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.
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.