Thursday, November 29, 2012

Managerial Meltdown

There are few things more entertaining in baseball than watching a manager completely lose it. When I think of epic meltdowns, two names instantly come to mind: Earl Weaver and Billy Martin.

Weaver, Hall of Fame Orioles skipper, was tossed out more than ninety times during in his career (twice before games had even started). He became infamous not only for his profanity laden tirades but also for the tactic of turning his cap around backwards so he could get closer to umpires in the heat of battle without making physical contact.

Martin, fired five times by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, patented the act of kicking dirt on the shoes of men in blue. Ejected forty-six times as a manager, he occasionally bullied umps into changing their calls (as was the case in the notorious Pine Tar Game of 1983). "The day I become a good loser, I'm quitting baseball," he once said.

Volatile as these two men were, the award for most bizarre and amusing tantrum in history goes to a little known skipper by the name of Philip Wellman. Manager of the Double-A Mississippi Braves, Wellman let sanity fall by the wayside during a game in June of 2007. When his pitcher was ejected for allegedly applying a foreign substance to the ball, the veteran dugout boss temporarily took leave of his senses. After covering home plate with dirt and drawing an outline of a larger one in its place, he sauntered over to third base, uprooted the bag and launched it into the outfield. Not finished with his theatrics, he crawled on his hands and knees to the pitcher's mound, where he grabbed the rosin bag, pulled an imaginary pin with his teeth and tossed it like a grenade at the home plate umpire. Before exiting the game, he ejected the ump at third, moved second base into right center field then blew a kiss to the wildly cheering crowd. Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" blared on the PA system throughout.

To date, Wellman's one man Vaudeville act has drawn more than 600,000 views on YouTube.

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