By: Jeff Riger
Tell the truth!
You never want the Tigers to lose, however when they do, particularly in heartbreaking fashion, you at least want the Skipper to go nuts. You know, a couple of curse words, berate a reporter or two and then finish it off by kicking everybody out of his office — That’s the good stuff that the fans and media love and managers probably feel a bit embarrassed about afterwards.
Well, on Tuesday afternoon, Tigers manager Jim Leyland talked about one of the greatest, most memorable baseball rants of all time — the Lee Elia insanity that happened 30 years ago Monday. Elia literally went insane after a Cubs loss and what transpired afterwards is baseball folklore…
I asked Leyland if he remembered the rant and he replied, “Oh, it was one of the greatest, one of the greatest that I have ever heard. It was unbelievable, that’s Pulitzer prize (expletive) right there or whatever they say, Nobel prize, Pulitzer prize, whatever the hell you guys get. It was absolutely beautiful.”
Leyland then went on saying, “I loved Lee, I managed against him in the Minor Leagues, I love him to death. He just obviously lost it; it was not a good thing for Lee to do. I have to admit as a spectator I thought it was spectacular! And, I don’t mean that as an offense to Cubs fans.”
Leyland is not a stranger to rants himself as he has heard them all and been part of a couple as well. “I’ve heard all of those at one time or another, somebody had a tape of all of them (Tommy) Lasorda, Elia, (Earl) Weaver and (Frank) Howard and as a manager you have a great appreciation for those.”
So has Leyland ever come close to having an “Elia-esque” rant?
“Well I probably said some things that I shouldn’t have said, probably out of line at times but there sometimes when you guys agitate enough where you get pissed off.” When questioned why he hasn’t had a rant in a while, Leyland said “No I have really worked hard at that, that was one of my New Year resolutions.”
In fact Leyland is most proud of himself when he is able to stay away from belittling or berating the media. The manager recalls his most challenging moment was in Pittsburgh…
“The toughest one that I ever had was when some TV guy, I think I have told you this. We lose three to two in the ninth inning in Pittsburgh, I had thrown my food all over the walls and the milk was running down the walls and here comes the press and this guy who didn’t know (expletive) from shinola, TV guy he said you know how you have been looking for a leadoff hitter, why don’t you play John Cangelosi at short stop and lead him off? Well number one, John Cangelosi is left-handed so obviously you knew the guys didn’t know anything. So I bit my tongue and calmly said John Cangelosi is left-handed and I don’t know that there has ever been a left-handed short stop. His peers were laughing behind him, but I was proud of myself no to really embarrass the guy.”
Leyland continued talking about manager rants and how he does his best to not let things get to that point. Listen to the entire block of audio of Leyland talking about manager rants. I guarantee if you’re a baseball fan you will definitely get a couple laughs out of it.