In baseball, all that agitated stomping around in front of the umpire is good for a laugh. But have you ever wondered if a major league manager or player has ever won an argument with the ump?
Well, it turns out, examples of managers successfully brow-beating umpires into changing calls do exist. Mind you they’re rare, but such things have happened.
In fact, there’s a relatively recent example from an Angels vs. White Sox playoff game. Umpire Randy Marsh mistakenly called runner A.J. Pierzynski out after pitcher Kelvim Escobar tagged him with his bare hand while holding the ball in his glove. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen argued the call and the umpires ruled Pierzynski safe.
Farther back, in a 1924 Giants vs. Cubs game, with runners on first and second and a full count on the Cubs’ batter, umpire Bill Klem called ball four on a check swing, forcing the man on second over to third. The catcher, however, thought the batter had swung and threw the ball to the third baseman, who tagged the incoming runner.
The Giants, led by irascible manager John McGraw, argued that the batter had actually swung, striking out, transforming the runner tagged at third into an out as well. After consulting another umpire, Klem reversed his decision, changing the pitch to a strike and calling both batter and runner out.
The Cubs lodged an official protest, pointing out the runner had been tagged at third only because of Klem's original call. The National League president ruled the game a “no contest.”
Great sports lines of our time?
Wrapping their tongues around these memorable lines, sports linguists have given us the following logic:
• Bill Peterson, Florida football coach turned sportscaster, once said, “This is the greatest country in America!”
• Danny Ozark, while managing the Phillies, asserted, “I will not be co-horsed!”
• Harvey Kuenn, manager of the Brewers, was commenting on a very close game and said, “Well, they had us with the walls to our back!”
This collection would have to include Yogi Berra, of course. The famous Yankee catcher said things such as:
• “If people don’t wanna come to the ballpark, nobodys gonna stop ’em!”
• “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
• “Ninety-nine per cent of life is half mental.”
• “The game ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
• “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him!”
• “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
• Someone asked Yogi what time it was and he said, “You mean now?”
• Yogi was once asked why the shadows in left field caused fielders so much trouble, and he replied, “Well, it gets late early out there!”
• When talking about a restaurant, Yogi observed, “You know, nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded!”
And, last but not least, coming in a close second to Yogi in mixed-up logic would be the immortal Casey Stengel of the Yankees:
• Casey was talking to a group of rookies and instructed, “Now, you fellas line up alphabetically by height.”
• On another occasion, Casey was referring to a colleague and said, “He’s dead at the present time.”
Is it over?
Have you ever wondered who came up with the old sports adage, “It’s never over ’til the fat lady sings?”
You know how it goes. It’s the bottom of the ninth. The home team is down by five. Things look bad, but then again, “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”
The phrase, a form of self-reassurance (or denial) in the face of long odds, is usually muttered when things look grim. The adage sounds like it sprung from the mouth of a weary opera patron, but it was actually coined by a sportswriter and broadcaster named Dan Cook.
Cook covered the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs in the 1970s. In 1978, the Spurs were up against the Washington Bullets in the playoffs and down three games to one. Cook, who had used the witticism once before in a column, repeated it on the air as a way to cheer up Spurs fans. Alas, despite making it close, the Spurs lost the series.
Bullets coach Dick Motta apparently liked the saying and used it to motivate his own team. The Bullets went on to win the championship, proving that sometimes inspirational clichés are, “Too little, too late.”