The day Elia became forever linked to Knight, Lasorda and so on
May 1, 2003
I’m in the market for a new cell phone, so naturally I headed out to Pac Bell Park on Tuesday to see if I could snag one that was being thrown from the stands. No luck in that regard, but I did discover that the Chicago Cubs were in town.
It seemed odd to see Dusty Baker seated in the visitors’ dugout and that seemed to be all that anyone could talk about. Would Baker order an intentional walk if Barry Bonds came up with runners on base? (He did.) What would the fan reaction be when Baker was announced? (He was lustily booed.) Would he be wearing blue wristbands? (Yes.)
All of this barely interested me — all I could think of was the date. You Cubs fans know what I’m talking about. You see, April 29, 2003, marked the 20th anniversary of the greatest sports tirade ever heard.
Yes, it was on April 29, 1983, that Cubs manager Lee Elia let loose with a postgame rant that was so shockingly profane that not only did it get him fired, but it became a part of baseball lore.
The Cubs had just lost to fall to 5-14 and as the players walked to the clubhouse two Cubs had to be restrained from confrontations with debris-throwing fans. When Elia was asked about it he snapped. Fortunately for posterity, a radio reporter recorded it all.
The tirade went on for three minutes. Here are two excerpts:
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“I’ll tell you one (expletive) thing, I hope we get (expletive) hotter than (expletive) just to stuff it up them 3,000 (expletive) people that show up every (expletive) day. Because if they’re the real Chicago (expletive) fans, they can kiss my (expletive) right downtown and print it! …
“Eighty-five percent of the (expletive) world’s working and the other 15 come out here, a (expletive) playground for the (expletive). Rip them (expletive). Rip them country (expletive) like the (expletive) players.”
Elia, 65, now is a coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Although Elia’s may be the most legendary, the career leader in expletives thrown has to be former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. A true profanity artist, Lasorda had all the tools — he mixed his expletives well, paced himself, and had good endurance.
His best riff probably occurred on June 4, 1976, following a game in which the Mets’ Dave Kingman had hit three home runs.
Lasorda: Well, naturally I feel bad about losing a ball game like that. There’s no way you should lose that ball game. An’, it, uh, just doesn’t make sense.
Reporter: What’s your opinion of Kingman’s performance?
Lasorda: What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance!? What the BLEEP do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was BLEEPING BLEEP. Put that in, I don’t BLEEP. Opinion of his performance!!? BLEEP, he beat us with three BLEEPING home runs! What the BLEEP do you mean, “What is my opinion of his performance?” How could you ask me a question like that, “What is my opinion of his performance?” BLEEP, he hit three home runs! BLEEP. I’m BLEEPING pissed off to lose that BLEEPING game. And you ask me my opinion of his peIrformance! BLEEP. That’s a tough question to ask me, isn’t it? “What is my opinion of his performance?”
Reporter: Yes, it is. I asked it and you gave me an answer.
Lasorda: Well, I didn’t give you a good answer because I’m mad, but I mean…
Reporter: Well, it wasn’t a good question E
Lasorda: That’s a tough question to ask me right now, “What is my opinion of his performance.” I mean, you want me to tell you what my opinion of his performance is …
Reporter: You just did.
Lasorda: That’s right. BLEEP. Guy hits three home runs against us. BLEEP.
Elsewhere in baseball’s Hall of Profanity, guys like Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and Lou Pinella could hold their own with anyone. But what of basketball? The king, of course, is Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight, whose most famed tirade would have to be the following dressing down of his Indiana squad before a game with Purdue.
“… then I’m leaving and you &%$#!*! guys will run until you can’t eat supper. Now I am tired of this $%&!. I’m sick and &%$#!@! tired of an 8-10 record. I’m &%$#!*! tired of losing to Purdue. I’m not here to &%$# around this week. Now you may be, but I’m not. Now I am gonna &%$#!*! guarantee you, that if we don’t play up there Monday night, you aren’t gonna believe the next four &%$#!*! days. Now I am not here to get my @$% beat on Monday. Now you better understand that right now. This is absolute &%$#!*! bull&%&!. Now I’ll &%$#!*! run your @$% right into the ground. I mean I’ll &%$#!*! run you, you’ll think last night was a &%$#!*! picnic. I had to sit around for a &%$#!*! year with an 8-10 record in this &%$#!*! league and I mean you will not put me in that &%$#!*! position again, or you will &^$ (*$#%@# pay for it like you can’t &%$#!*! believe.”
The jury is out on whether any of these coaches is truly deranged — my guess is that it’s just temporary insanity due to the long grind. But in the noncoaching division, here, of course, is an athlete who is combustible — Mike Tyson. An excerpt from his most famous rant, taken from a press conference before his fight with Lennox Lewis:
“Look at you, you scared now, you punk. Scared like a little white (beep). Scared of the real man. I’ll (beep) you until you love me. (beep).”
Well, that’s it; I’m out of ways to substitute swear words in the copy. Good night, folks.
— Rick Chandler’s interactive sports column, Capacity Crowd, can be found at NBCSports.com. Contact him at RickChand@earthlink.net E
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