1. In a preseason game Monday, Major League Baseball saw its first use of the expanded instant replay system.
This is great news!
2. But there is also reason to mourn.
Because the advent of instant replay could mean a scarcity of disputed calls, and therefore, epic manager ejections. So let’s take this moment to appreciate some of the great manager meltdowns of the past.
3. Lou Piniella - June 2, 2007
One of the all time greats at blowing up, Lou Piniella even has a signature move — kicking his hat around the field. Which he enthusiastically employs here. This was his first ejection as Cubs manager, and the crowd is immediately behind him, launching their own hats and assorted detritus onto the field in solidarity.
Best Part: The groundskeeping crew swarming the field to collect the debris at the end.
End result: Lou’s Cubs lost, 3-5.
4. Joe Mikulik - June 25, 2006
The minor leagues are known for having some of the best manager meltdowns around. Frequently, minor league managers will “get their money’s worth” from their ejections in an attempt to raise the profile of themselves or their teams. Here, Joe Mikulik just plain goes ballistic, throwing bases, covering home plate with dirt, throwing bats on the field and more, all while the home team sound system taunts Mikulik with a stream of music and movie clips (the “Who’s On First” routine matches shockingly well).
Best moment: After Mikulik throws bats out on the field, the poor bat boy takes a step toward them to clean them up, only to jump back from Mikulik’s re-emergence from the dugout.
End result: The Tourists lost, 2-5.
5. Gary Robinson - August 27, 2010
There are certain moves that become recurring themes in manager meltdowns — kicking dirt on the umpires, uprooting and throwing the bases, and covering home plate with dirt are tried and true favorites. But sometimes a manager takes a move and makes it his own. Take State College Spikes manager Gary Robinson, who doesn’t just remove a base, he then PULLS A PEN OUT OF HIS UNIFORM AND AUTOGRAPHS IT for a kid in the stands. Was it planned? Improvised? I’m honestly not sure which is more awesome.
Best moment: The kid’s awkward thumbs up to the camera after he receives the autographed base.
End result: The Spikes lost 3-7.
6. Gary Allenson - June 12, 2011
Here is an ejection tirade that will probably never be replicated. In the top of the ninth inning, Norfolk Tides right fielder Tyler Henson launches what appears to be a home run, but upon replay is actually a ground rule double. The ball landed behind the padding of the wall. The Durham Bulls players notified the umps that the ball was still behind the padding, and the umps reversed the call.
Tides manager Gary Allenson did not agree with overturning the call. Presumably thinking that the ball behind the wall was already there from before, Allenson marched out to the wall, climbed the wall, and searched the grass behind the wall to see if he could find, in theory, the “real” ball. Not surprisingly, he did not find it.
Best moment: The “Well what did you expect to find?!” smirk from the umpire during Allenson’s long walk back.
End result: The Tides won even without the home run, 11-5.
7. Wally Backman - June 26, 2007
In 2007, a ten episode documentary called “Playing For Peanuts” followed the return of manager Wally Backman to minor league baseball, as he managed the South Georgia Peanuts. During one game, Backman came out to argue a call, got ejected, and proceeded to flip out on the umpires. The cameras recorded every single word (most of those words NSFW) for future generations to enjoy, in all it’s bat-throwing, nail-clipping glory.
Best moment: “Let’s go have a beer, Doug.”
End Result: The Peanuts lost 5-6.
8. Phillip Wellman - June 1, 2007
There is a point at which this stops being a baseball ejection and becomes something resembling performance art. It starts off with the classics — covering home plate in dirt, removing bases and throwing them, etc. But then Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman takes it to another level, dropping to the ground in an army crawl, and pantomiming throwing a rosin bag grenade at one of the umpires before ultimately marching through the outfield to the exit, pausing to bow to his adoring fans.
Best moment: Are you kidding? Of course it’s the grenade throw.
End result: The Braves lost 6-7.
9. Earl Weaver - September 17, 1980
This confrontation is profane, hilarious baseball poetry. Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, a true baseball character who once had a meltdown so massive he ended up forfeiting a game in the middle of a pennant race, and umpire Bill Haller get into a truly extraordinary shouting match. There are countless amazing lines from each.
Weaver is a diminutive bulldog, going straight at his much taller opponent, and Haller is the perfect dance partner, alternatively dishing the hostility back at Weaver, then dismissing him with a weary, “Ahhhh.” Notice how Weaver plays the crowd, coaxing a thrilled cheer from them with every time he turns back to continue the confrontation.
Best moment: Though the video is dominated by Weaver, Haller lands the best blow with, “You gonna be in the Hall of Fame for f*cking up World Series?”
End result: Weaver’s Orioles coasted, 9-3.
Full transcript can be found here.
Although baseball’s expanded replay system will eliminate plenty of mistakes, balls and strikes, most managers’ favorite argument topics, still belong strictly to the umps. So while the apoplectic manager might become more rare, he will likely never go extinct.