John McLaren, the fiery, F-bomb dropping manager of the Mariners just
lost his job, perhaps in part because of his profanity laced tirade.
Bobby Cox set a career mark for ejections last season. And Lou Pinella
always seems to be cussing out someone, no matter if his team is in
first or last place. Does it really make a difference when a manager
hollers at, kicks dirt on or otherwise abuses the umps and who does it
I believe it was 1985 or 1986. I was just a bright-eyed kid who would hold his breath as he walked into the chasm of old Busch stadium — overwhelmed and overjoyed by the simple lush green of artificial turf. They were known as the runnin’ Redbirds back then and Vince Coleman was on the front line.
He walked to lead off the first inning and on the very next pitch he stole second. The ump called him out. Coleman went nuts. He got in the ump’s face, threw down his helmet and the crowd (me included) erupted with a supporting roar. It wasn’t enough to change the umpire’s mind because two seconds later, he tossed him.
Immediately, Whitey Herzog stormed from the dugout and dashed towards second base.
He got tossed too.
I was only six or seven years old, but I got it. I was pumped. I was charged. I would’ve fought to the death for Whitey.
And that sentiment rings true still today for players and fans. Why do managers argue calls, risk being fined, and make scenes in front of 30,000 people? It’s part of their job. They are paid to lead, to discipline, to encourage and to fire up the troops.
Some are passive-aggressive (Bobby Cox), some are aggressive (Lou Pinella, Earl Weaver, Billy Martin) and some are just lameballs (Willie Randolph). No matter what the style, the purpose is the same. This is elementary.
As for who is the best? I’m not sure that any current manager could touch the combativeness of Earl Weaver or Billy Martin. Perhaps “Sweet” Lou Pinella is the closest we have as he always puts on a good show and his teams seem to respond: they win. And isn’t that the most important thing?
Of course, there’s always room for a loony toon or two, and I think we could all agree that minor league manager Phillip Wellman of the Mississippi Braves is the quintessential example of how sometimes one can take the whole arguing with the umpire thing a bit too far. If you live under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this footage from June 2007:
Nutjob. Yes. But at least he was committed. And confident. Confidence can go a long way, especially if you’re looked up to as a leader and you have no clue what you’re doing half the time. Of course, I can’t relate to that. I can’t relate to that at all.
Don’t hate me cuz I’m right.