Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vintage Fridays: Earl Weaver, 1971 Topps #477

This week provided an interesting juxtaposition of past and present in regards to Orioles managers. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote an excellent profile of Hall of Fame skipper Earl Weaver, everyone's favorite irascible, chain-smoking imp. I can't recommend it to you strongly enough; it's always great to hear Earl praised as an ahead-of-his-time strategist. He studied statistical matchups, championed on-base percentage, and disdained the bunt decades before Moneyball was written by Michael Lewis. It's also good to know that #4 still hasn't lost his edge. Reading the transcript of his anguished reactions to an Adam Eaton start in Spring Training, I felt like someone was eavesdropping on my own heat-of-the-moment exclamations.

Every manager that has followed Weaver in Baltimore, from Joe Altobelli to Dave Trembley, has had an impossible act to follow. No matter who is helming the team, it seems like the fans are always complaining that the manager isn't fiery enough. He doesn't challenge the players. He doesn't snipe at reporters. Most of all, he doesn't battle the umpires. Dave Trembley in particular seems to be 180 degrees away from his diminutive predecessor; we're talking about a guy who seems nice enough but conducts press conferences in a low monotone and counts Diet Coke as his greatest vice. Yet on Tuesday evening, Trembley boiled over and unleashed a tirade that may have impressed Earl.

It started in the top of the first inning in Seattle, when Luke Scott drove a liner up the gap with two outs and the bases loaded. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis raced home, and Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez's relay throw struck the pitcher's mound and ricocheted into the camera well. With Nolan Reimold already around second base, the Orioles players and coaches waved him home. But home plate umpire Tom Hallion erroneously ruled that he had eased up going into second and sent him back to third base. That's when Dave erupted, and it was all caught on tape (jump to 2:28). He screamed from the dugout, charged the field, went nose-to-nose with Hallion, screamed some more, accused the ump of lying and failing to know the rules, cursed, and then politely offered Big Blue his cap. He was, of course, ejected.

Today, the bureaucrats at the commissioner's office handed down a two-game suspension to Trembley, reported because he continued to watch the game from the tunnel leading to the clubhouse. That's against the rules, and he ostensibly could have continued calling the shots from there. Whatever. Oh, and there was no acknowledgement of the blown call. Color me shocked.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that sometimes you've just gotta blow off some steam. Diamond Dave did just that, and got a mini-vacation out of it.


Commish said...

I loved the SI article. His conversation with Dave Leonhard was typical Earl and made me laugh out loud. The article made me very nostalgic. Earl was one of a kind.

night owl said...

Trembley's tirade was great. I know the guy kind of well, and he's very mild-mannered and pleasant. But he absolutely means business and he's not afraid to show his angry side. This is a guy, remember, who used to teach the most hardened inner-city kids in Los Angeles.

William said...

There's a great video of Earl arguing with an umpire:

Earl: "You guys are here for one reason."
Ump: "What's that, Earl?"
Earl: "To f--- us."

Mr P said...

I think you can judge a person by their signature and Earl's is classy and stylish just like the man himself.

Kevin said...

Bob - That's a good one. There's the back and forth with Pat Kelly, too:

"Earl, don't you want me to walk with God?"

"I'd rather see you walk with the bases loaded."

Greg - Yeah, more than any manager we've had since maybe Davey Johnson, Dave has it in him to throw a good tantrum. I was at a game 2 years ago where he stormed out to 2B to protest a call, complete with pantomime of the play and an "ejecting the umpire" motion. Totally made a blowout loss to the Angels worth it.

William - I know that video well. I love Flanagan and Eddie milling about awkwardly while it happens.

Mr. P - Yeah, I like the inclusion of the middle initial (S for Sidney).