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Umpire Gets Suspension

Every player who has charged the mound this season has received a minimum three-game suspension. Umpire John Shulock, in one of baseball’s more bizarre incidents this season, charged the mound against Tampa Bay pitcher Wilson Alvarez in Edison Field Monday night and received the same punishment from the American League Friday: a three-game suspension.

Shulock fumed after Devil Ray catcher Mike DiFelice appeared to make a half-hearted attempt to catch a high fastball that hit Shulock in the face mask in the third inning. Alvarez had been complaining about Shulock’s calls all game.

The umpire had a heated discussion with Alvarez and DiFelice and was still upset after the game, when he told reporters, “I hope somebody smokes a line drive off [Alvarez’s] head. I’ll be the first to laugh.”

The league, in a press release, frowned on Shulock’s “overly aggressive behavior, display of temper, inappropriate public remarks and physical contact with DiFelice,” suspending Shulock for the final three games this season and fining him an undisclosed amount.

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“That was the first time I’ve ever seen that,” Angel third-base coach Larry Bowa said of Shulock’s mound visit.

Did the Angels think the Devil Rays were throwing at Shulock?

“It takes some great control to hit an umpire in the face mask,” interim Manager Joe Maddon said. “It could have been a cross between the pitcher and catcher. If you’re looking for a breaking ball and get a fastball, you’re going to miss it.”

Maddon couldn’t quite understand the Devil Rays’ motives if they were throwing at Shulock.

“If you’re going to use that as a vehicle to get an umpire on your side for the rest of the game,” Maddon said, “I think that’s the wrong way to go about it.”

*

They paid $517 million for a retractable-roof stadium in Seattle . . . and the Angels and Mariners still spent the first inning swinging in the rain Friday night.

A sudden turn in the weather caught Safeco Field officials off guard--the roof was open at the start of the game but closed after the first inning.

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Nonetheless, the Angels seemed impressed with Seattle’s new park, which features an umbrella-like roof--though the stadium is covered, it is not fully enclosed.

“It’s very functional and attractive,” Maddon said. “I like the fact that it’s indoor/outdoor. It’s a neat feeling. You still get to feel like you’re outside, but you’re not going to get rained out.”

The best thing about Safeco Field is that it isn’t the Kingdome, the dingy stadium with the slab-like artificial turf that the Mariners used to call home.

“What was wrong with the Kingdome? What wasn’t wrong with the Kingdome?” Maddon said. “It was a pit. It was a home-court advantage. They played really, really well in that building. . . . [Anything is] better than being in the big hamburger over there.”

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TONIGHT

ANGELS’

CHUCK FINLEY

(11-11, 4.47 ERA)

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vs.

MARINERS’

JAMIE MOYER

(14-7, 3.75 ERA)

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Safeco Field, Seattle, 6

TV--Channel 9 Radio--KLAC (570), XPRS (1090)

* Update--If Finley can continue the roll that started after the July 31 trading deadline passed--the left-hander is 6-1 with a 1.80 earned-run average in his last nine starts--he would become the only Angel starter with a winning record this season. Mariner center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., who has 398 career homers, is on the verge of becoming the youngest player (29 years, 308 days) in major league history to reach 400 home runs. Jimie Foxx was 30 years and 248 days old when he reached that milestone.


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