10/05/2002 11:35 am ET
Press Row: Radio prank sinks low
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The St. Louis Cardinals have been playing inspirational baseball since the death of teammate Darryl Kile, who died June 22 in his Chicago hotel room. A prank by a Phoenix radio station disc jockey has touched the team's already sensitive nerves and will likely motivate the Cardinals even more.
Radio station KUPD-FM announced Friday it has suspended a disc jockey who called Kile's widow in an on-air prank and asked if she had a date to Thursday's National League Division Series playoff game between the Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks.
KUPD-FM disc jockey Beau Duran was suspended for at least a week, said Chuck Artigue, market manager for the Sandusky Group, which owns the station.
Flynn Kile hung up the phone after Duran called her Phoenix hotel room. An autopsy showed her husband died from blocked coronary arteries. She was invited to the playoffs by the team, which continues to set up Darryl Kile's locker with his jerseys on the road.
Duran's call enraged St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and prompted apologies from the radio station and the Diamondbacks.
On Friday, the radio station's Web site carried an apology headlined "In Response to Our Misjudgment." It said the prank "was not intended to be hurtful or malicious in any way."
Jeff Gordon, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said the incident, plus the loss of third baseman Scott Rolen for the series because of a freak collision, has fired up the Cardinals. St. Louis leads the best-of-five series 2-0 and can clinch the NLDS with a win Saturday over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Since the Arizona Diamondbacks sent some kid crashing into All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen, wiping him out, the Cards are forced to do what they do best," Gordon writes. "They must rally around each other and play with that much more determination.
"That shouldn't be too hard," Gordon writes. "Not with an Arizona 'radio personality' taunting Darryl Kile's widow, Flynn, a focal point of this team's emotions. Not with some more of these radio morons taunting Andy Benes, making sure he'll remain the new, much more aggressive Andy Benes come Saturday."
Rolen is out for the rest of the series with a sprained shoulder, though the Cardinals have not yet ruled him out for the National League Championship Series or World Series, saying "his future status will be revealed at a later date." ESPN's Karl Ravech reported that Rolen would be sidelined 10-14 days.
In a guest column in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix sports broadcaster Tom Zenner calls the Cardinals the "kings of karma" and interviews former U.S. Olympic hockey team captain Mike Eruzione about it.
"It's amazing how teams come together when they have to deal with tragedy like the Cardinals did," Eruzione tells Penner. "Because of (the deaths of pitcher Darryl Kile and announcer Jack Buck during the season), they have bonded closer, even if they don't know it. They will find themselves believing in each other more, and doing the little things in a game because they have that tighter bond with their teammates."
Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch notes the strange twist of fate surrounding Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes, who will start Saturday. He was considering retirement in April.
"Six months after he sat slumped over at his locker contemplating the end of his career, Andy Benes will attempt tonight to push the Cardinals past the Arizona Diamondbacks into the National League Championship Series," Strauss writes. "It's as if even the cruelest of seasons wants to prove it retains a sense of humor."
The Diamondbacks have problems of their own, specifically a lack of offense. Arizona manager Bob Brenly will start first baseman Erubiel Durazo in Game 3 but it apparently was a difficult decision.
"This could mark the final Diamondbacks appearance for Durazo," the Arizona Republic's Mark Gonzales writes, "as the team appears committed to letting Mark Grace groom Lyle Overbay at first base next season."
Republic columnist Dan Bickley writes that starting Durazo "is a concession that the Diamondbacks offense is in pitiful shape, an admission that Brenly was wrong in snubbing his cotton candy slugger in Game 2."
Durazo apparently created the bad feelings when he refused to start in right field for the D-Backs.
"Up to a point, Brenly's anger with Durazo was understandable," Bickley writes. "The manager had gone to great lengths to take pressure off Durazo, saying the club had no defensive standards whatsoever after moving the lumbering lefty to right field. All Durazo had to do was try; give an honest effort. And when that was too much of a burden, it screamed of selfish child staging a sit-down strike.
"It was the worst letter in sports -- I -- showing up at the worst time," Bickley writes.
Carrie Muskat is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.