Around the Horn with Paul Ghiglieri⁠ – 17th Edition

Welcome to the 17th edition of Around the Horn, a recurring op-ed with a satirical slant that riffs on whatever’s recently noteworthy in baseball. Think of it as a stripped down Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show in a column format with recurring segments about the good, bad, and ugly in the world of America’s pastime. Additionally, as often as possible, we’ll end with an interview as well.

There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get right to our first segment:

 

The Rundown

Our Main Story

 

There are a lot of moments that occur during a baseball game that we can call defining or iconic. No-hitters, perfect games, and hitting for the cycle occupy that rare space at the top of the list of the most thrilling, but others such as walk-off homers, triple plays, and even the fabled suicide squeeze continue to amaze and enthrall. However, by far one of the most special and time-honored traditions of baseball happens will always be a manager’s ejection.

There’s little as comforting as a manager losing his mind because of a bad call. These moments are marvels of the game that comprise suspense, spectacle, and a unique opportunity to provide all fans something they can truly identify with on a basic human level.

Who among us hasn’t wanted to rage against the injustices of the world that we cannot control? It’s part of the reason professional wrestling gained so much popularity in the 1990s after its icons had given way to caricatures and silly gimmicks to relate fans to its product by asking wrestlers to dress up as garbage men, tax collectors, plumbers, and eventually even porn stars, pimps, and monks …

 

 

Yeah, you know you’re hitting a new creative low when you’re trying to turn Friar Tuck from a mead-swilling champion of the poor into a shoeless, lunatic monk who likes to finish opponents off by sitting on their faces.

Anyway, the point is, sports entertainment found another ratings gear when it featured a different kind of beer-swilling lunatic, this time one who waved a middle finger at authority and physically assaulted his boss.

 

 

It spoke to so many Americans who wished they could do the same thing with impunity, especially if your boss was this guy …

 

 

Watching a manager go ballistic on an umpire is baseball’s equivalent to this. As a fan, all you can do during those crucial moments of a game is boo and sit helplessly by while a pitch right on the corner gets called a ball or your favorite player gets run up on a check swing that never crosses the plate or a scoring opportunity gets wasted on a called strike three that’s at least a foot outside. This where the coach comes in to be your voice, your conduit of frustration, the vehicle by which you can spew obscenities, kick dirt, and give (scream?) ol’ blue a piece of your mind.

Conversely, if your team benefited from the blown call, then you can watch gleefully as the opposing team’s manager gets tossed, and the entire affair becomes a riveting display for your viewing pleasure.

Such was the case with Yankees manager Aaron Boone and his “savages in the box.”

Warning: The following video contains gratuitous profanity and is NSFW.

 

 

That entire episode is utterly glorious, regardless of how you feel about Boone or the Yankees. Best of all, it had me thinking about the all-time great manager blow-ups and meltdowns. Here are some of the best:

Warning: The following video contains gratuitous profanity and is NSFW.

 

 

I don’t know whether it was the incompetence of the umpire for refusing to articulate the reasons for his ejections or manager Wally Backman ordering a staffer to get him a pair of fingernail clippers after his epic tantrum as he exits via a grassy knoll in the outfield … but that was pure minor league baseball joy at its finest.

However, it can be topped:

Warning: The following video contains gratuitous profanity and is NSFW.

 

 

Earl Weaver’s assertion for why the umpire crew is even there might be the most brilliant assessment of feeling like the world is against you in baseball history. It perfectly captures what so many wish they could say whenever they get a parking ticket or an exorbitant tax bill while the rich get richer. The fact that Weaver, half the size of umpire Bill Haller, insists he’s ready to throw down, only for Haller to call him a liar and insist he’s never thrown down on anybody only adds to the hilarity.

And still, even that can be topped:

 

 

Censors did the work for me this time, but this tirade is no less spectacular because of it. Wichita Wingnuts manager Kash Beauchamp was so incensed at a called strike that he felt downright reeked, he made a point to wave his armpit odor in the face of the umpire to emphasize just how badly he felt the call stunk. The metaphor adds a bit of poetry to the ejection that makes it an all-time classic.

Speaking of all-time classics …

 

 

That’s “Sweet Lou” at his best. The nose-to-nose jawing with the ump, head gyrating like a bobblehead. The iconic kicking of dirt onto the umpire’s legs. And the beautiful finishing touch: booting the hat across the infield. It has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood sceneand in fact, Piniella’s meltdowns were the inspiration behind many fictional depictions of manager-umpire spats. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Or does it?

 

 

My god, did we just stare into the eyes of madness?

First, minor league manager Phill Wellman literally throws his hat at the umpire. Covering home plate with a mound of dirt as though it means something à la Close Encounters of the Third Kind is hysterical, but patting it flat and then outlining a massive strike zone is even more so. Then he imitates a soldier, crawling on his belly up to the mound as if it’s a bunker, grabs the rosin bag and tosses it to the home plate umpire like a grenade. Looking back, he tosses the umpire who tossed him. He finishes this grand performance by picking up the bases that he launched into the outfield and walking away before turning around once more to blow kisses to his adoring audience.

It is arguably the finest display of an adult throwing a child’s temper tantrum ever seen. There is only one possible way it could be topped.

Only one …

 

 

The authenticity of this is palpablea literal child, occupying the position of a man, throwing a child’s temper tantrum. His forward-leaning stomping bulldog march out of the dugout. The announcers referring to the child walking a circle around the umpire before kicking dirt on him as the boy’s “signature move” is absolute brilliance. The umpire completely straight-faced as he tosses “Coach Drake,” before the youngster declares he will “be right back,” en route toward the dugout, where he promptly launches bats and empties a bucket of balls … it’s all outstanding. He then spikes the bucket for good measure … then spikes his hat on home plate as the “ultimate sign of disrespect.”

The entire incident is both perfect and sublime in its theatrical absurdity. Is there something morally wrong with finding humor in a 6-year-old behaving highly inappropriately? Probably. Was it all an act? Maybe.

Undeniably funny? Absolutely.

Out of the Park

A Look Beyond the Boxscores for the Best in Baseball This Week

 

Because, yes:

 

 

 

 

 

The 2019 MLB Home Run Derby was a treat, but the All-Star Game itself should take a page out of the KBO’s playbook. How is this not the most fantastic baseball experience in the world right now? This is redefining what #LetTheKidsPlay means, and it’s fantastic.

Back home, in the absence of relievers dressed like firemen, at least we have Ned Yost making up for all those nuclear manager blowups by dropping knowledge on a poor, unsuspecting reporter:

 

 

That’s right, Cody. A “1202 program alarm.” Has there ever been a cooler forced lecture on the moon landing than this one? No, there has not.

I mean, this guy could make even bunts look cool.

Seriously …

 

 

Backdoor Sliders

Where Baseball Got Caught Looking

 

Former Mets’ GM Steve Phillips was adamant that “Baseball Happened” this week:

 

 

Yes, Steve. It happens, indeed. But kudos to you for pointing out a few things you don’t see every day. On that note …

 

 

Extra Bags

 

A few goodies this week. First, THIS:

 

 

The ability to call a game is such an underrated skill by fans. Many bemoan “defensive catchers” for their inability to hit, and it’s never more so than in fantasy baseball, in which before this year it felt like a decade since “catcher” and “hitter” could be uttered in the same sentence without it being facetious.  However, the expression on this backstop’s face as he readies himself for the inevitable, impending doom that he is powerless to prevent is just priceless.

Finally, something that moon landing loving Ned Yost would appreciate. A pitch that can only be described as otherworldly:

 

 

That’s the ballgame for this week! We’ll be back after the break.

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Paul Ghiglieri

Paul Ghiglieri has written fantasy analysis and hardball columns for PitcherList and FantasyPros. A lifelong Giants fan living in LA, he spends his free time writing screenplays with metaphors for life only half as good as baseball.

sdf

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published.