Monday, March 21, 2011

You're Outta Here!!

By: C.G. Morelli

Before you get all worked up over my not-so-politically-correct decision to sing the praises of unsportsmanlike conduct in the game of baseball, please spare me the tears. I’m not here to endorse fighting, or cursing, or even umpire bashing. I’m not here to teach you how to kick dirt on someone’s shoes. I’m simply not the kind of guy who condones this type of behavior.

But still, there’s something inherently passionate about a coach who storms out on the field to defend his version of justice before his team. I don’t care who you are, there’s something completely satisfying about seeing an umpire’s arm reach to the heavens before unceremoniously pointing a manager in the proper direction for a shower.

As much as we can all admit this behavior is better left to the dogs, we still can’t quite forget there’s something about a manager meltdown that’s essential old school baseball. It’s gritty, and it brings us back to the days of old John McGraw, when winning a ball game was more about protecting your pride than protecting the fan base.

That’s why, as I attempt to fill the next three months until opening day and the next million Sundays until football starts again in Carolina, I’d like to share with you some of the most entertaining meltdowns in baseball history.

The Most Entertaining Manager Meltdowns in Baseball History

We’ll start out with the simple but classic approach to getting ejected. Here’s Ricky VanAsselberg of the Alexandria Aces minor league team giving a gentle nod to the old school as he buries home plate under a mountain of sand. Give a few style points to the ump on the toss.

Butch Hobson of the Can-Am League Nashua Pride added a little creativity to his meltdown routine. Hobson decided a call on a close play at first was so blasphemous that no one should ever again be allowed to touch that base…except, of course, the group of ten year olds seated near the top of the bleachers he delivered it to after being axed. Give this one a minute, it’s worth it.

There are a million clips of Tommy Lasorda hurling insults, spit, and whatever else at unwitting and perhaps even dimwitted umpires. The man’s slight problem with his temper is well documented. But, to me, nothing is more telling of the man’s passion for the game, his team, and his player than this clip. I mean, the guy was ready to argue even in spring training! 

Asheville Tourist’s manager Joe Mikulik would probably like to do these few minutes of his life over again.

Sometimes when I watch Lou Piniella really give it to an umpire I have to ask myself, “Was he basically put on Earth for this exact purpose?” If there’s such a thing as a meltdown artist, Sweet Lou would have to be the one and only. Here’s a double dose for you.

This is perhaps my favorite clip of all time, in any sport. Phillip Wellman, manager of the minor league Mississippi Braves, puts on a performance worthy of an Oscar after getting tossed from a Southern League game. Take note as he army-crawls to the mound, pulls the pin on the, uh, resin bag? And then tosses it grenade style? Genius.

I present to you Earl Weaver, Master of Language. WARNING! Let’s just say this might not be the best clip to play on full volume in the middle of a board meeting. But if a few choice words aren’t enough to get your panties in a bunch, I promise you’ll be in tears during this one. And, by the way, don’t ever put your finger on me again. You’ll know what I’m talking about in a minute.

Honorable Mention
I know, I know. How can I compile a list like this without including all time ejections leader Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves? Well, for all the times Bobby’s been given the old heave-ho, he’s really been able to keep a lid on it. That’s pretty surprising when you consider Cox has been sent packing 158 times in his professional managerial career. At any rate, here’s an honorable mention for a guy who clearly prides himself on quantity over quality when it comes to arguing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

At the Table With...Baseball Legends

By: C.G. Morelli

We’ve all heard the obligatory conversation starter before: “If you could have dinner with an influential person, who would it be and why?” Ah, the sounds of a high school history class…except without all the snoring and with only half the amount of drool.

Believe me, I’m not asking you to relive it with me because, seriously, those conversations usually turned out to be as exciting as a Kansas City Royals home game.

Personally, I always thought it’d be more interesting to think about what you’d actually say to these people as they were huddled around your kitchen table. What would you serve them? What in the hell would they say to you?

Ok, so maybe I think about pointless stuff a little too much. But I only do it so you, the faithful readers, don’t have to.

I’m a baseball guy, so let me share with you the top five ballplayers throughout history that I’d dine with. But I’ll even take it the extra mile for you. I’ll let you in on our conversations.

5. Manny Ramirez
The Meal: Something extremely rich
The Conversation: 
CG: I’m glad you decided to stop by, Manny.
Manny: Me too. I can never pass up a free meal, especially when I don’t have a place to call home.
CG: Free? I never said that.
Manny: It doesn’t matter. You’ll pay for it. Come on, look at this face. How can you resist me?
CG: Do I look like Ned Coletti?
Manny: Actually, yes.
CG: Take that back.
Manny: Give me 30 million.
CG: What?!?
Manny: I meant 45 million.
CG: Ok, I think this dinner’s over.
Manny: (walking to the door) You’ll call back. They always do.

4. Joe DiMaggio
The Meal: Veal Parmigiana and a pack of Marlboro Reds
The Conversation:
CG: Joe, I’ll always be in awe of your 56-game hitting streak. How’d you deal with the pressure?
Joe D: Trust me, it was easier than being married to Marilyn.
CG: High maintenance?
Joe D: You don’t know the half of it.
CG: Was it worth all the trouble?
Joe D: NO!!!  Well, yes.
CG: Shocking.

3. Pete Rose
The Meal: Bread and water
The Conversation:
CG: Sorry about the skimpy meal, Mr. Rose. You know, economy’s not all too good these days.
Rose: Don’t mention it. Besides, it happens to be one of my favorites. I used to refer to it as the after-parlay special back in Cincy.
CG: Sounds, um, healthy. Speaking of health, what’s your take on the whole steroids scandal?
Rose: I’d be willing to bet more than half the league was doing them.
CG: Uh, are you sure you wouldn’t like to rephrase that last statement?
Rose: Why?
CG: Never mind….So how about those Phillies?

2. Ty Cobb
The Meal: Fried chicken, collards, biscuits, and gravy
The Conversation:
CG: It’s an honor to have you, Mr. Cobb. I’m a huge fan. I celebrate your entire body of work.
Ty: I don’t know where you think this dinner is headed, boy, but you best leave my body out of it.
CG: What?
Ty: You know what I’m gettin’ at, you yella-bellied pretty boy.
CG: Actually, I don’t.
Ty: Look, just eat your damn chicken and zip your lip.
CG: …
Ty: That’s better. Now finish all your vegetables before I sharpen my spikes on that big old nose of yourn.
CG: Mr. Cobb, it’s been real.

1. Yogi Berra
The Meal: A bowl of Cap’n Crunch
The Conversation:
CG: Boy am I glad to be sitting here with you, Yogi…a man known for his dialogue.
Yogi: Well, they say a man’s dialogue is his treasure.
CG: Who says that?
Yogi: Well, it ain’t us, so it must be them.
CG: Of course it ain’t us, but who is “them?”
Yogi: All the people who think a man’s dialogue is his treasure.
CG: But I never heard anyone ever say that.
Yogi: What do you mean? I just said it two minutes ago.
CG: Are you sure you weren’t just reading random stuff off the back of the cereal box?
Yogi: Uhhh….ummm…It ain’t over till it’s over!
CG: What the…? Oh, forget it. Where’s Ty Cobb when you need him?