Padre Manager Greg Riddoch's voice was steady and composed as he spoke, camouflaging the anger and frustration raging inside.
For the first time Tuesday, before the Padres' 6-3 defeat to the Dodgers at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, Riddoch revealed his feelings in what he says has been a cruel and unfair attack by several members of the media.
"I think our entire organization has been treated unjustly by the print media in this town," Riddoch said. "It's been totally unfair, it's been unprofessional and a lot of it has been complete lies.
"I've been here for seven years, and it's been the same song and dance.
"I'm sick of it."
Riddoch's outburst was triggered when Padre shortstop Tony Fernandez became the latest Padre veteran to question Riddoch's managerial style. Riddoch, however, says the criticism is provoked by the media.
"The game of baseball isn't even being reported any more," Riddoch said, "it's all the other crap. It's not everybody. It's not the TV or radio people; they've been very fair. It's only two or three print media I'm talking about.
"They try to bring us down to their level. The worst aspect of my whole job is watching certain people take something minute and make the Statue of Liberty out of it.
"Something is being blown out of proportion every day."
Lately, several stories have resulted in confrontations between two members of Riddoch's staff and reporters.
The tension has been understandable.
Riddoch and his coaches have yet to be informed of their status for the 1993 season, and as the season's end nears, there's growing speculation that Riddoch and at least one of his coaches will be fired.
Riddoch has not had any contract talks with Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, nor has McIlvaine offered any encouragement that Riddoch will be retained. Instead, McIlvaine says Riddoch's fate will be decided at the season's finish.
Riddoch, who earns $225,000, says he is not so much concerned over his welfare. He has been in baseball for 22 years, working on virtually every level, and should have little difficulty remaining in the game.
"But people don't understand what my coaching staff is going through," Riddoch said. "They're good people. They work their asses off every day. But no one says a word. No one says, 'Nice going,' but me."
Riddoch's coaching staff indeed is considered among the most hard-working in baseball. They are at the park at least five hours before game time, and have been serious in their approach the entire season.
"The things is, it doesn't matter how well they've done," Riddoch said. "If a manager doesn't come back, there are coaches that go with him. It goes with the territory.
"That's why all of this is so unfair. It's a difficult enough job without guys stirring it up all of the time. That's why I don't spend 25 cents to read the San Diego newspapers anymore. I can save myself money and make up all the lies myself.
"Our players have worked hard, our front office has been outstanding, and nobody ever hears a word about it.
"It's hard to sit back and take, but that's what I've done."
Meanwhile, the Padres are struggling to find solace on the playing field. Although the Padres (76-68) have played their regulars all month, they have lost six of their last eight games. Most embarrassing, they also have lost six of their last eight against the lowly Dodgers.
The most entertaining aspect of the game Tuesday for the crowd of 9,997 was watching Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda's tirade in the third inning, leading to his third ejection of the season.
Lasorda's tirade was triggered by Padre third baseman Gary Sheffield's defensive gem in the top of the third. The play not only saved Padre starter Jim Deshaies (4-5) one run, but possibly two runs.
The scenario unfolded like this: The Dodgers had runners on first and second with no outs, and Mike Sharperson at the plate. Lasorda sent the runners, and Sharperson hit a screaming grounder toward the third-base bag.
Sheffield dived head-first and smothered the ball. He stepped on third for one out, and back to first base for the double-play. The crowd gave a rousing ovation, and moments later, the inning ended when Eric Karros grounded to shortstop Tony Fernandez.
Dodger starter Orel Hersishier, apparently not sharing the Padres' enthusiasm for Sheffield's defensive gem, drilled Sheffield in the left shoulder when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the third.
Sheffield, who also was hit in the left thigh in the first inning, made a step toward the mound before deciding against charging Hershiser. He walked slowly to first base, and crew chief Harry Wendelstedt decided it was time to issue a warning to both benches. The next time someone was hit, the pitcher and manager would be ejected, Wendelstedt said.
Lasorda immediately came out of the dugout and argued that no warning should be given. Wendelstedt said the warnings would stick. Two batters later, with Padre catcher Benito Santiago at the plate, Lasorda could no longer control his emotions and started yelling at home-plate umpire Larry Poncino.
Poncino turned around, and ejected Lasorda, suspending the game for a few minutes of theater.
The most suspense the remainder of the game was seeing whether Deshaies would retaliate when he faced Hershiser in the fifth inning. Instead, he gave up a single to Hershiser, and one inning later was out of the game.
The Dodgers scored four runs off Deshaies and reliever Rich Rodriguez in the sixth, and broke open the game with two runs in the ninth off reliever Tim Scott.
Triple Crown Watch
Gary Sheffield, Padres: .335
Andy Van Slyke, Pittsburgh: .333
John Kruk, Philadelphia: .324 Home Runs
Fred McGriff, Padres: 34
Gary Sheffield, Padres: 31
Barry Bonds, Pittsburgh: 29 Runs Batted In
Darren Daulton, Philadelphia: 100
Gary Sheffield, Padres: 95
Terry Pendleton, Braves: 95