’ll be the same this year. He’ll have these kindergarten tactics, he’ll use all his psychology crap, and he’ll try to bully the young players with them.
“What it is, is that he’s got this little-man syndrome, like we’re supposed to kneel down in front of him like he’s God. But the guy is useless, totally useless.
“His best job would be as a minor league coordinator, but for him to manage a big-league club is an absolute joke. I feel sorry for everyone who has to stay there.”
Clark, actually, still remains a member of the Padres himself. Although he’s a free agent, and is expected to receive serious bids from several clubs such as the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, Clark belongs contractually to the Padres. If he were to receive no offers, the Padres still would have Clark under contract, which would be determined by an arbitration hearing.
But once the Padres made the four-player trade Wednesday with the Toronto Blue Jays to acquire first baseman Fred McGriff and shortstop Tony Fernandez, they no longer needed his services.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter because of the trades or the players they let go,” Clark said. “I think Fred McGriff and Fernandez are fabulous players. I think it was a good move by Joe McIlvaine to get guys like that. I respect a man for having the guts to pull off a trade like that.
“But they’re going backwards with a guy like Riddoch, and the sooner off they realize it, the better off they’ll be. They lost all their tradition with this guy. And when he fails, watch, he’ll say they’re rebuilding.
“My God, how long are the fans of San Diego going to put up with that crap? When are they ever going to have a good team, 20 years from now, when my baby grows up?
“And don’t blame this on Jack McKeon. He’s a friend of mine. He’s as honest as the day is long, but Greg did everything he could to destroy him.
“Now, the man has to be stopped.
“Personally, I hope he doesn’t make it to the All-Star break.
“Then I can’t wait to see him.”