Ron Washington and the 10 Craziest MLB Managers Caught on Tape
Washington, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz spared no curse word in expressing themselves to the rest of the team in a pregame speech and discussion caught on tape. The idea, presumably, was to fire one another up, using language that encouraged their basic aggressiveness.
It didn't work, of course. The St. Louis Cardinals won Game 7.
Ninety percent of the time in baseball, anger and aggression are counterproductive. While it takes a passionate, driven individual to maintain the day-to-day intensity a 162-game schedule demands, the game itself is a difficult, fine and strategic exercise. It is best performed, in general, at a low level of arousal.
Yet, for decades, managers have used bile and fury to inspire. Players talk about taking some sort of added focus from brawls, umpire arguments and bulletin-board quotes by opponents.
Whether they are speaking to players or reporters, whether they know they are on tape or not, managers in baseball have been popping off for as long as those tapes and ESPN and the Internet have been around.
Here are the 10 craziest manager rants ever captured on tape.
WARNING: Feel free to read, but not watch. The embedded videos on the following slides almost all include abusive, obscene language. They are not for the faint of heart, and they certainly are not for young ears. They're not fit for anyone's ears, really, but the vocabulary each man demonstrates is an unfortunate, immutable fixture of baseball (for that matter, sports) culture.
10. Tony La Russa Gets Very Lawyerly, Boycotts the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Setting the Scene: It was late April, 2007, and the Chicago Cubs were in town to face the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Feeling a bit glib and clever, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a headline that referred to the Cubs' famous early 20th-century double-play trio.
Shortstop Joe Tinker and second baseman Johnny Evers got low billing, but first baseman Frank Chance's name somehow got blown up very large, right next to the word 'NO.'
The Cubs didn't like that. Neither did Cards manager Tony La Russa. La Russa declared as he began his pregame presser that day that he would take no questions from that paper.
What Goes Down: A Post-Dispatch employee takes immediate issue with La Russa's choice.
The press conference goes from group format to long-distance shouting match pretty quickly, though the erudite La Russa does not condescend to cussing and raving. He merely begins to walk away, at which point the argument briefly takes on a face-to-face character. It's wild.
9. Sparky Anderson Goes off on Reporters
Setting the Scene: It's not clear what prompted this jeremiad from Anderson.
He seems almost level-headed, but for the relentless encouragement to writers to do unsavory things to themselves.
The circumstances are cloudy, but knowing Anderson, he must have felt a criticism ran too much toward the personal.
What happens: It's pretty standard fare, as these things go. Anderson's voice is smooth and not grossly strained, but he does seem wounded and furious.
8. Dick Howser Lashes out at Umpires
Setting the scene: In June, 1984, Dick Howser and the Kansas City Royals were floundering.
They were stranded in last place, seemingly falling from playoff contention by the minute.
Howser had to have been frustrated, and when he felt he was unduly needled about his predicament by two umpires one day, he unloaded that frustration in a profane rant to the press.
What happens: Well, he rants. Howser repeatedly questions the right of the umpires to remind him that his team is no good.
One way or another, they really got to him.
7. Earl Weaver's Prank Episode of Manager's Corner
Setting the scene: Weaver was a brilliant but often crotchety baseball man.
He was so frequently sought out for his opinions on the game that he started a radio program on the Orioles' radio network, dubbed "Manager's Corner."
He co-hosted and co-produced several episodes, one of which (this never aired) was a prank sketch he thought up.
What happens: Weaver is obscene at utterly every turn, but the fun is not only in the swearing. He builds a bit.
For 90 percent of the video, he could actually be an angry, drunken skipper, livid with dumb questions and futile players.
At the very end, though, a funny (if grossly inappropriate) twist lifts the veil and lets the listener in on the joke.
6. Ozzie Guillen Gets Indignant About His Bullpen
Setting the scene: Early in the 2011 season, the Chicago White Sox bullpen was a mess.
Matt Thornton began the year as closer but faltered badly.
Sergio Santos looked good but made a few mistakes himself. The Sox were in disarray.
What happens: After a loss in which Guillen clearly felt he pushed the right buttons, he stormed into the press room.
When questioned about his choice, he rails about the way players are lionized for successes (especially out of the bullpen) but managers are bedeviled for any loss.
He then, for want of a better term, flees the stage. It's a bit unclear whether his exit is a dramatic stomp-off or a race for the bathroom. If the former, it's one of the all-time great huffy departures.
5. Tommy Lasorda Gives His Opinion on Dave Kingman
Setting the scene: The Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers fought valiantly for 15 innings on May 14, 1978.
The game might have been over had it not been for the two home runs Dave Kingman hit for the Cubs in the sixth and ninth innings.
Then again, it might have gone on forever if Kingman had not also cranked a three-run homer in the top of the 15th to push the Cubs to the 10-7 win. It was certainly a noteworthy performance.
What happens: Our portion starts at around 1:25 in this video. Therein, a reporter asks of Lasorda his opinion of Kingman's performance.
I'm an aspiring sportswriter myself, and I firmly believe beat writers get a bad rap. Their job is much harder than anyone is willing to admit, and most do it better than they get credit for.
That said, this was a dreadfully vague and canned question. It probably partially deserved the treatment Lasorda gave it.
4. Ron Washington, the Non-Cuddly Version
Setting the scene: It's easy to see why Washington felt he needed to sit down his team and give a pep talk after the devastating near-miss that was Game 6 for Texas.
He wanted to loosen them up, to fire them up and to let them know he was already proud of them. He just chose an unconventional path.
What happens: Washington gets very angry talking about the way the media lavished attention on Chris Carpenter, and even more so about questions regarding the Rangers' approach to him.
Three of his players chime in, and the result is a lively, laughing, but also very intense clubhouse. They sound sure and full of vengeance.
3. Lasorda, Revisited
- The Dodgers beaned San Diego Padres second baseman Joe Lefebvre in 1982, leading to a fine for pitcher Tom Niedenfuer of $500.
- Fellow Padre Kurt Bevacqua told a reporter (or two) that the fine ought to have fallen on Lasorda, whom he felt ordered the hit on Lefebvre. He made a derogatory, dismissive reference to Lasorda in the meantime.
- Lasorda got wind of all that.
Setting the scene: Those with strong stomachs can skip my synopsis and simply listen in, because the makers of this video did a delightfully concise capsule of the situation.
For the rest of you, it happened in this way:
What happens: Some savvy fellow asks Lasorda what he thought of Bevacqua's comments, and hits record on his Dictaphone.
Lasorda denies, denies, denies, but then implicitly admits to the plunking in the process of dragging Bevacqua's baseball skills through some very special mud.
This one is almost worth just grinning and bearing the obscenities. It's brutal, but it's hilarious.
2. Hal McRae Hits His Breaking Point
Setting the scene: On April 26, 1993, the Kansas City Royals lost to the Detroit Tigers, 5-3.
They missed an opportunity to score key runs in the bottom of the seventh, when with the bases loaded, DH Keith Miller popped out to third base to end the rally.
George Brett sat idly by on the bench as that happened. Then Brian McRae, manager Hal McRae's son, lined into a double-play in the ninth inning that helped kill another rally.
What happens: McRae met with reporters afterward, but bristled as soon it was suggested that he might have been in error.
When Brett specifically came up, he lost it. He tossed things, shouted, raved and showed complete disregard for the other humans occupying space near him.
Watch around the 56-second mark, as a reporter walks through the frame with a cut down the right side of his face, courtesy of McRae's carelessness.
1. Lee Elia Seals His Fate
Setting the scene: The Cubs of the early 1980s were not good.
They played all day games, and therefore, during the spring at least, they played before very sparse crowds at Wrigley Field.
Fans came but sometimes booed the inferior product they came out to see, or else they did not come at all. The dual frustration of losing, and of having so little support, ate at Cubs skipper Lee Elia.
What happens: Elia indicts the culture all around the Cubs.
He berates the fans for not showing up, then for showing up and acting rude or entitled. He rails against the daytime crowd.
He swears. A lot.
Elia went nuts on this occasion, to the point that he was fired before the end of the season.