Padres president and CEO Tom Garfinkel apologized on Thursday for comments that he made recently about Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, who hit Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin with a pitch, after which Quentin charged the mound and a benches-clearing incident followed. Garfinkel made an insensitive, misguided remark connecting Greinke's social anxiety disorder to a movie character who suffered from autism in addition to a speculative accusation about the Dodgers pitcher's intent.
"Hearing from parents who have children with autism spectrum disorder and being a parent myself, I have learned a lot today," Garfinkel said on his Twitter account. "I am deeply sorry for my insensitive remarks. Separately, I'd like to also personally apologize to anyone affected by social anxiety disorder."
Yahoo! Sports obtained a nearly five-minute clip of Garfinkel speaking at a season-ticket holders event with between 50 to 100 in the room at Petco Park last Friday, a day after Greinke hit Quentin with a pitch, which led to the Dodgers pitcher sustaining a broken collarbone and Quentin being given an eight-game suspension.
"I do these frequently. I'm usually very candid. The mistake wasn't being candid with them … the mistake was what I said. Some of my remarks were insensitive. I chose some of my words very poorly in how I characterized Zack," Garfinkel said on 1090 AM, the team's flagship radio station.
"I feel horrible. I've talked to parents of children who have ASD. That certainly wasn't my intention to do that. I'm sorry for that."
During the recording, Garfinkel referenced Greinke's social anxiety disorder, using a comparison of "Rain Man," the autistic character Dustin Hoffman played in the movie.
"He threw at him on purpose, OK?" Garfinkel told the group, according to Yahoo! Sports. "That's what happened. They can say 3-and-2 count, 2-1 game, no one does that. Zack Greinke is a different kind of guy. Anyone seen 'Rain Man'? He's a very smart guy."
Social anxiety and autism are very dissimilar. Social anxiety is a psychological disorder, while autism is a neurological disorder. Social anxiety disorder is usually not permanent. Autism is a developmental disorder that people are born with.
Major League Baseball has teamed up with Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization in a league-wide effort to recognize Autism Awareness Month during April. All 30 clubs are raising awareness for the disorder during one home game this month. The Padres did so on April 10 with a pregame ceremony before a game against the Dodgers that included Liz Feld, the national president of Autism Speaks.
Garfinkel was at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, where he apologized to Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten as well as Greinke, according to Yahoo! Sports.
"I was emotional the day after the game and regrettably, while defending our player, I said some things I shouldn't have, especially as it relates to Zack Greinke," Garfinkel told Yahoo! Sports. "I was out of line, and I apologize.
"Obviously, I don't condone fighting, and I wish it wouldn't have happened. You never want to see any player get hurt."