There was no sign of UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux Friday at the Ragin’ Cajuns’ second game of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The league had given him an early Memorial Day holiday, suspending him for Friday’s game against Arkansas State following his ejection for arguing a call in UL’s opening-game loss to South Alabama.
A call on the first-base line — actually, a non-call, since neither first base umpire Mike Grace nor home plate umpire Scott Kennedy made a call on whether Cajun hitter Alex Fuselier had been tagged on his way to first base — led to an always-dreaded meeting of the umpire crew.
When the out call was made after that meeting, Robichaux’s rage boiled over, and Grace tossed him after an extended argument. Conference rules mandate a one-game suspension, which the Cajun skipper served on Friday, and the longtime UL boss was prohibited from coming within a mile of ULM’s Warhawk Field, the site of the tournament.
Conference officials warped into high gear immediately after an appeal to overturn the decision was denied by the state Supreme Court.
Overnight, the league established a one-mile perimeter around UL Monroe’s Warhawk Field. A joint task force involving university, city of Monroe, Ouachita Parish and Louisiana State Police mobilized with barricades and set up a command post just outside the ball park.
SWAT teams were on call in case Robichaux attempted to use the team bus to crash through the perimeter.
The Army Corps of Engineers had a team in place, called away from duty near the Morganza Spillway to determine whether the 5,280-foot no-Robichaux radius emanated from the entrance of the park, or from the site of the ejection near first base, or from the mound. The Sun Belt issued a statement hailing its recent decision to purchase a 1,760-yard measuring tape as a sound financial decision.
It was not clear if the one-mile zone was two- or three-dimensional, but officials from nearby airports established a no-fly zone around Warhawk Field just in case. Likewise, geologists were on hand to monitor seismic activity and remove the possibility of Robichaux tunneling under the field and making a subterranean entrance at home plate.
With all bases now covered and the park now safely encased in the one-mile buffer zone, officials turned their attention to enforcing the other penalties slapped on the Cajun coach (the league refused to release the official list of sanctions; those listed below came from an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation):
* The Cajun baseball team will never be allowed to score a run ever again. That penalty went into effect for Friday’s game, a 3-0 loss to Arkansas State that eliminated UL from a shot at the tournament title.
* ULM staffers worked overnight to clip Robichaux’s name and likeness out of the tournament program. Since tournament attendance never exceeded 400 for any game, that task was completed quickly.
* Robichaux’s likeness will be posted at all concession stands at Sun Belt schools, with a toll-free number to contact if he is spotted. Conference officials attempted without success to contact John Walsh, apparently not aware that America’s Most Wanted had been canceled.
*An electronic bracelet on Robichaux’s ankle will produce an electric shock any time he comes within 100 yards of Grace, another umpire, anyone wearing a mask or anyone named Blue.
* Robichaux is barred from eating Golden Flake, the official potato chip of the Sun Belt Conference, for an undetermined period. Any use of sunflower seeds must be pre-approved by the league office.
* Robichaux’s television show can only air on the Oprah Television Network for one year.
* Gov . Jindal was ordered to cut UL funding by 15 percent. Oops, sorry, that happened before the suspension.
* Robichaux was forced to turn in all copies of John Fogerty’s Centerfield to the conference office.
* Under no circumstances is Robichaux to be eligible for the “Three Strikes and You’re In” promotion for a one-year period, and cannot use the Sun Belt’s highly-prized mini-water bottles during that time.
* The only television viewing allowed to Robichaux is continuous replays of last year’s Sun Belt soccer tournament.
* When Robichaux does return to coaching duties, his No. 36 jersey will be replaced with one bearing the number 00651732, and with large red “SBC” letters on the chest. He must also wear a gag and can only communicate with his team and staff through chest bumps.
* And most damaging, for the rest of his life, Robichaux can never win the “Cane’s Challenge.”