Fellas, chill. It’s just a game, right?
Losing stinks. We totally get it. Athletes and coaches have been angry about coming up on the short end since cavemen looked at each other, pointed to a spot in the distance and took off to see who could get there first. Granted, losing cavemen probably didn’t have some sports writer milling about wanting to get comment about what happened, why or produce a Vine of them sulking back home retweeted for all the world to see.
Oh, those were the days. Fast forward a handful of millennia and the veil has been pulled back. Cameras and microphones are everywhere. The one thing that hasn’t changed? Coaches and players have their limits. Only now, when those limits are met the ensuing meltdown will live on in YouTube infamy.
It doesn’t matter if we’re “talkin’ bout practice” (much love Allen Iverson) or incredulously wondering about the “Playoffs? Playoffs?” (here’s to you Jim Mora) the well-executed, impassioned rant is something to behold and in some ways cherished. It’s proof that these guys care so much that decorum takes a holiday and we can get some #realtalk.
So relax, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price and Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. Your Monday night meltdowns — Price went on a profane tirade (77 f-bombs in 6 minutes? We’re checking to see if that’s a record) against one of the team’s beat writers for daring to report the news while Rutherford dressed down a Pittsburgh columnist critical of Rutherford’s personnel moves — are in good company.
You’re not the first to lose it, you’re just the latest.
Hey, things could be worse. It’s not like you were caught going off on a tow truck employee or anything. You were just (kind of) doing your job, right? Besides, you now have a chance at the rant hall of fame. Meet some of the charter members.
I’M A MAN!
Sure, you can vote at age 18 and drink legally at 21, but real manhood apparently doesn’t come until you’ve crept toward middle age, at least according to Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy. After a spirited rally against Texas Tech in 2007, Gundy used his postgame press conference it as a pulpit to chastise a columnist for a story behind the benching of quarterback Bobby Reid. What followed were 3 minutes and 20 seconds of a poetic — and surprisingly expletive-free — defence of Reid and a takedown of the paper. Highlight: Gundy famously saying “Come after me! I’m a man! I’m 40! I’m not — I’m not a kid” near the end of a soliloquy that has defined his time in Stillwater as much as any of his wins. The Fallout: Gundy never offered a retraction and even tried to get his catchphrase trademarked. One problem: someone had already beat him to it.
Wrigley Field may be a cathedral to baseball, but that doesn’t always mean the faithful are true believers. Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia learned that the perception of Cubs fans and reality didn’t always meet. When he was heckled walking off the field following a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in April, 1983, Elia decided it was time to fire back. During a postgame session with reporters he used 42 expletives to tell the fans to ummm, get over themselves. Highlight: Elia’s rip job is so NSFW that we can’t even print outtakes without fear of wearing out our (asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) keys (easily Googled, though). The Fallout: Elia was fired late in the season and in 1984 the Cubs were in the playoffs.
Dennis Green was in his third — and ultimately final — season of trying to turn the Arizona Cardinals around in 2006 when his team hosted the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Arizona led 23-3 late in the third quarter when it basically invented a new way to blow it. Chicago scored three touchdowns (none of them by the offence) to rally for a 24-23 win. Green’s frustrations bubbled over afterward. His outburst was short by rant standards — less than 40 seconds — but included a little remodeling of the lectern. Highlight: An urge for the media to “if you want to crown’em, crown their (butts, only that’s not what he said since we’re using strategically placed parentheses here).” The Fallout: Green was fired after a second straight 5-11 finish and has yet to land another NFL job.
LASORDA LASHES OUT (WELL, ONE OF SEVERAL TIMES)
Tommy Lasorda won two World Series while managing the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1976-96 and nearly every press conference he ever attended with his no-holds-barred wit. San Diego Padres infielder Kurt Bevacqua learned the hard way when he suggested the “fat little Italian” should have been fined when Dodgers reliever Tom Niedenfuer was dinged by MLB for throwing at San Diego’s Joe Lefebvre in 1983. Lasorda didn’t miss a chance to retaliate. Highlight: An ordinary pitcher during his brief stint in the majors, Lasorda took a shot at Bevacqua’s struggles at the plate (he was a .236 hitter) saying he would “send a limousine” to pick Bevacqua up to make sure Bevacqua was in the lineup so he could “kick” Bevacqua’s (behind — again with the parentheses) any day of the week. The Fallout: Lasorda managed for another dozen seasons. Bevacqua retired in 1985 with a career batting average of .216 against Los Angeles.
HAL’S HAD IT
Maybe it’s inevitable that baseball managers are more prone to venting. They meet with media more than 350 times a year (twice on gamedays during the season) plus six weeks of spring training. It can get old after a while. Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae went kaboom in his office following a 5-3 loss to Detroit on April 26, 1993. While getting pressed on his late-game decision making McRae chastised reporters for asking “stupid (bad word)” questions while spontaneously rearranging the furniture in his office. Highlight: The attitude grenade sending the media scrambling for shelter, although one bystander walked out of his office with blood rolling down his right cheek. The Fallout: None really. McRae led the Royals to a winning record in 1993 and 1994 before being replaced. He spent two years managing the Tampa Bay for two miserable seasons in 2001 and 2002, though thankfully his desk escaped his tenure unharmed.
Will Graves, The Associated Press
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