The art of the argument in Major League Baseball


Other than the occasional Family Guy rerun, my television rarely strays from ESPN.  While watching Sportscenter the other night, I happened upon some Yankees highlights and had a most interesting revelation.


joe-girardiAfter a called third strike to Alex Rodriguez that appeared just off the plate, Yankee manager Joe Girardi rushed out of the dugout to argue the call.  After some healthy debating back and forth and likely a few testaments as to the others’ uselessness, the umpire didn’t like something Girardi said and immediately tossed him from the game.  That just angered Girardi further.  He channeled his best Billy Martin, taking off his cap and slamming it to the ground.  He started screaming at the top of his lungs, going nose to nose with the ump, until he eventually had to be restrained.


Last night, Dave Trembley, manager of the Baltimore Orioles, did nearly the same thing.  Trembley and an umpire went face to face, spit globule to spit globule.  And all this time we thought umpires wore face masks to protect them from tipped foul balls.


This got me thinking.  Where else other than Congress, the MTV Video Music awards and the US Open can we witness human beings lose their composure in such fashion?  While Joe Wilson, Kanye West and Serena Williams were all lambasted for their outbursts, and rightfully so, baseball managers are almost encouraged to confront umpires.  There are no repercussions for their actions; the sport turns a blind eye.  Just like fighting in hockey, mismanaged meltdowns are accepted as part of the game.

This doesn’t happen in any other sport.  Football coaches might speak their mind or even heckle a referee mid-game but you never see a coach get in a referee’s face.  Basketball coaches rarely confront a ref in person.  They just wait for the post-game press conference to question the officiating and then suffer the impending fine from Commissioner Stern.  Bobby Knight was best known for his tirades but he’s long since gone and his behavior was hardly tolerated.  On the other hand, baseball managers arguing until they turn beet red is as commonplace as overpriced beer at the ballpark.

lou-pinellaForget about sports for a minute.  This doesn’t happen in any other walk of life either.  Let’s say you work at a bank, an insurance firm or a manufacturing plant.  Can you imagine getting in your supervisor’s face, blowing up to the point where you both hurl profanities at one another?  You’d be visiting the unemployment line quicker than a Nolan Ryan fastball.  We might disagree with people but we never go toe to toe with a supermarket cashier or the maitre d’ of a restaurant.  For the most part, we are a civil society.


But baseball exists in a vacuum.  What happens on the diamond stays on the diamond.  Managers are rarely fined for these altercations.  Don’t get me wrong.  Baseball would be even less exciting to watch if it weren’t for these occasional, manager-umpire blowouts.  It’s good entertainment and an integral part of baseball culture.


earl-weaverFew could argue a call with the flair of Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and Lou Pinella but even Pinella, who now coaches the Chicago Cubs, has cooled his jets.  His cardiologist probably thanks him. 


As fans, we actually miss those performances, classic arias of spit and ire.  We yearn to see the manager and umpire clash, like a car wreck we can’t turn our eyes from, but we don’t question its logic.


Of course, players and managers are not allowed to lay a finger on an official.  That would warrant suspension.  But shouting, profanities and the occasional saliva shower are perfectly acceptable.  Without them, baseball just wouldn’t be the same.

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43 Replies to “The art of the argument in Major League Baseball”

  1. Chris

    The umpires and managers within MLB are nothing boy than little boys in a sandbox having a fight . Once the argument is over they rarely remember why it was that they were remonstrating with each other to begin with. Thankfully it’s not like an argument that you or I would have with the wife or girlfriend as the case maybe. Then we can always look forward to makeup sex. But then again, does MLB have the ….. ‘don’t ask – don’t tell policy on that score’ ? LOL, LOL, LOL !!!!

    Alan Parkins

  2. Chris

    Oooh I can so remember the days when the Bucs actually had an O-line that was worth a damn. Now their O-line is as porous as a sponge. I thought that Raheem wanted one that was athletic ? Well if it means athleticism means being measured against that of the former ladies of ‘The Golden Girls ‘ . Then now I can well understand what he’s trying to achieve with this team.

    He wants to push them further into the depths of mediocrity and ineptitude. Can someone call Leftwich out and tell him ‘…. he left his manhood in the locker room ‘. He much like the rest of this Bucs’ team are an embarrassment.

    Alan Parkins

  3. Ya know what’s funny, Al?

    A call is NEVER overturned!!! Aside from maybe a homerun call that’s now overturned through video, you never saw an umpire change their decision.

    They’re like time share salesmen that don’t take no for an answer.

  4. Chris

    Speaking of the Bucs here’s a piece I did on the Patriots after their loss inflicted at the hands of the Jets .

    The Jets had our number and their blitz defense was exceptional.

    Mr Galloways Regrets …………..

    Boy, Joey Galloway has lost more than a step or two that’s for sure !

    Yeah , I think that we can all agree that these’ll be some harrowing times for the Bucs .

    Who knew the Trojans could look so bad ? I know that Barkley had suffered an injury. But his replacement Aaron Corp was horrendous. His pass per yd attempts was bearly over 5 yds an attempt . My grandmother use to spit further than that. And she wasn’t even chewing tobacco.

    This was my piece on the USC Trojans .

    Ghetto Heaven We’re Trying To Get Back To Ghetto Heaven ……………

    Alan Parkins

  5. Alan,

    The Bucs O-line did look bad but I found it odd that they waited so long to throw a screen pass and when they did they ripped off 20 yards. I think it may have been called back because of yet another penalty. They threw a few swing passes but not true screens where you get a lineman or two out in front. That would have gone a long way toward slowing down their constant blitzing. I also thought they went away from the run too early. Ward was having some success. Leftwich didn’t look good but I wouldn’t question his manhood. He took a beating. With that said he is about as accurate as Shaq’s free throw shooting. 6 new starters on defense was too much to overcome but the Bucs could have blitzed a little more. My pewter glasses fell off my head and shattered on the floor. My long awaited trip to Tally for the USF game this weekend took a severe blow with Grothe going down and with the Giants game looming Sunday I can only wonder what I did to anger the Pigskin Gods.

    Nobody argued like the great Earl Weaver!

  6. Great post Sportschump. Really enjoyed it.
    But here’s a thought: as society moves towards the shock jock & polarized news & talk shows (where people talk over each other) some of this stuff might be for ratings or attention.

    So maybe it all started in baseball … and now everyone else is just catching on?

    I thought Serina, Wilson & West were waaaaaay out of line. Common sense, good manners & class may have been traded in for ego & schtick? I say keep it on the baseball diamond … where it belongs. As consumers, voters, viewers we need to pass that message along.

  7. Chris,

    I watched both of the Pats games this year and they are not the Pats of old. Call it underachieving but I think its more like Tom Brady is rusty and the talent pool has been bled. Especially veteran leadership on defense. No more Vrabel, no more Seau and no more Brusky. They also lost their o.c. which may in part explain their inability to move the ball (no dis intended to the Jets). Then you have the fact that Moss is 32 and Fred Taylor is 33, not exactly young for your number one WR and your number 1 RB.

    As for the NFC, Viking and Falcons don’t look too bad either and I think we all know that the Eagles would have looked alot better with McNabb or even dare I say Vick.

  8. Al… be right over to check out the MMA piece. The place where I watched the Gator game didn’t have it on.

    Which sport won the pay-per-view battle? The MMA or the boxing?

  9. Seth… The Pats are still a dangerous team. Remember, it’s only Brady’s 2nd game back. But you’re right, half that championship coaching staff is gone and those Jets were fired UP.

    They were tremendous favorites to win that division. Vegas didn’t give any other team a chance. I know it’s still early but had someone bet on Miami, Buffalo or the Jets to win that division and it pans out, they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

  10. Dolphins are going nowhere Chris. Looks like the hated JETS may finally have their division title….

  11. Oh and yes it could be a tough weekend for Tampa football although BJ Daniels appears to have some upside. Tough task going into Tally for his first start.

  12. Chris

    The PPV battle probably went to boxing. But still I wasn’t prepared to cough up $49-95 for the privilege.

    That’s the reason why I went to O-Town and hit up one of my boys there. He tivo’d the MMA stuff and then I watched it late Sunday afternoon.

    What the hell is going on with the Cubs ? Milton Bradley has been suspended and the finalization of the sale still hasn’t gone through. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Ricketts’ family backed out of the deal- when it’s all said and done.

    Winning Is Everything And The Only Thing So Can Someone Explain That To The Chicago Cubs ? ….

    Check out this piece on it but also watch the video closely . As it says a great deal about the mindset of Bradley to begin with.

    Alan Parkins

  13. Seth… I agree. I think the Fish overachieved last year. I’m not saying they’re gonna win. In fact, I think they lose to Indy tonight.

    I’m just saying if you took the field over New England, you might be okay.

  14. Chris

    They’re not going to go over the standard $49-95 mark for the bout. Not with the success that UFC had with UFC 103 and the fact that the undercard did a solid ratings’ showing on the Spike cable outlet. That’s something that the likes of Top Rank Inc , Don King Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions ought to be looking into. As clearly the Big Three boxing promo companies no longer clearly know their demographics.

    All three are now trying to outdo each other. Rather than creating a climate of goodwill and being able to coexist and co-promote fight programs together. This last PPV event was a rarity.

    Alan Parkins

  15. Chris

    Bradley’s more than a headcase! He’s a walking time bomb. What I for one can’t understand is why any team would take a chance on the guy -knowing the baggage that comes along with him.

    As to the PPV price. Well that’s always at a premium. Any outlet that’d think it’s in their besrt interest to charge more than $49-95 . Then they clearly don’t know their demographics and what the hell they’re doing to begin with.

    They could learn something as to what UFC did when staging their most recent promotion UFC 103.
    The undercard was showed on the CBS cable affiliate Spike TV. While the main event card was the PPV showing. It adds to the luster of the promotion and at the same time out of curiosity draws in new fans.

    Ghetto Heaven We’re Trying To Get Back To Ghetto Heaven …….

    The USC loss and its ramifications.

    Winning Is Everything And The Only Thing So Can Someone Explain That To The Chicago Cubs ? …….

    This piece deals with the Cubs and Milton Bradley. Also in that regard do read the first response from a mindless Cubs’ fan in response to the article. Clearly this numb-*ut hasn’t got an above average IQ.

    theoraclesays aka Alan …….

  16. Chris ….

    In whole this was his comment verbatim.

    “….I’m a life long Cubs fan…And let me just say you’ve confused points here regarding the Cubs. If your post was centered on another year of not winning a World Series, okay fine, you’d be adding to the well documented 100 years of futility on the title front. But to incorporate that into a larger theme that the Cubs aren’t any good, and things can’t get worse, you’ve strayed away from solid footing. Currently the Cubs are 4 games above .500, which indicates a classic average MLB team…Were also coming off Playoff appearances in 2007 and 2008, not to mention a NLCS 7 game loss to the Marlins in 2003. Say what you will but this decade the Cubs haven’t been awful by any means on the baseball landscape. And besides a twitchy August that saw us slide out of the race the Cubs were competitive, and have a ton of excellent pieces talent wise heading into next season. Things could be far far worse.

    As for Milton Bradley, he was a $30 Mil mistake, which luckily in baseball you can rid yourself in a variety of different ways. I like this move by management and wouldn’t mind cutting him and paying his salary in full.”

    dyslecix said this on September 21, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Reply (edit)

    You’ll note his moniker ? Need I say anymore ?

    theoraclesays ……….

  17. Al… I read that about Lane.

    I’m really starting to develop a healthy dislike for this guy.

    He can wish in one hand and do you know what in the other and see which one fills up first.

    There are no moral victories in college football. One word, Laney….. SCOREBOARD!

  18. Man, I’m sick about last night’s Miami loss. I see this as a foretelling of the rest of the season. No way any decent team doesn’t capitalize on last night’s ball control and win the game. Plus, I never liked the Ginn pick for Miami and after last night I especially don’t like it. Would be nice to trade Ginn & a couple of other players for Crabtree. Heh heh..

  19. Donny C… be careful before the 49ers accuse you of tampering.

    I hate to say it but I do think the Fish overachieved last year.

    That being said, last night’s game should have been won. I managed to catch a bit of it while peeking up from the poker table. 45 minutes to 15 in time of possession should be enough to win any ballgame.

    Unless of course, Peyton Manning is playing for the other team.

  20. Chris

    Your dislike for Lane is it somewhat similar to the one you’ve got for Osama Bin-Laden ? Lane’s been known to even pi_s off his mother-in-law . That’s how bad it’s become for the entire family.

    Even his own father is denying his birthright .

  21. We’ll see. Although the Falcons beat us decisively & we choked last night, I still think the Dolphins are a good team that will compete for their division title this season. The Falcons are immediately a championship caliber team. They’re playing killer defense and the BC QB has shown that he is no fluke. Adding Tony Gonzalez has made their offense a force to be reckoned with. I don’t feel so badly about losing to them; I feel badly because we were entirely ill-prepared for that game. The Falcons will likely play the Giants for the NFC title. We played well against the Colts in most phases of the game. We just failed to clamp down on defense in the clutch & failed to execute on offense in the clutch. If we play well at San Diego next week and win, you will see that type of play from Miami for the rest of the season. No fluke, baby.. We’ll be in the hunt in December for that East crown.

  22. Al… how can I nominate you as the next commissioner of boxing?

    And I wouldn’t quite put Kiffin among the ranks of Bin Laden quite yet.

    He’s not even close to a Bobby or Terry Bowden yet.

    But if he ever reels off a couple victories against my boys, we’ll reopen the discussion.

  23. Donny C… don’t sleep on the Saints or Vikes in the NFC, although Carl has to be stoked about the geeeeeeeeeee men.

    Those Giants fans… they’re like the nicest fans around.

  24. I’d keep an eye on the Saints. Freakin’ Brees is on CRACK but they won’t take Atlanta or the Giants when it comes down to it in January. Vikes look fairly nice so far but their lackluster defense will not carry them in the playoffs.

  25. Donny C… You’re not jumping on the Falcons bandwagon, are you?

    Next thing I know, you’ll be trading in your faded Marino jersey for the Morten Andersen special.

    He’s still on their roster, right? Guy’s not even as old as E!

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