SIDELINE SLANTS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
We’ve all seen people throw temper tantrums. Some are entertaining. Some are funny. Some are ugly.

It’s one thing to watch a 2-year-old throw a fit. It’s far worse watching a grownup go berserk, because we like to think adults know better.

Of all the sports, baseball might feature the most classic tantrums. Granted, more than a few basketball coaches have gone over the edge. Some football coaches have thrown caps or clipboards in disgust, but the greatest quantity and quality of tantrums seems to occur in baseball.

I can think of several reasons why. For one, it’s a long season with 162 games, so there’s more opportunity for explosions.

For another, much of the season is played during the hot summer months, and unless you play in a dome, you’re going to get your share of heat stress.

And third, it’s tradition.

Some temper tantrums occur spontaneously. Others are probably planned.

In any case, some ejections are memorable. I remember former Baltimore manager Earl Weaver going out to argue with an ump, being ejected, picking up second base and walking off the field.

It resembled a 5-year-old saying, “I’m going to take my marbles and go home.”

Billy Martin was legendary for kicking dirt on the umpire’s shoes.

He would even turn the bill of his baseball cap around so he could get in the umpire’s face.

After one ejection, I remember a manager going back to his dugout and throwing bats, helmets and anything he could find onto the field.

As you might expect, there’s usually more than meets the eye to an ejection. Here are some stories that I came across on ESPN.com.

San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy once said, “When an argument’s happening, emotions take over; after you’re ejected, you feel like the kid who has been sent to the corner by the teacher.

“But there was one time Bruce Froemming and I got into it when I was trying to get thrown out. He tells me, ‘I’m not going to throw you out.’ I said, ‘I’m not leaving until you do.’ Suddenly we’re arguing about whether or not he’s going to throw me out.

“We were out there about five minutes. I’m waiting him out. He’s holding his ground. The fans are getting louder. Finally, he gives in and throws me out. Quite a victory.”

Yankees manager Joe Torre said, “Doug Harvey once told me I was the first guy he threw out of a game. Then, when he was in his last year (1992), he told me he wanted me to be the last guy he threw out.

“I was managing the Cardinals, and we had a game that didn’t mean a whole lot, at Shea Stadium. There was an issue with a player substitution, and I called him over. I’m trying to argue with him, and he’s laughing because he doesn’t know what I am doing.

“I said, ‘Doug, this is it, Doug. This is it.’ He said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘You wanted to throw me out as the last guy. Well, I’m out here bitching-let’s go.’ And he threw me out.”

Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella was booted one time and the umpire came up to him the next day and said, “Look, we both speak Spanish. Talk to me in Spanish, don’t embarrass me.” I said, “OK.”

About a month later Piniella had an argument on a play with the same umpire at first base. Piniella argued in Spanish. The ump told him to leave in English.

Piniella said, “That was the end of the Spanish argument.”

Though nobody keeps official stats, John McGraw, who managed (mainly the New York Giants) from 1899-1932, is thought to be the all-time leader in ejections with 131.

Atlanta’s Bobby Cox is closing in on him though, with about 114.

Heckling umpires can be an art form. Here are three from “The Good Sports Joke Book.”

“Hey, ump, if you follow the white line, you’ll find first base.”

“Hey, ump, how can you sleep with all the lights on?”

“Hey, ump, shake your head – your eyes are stuck.”

It’s a cruel world.

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