Sunday, January 2, 2011

YouTube SENSATION: Minor League Manager's Tirade

This is just too much. Sure it's entertaining and yes I would have loved to have seen it in person, but there's a difference between sticking up for your players and drawing attention to yourself. This was a spectacle. I'd be shocked if Phil Wellman's last words before running out of the dugout weren't "Check this out. Five bucks I get on SportsCenter." Maybe he just took the 'getting ejected to spark some life into your team' strategy to a new extreme, but this just seemed to me like he'd spent years of his life as an unknown minor league manager and he wanted his time in the spotlight. He'd paid his dues through a life of anonymity, now he wanted the crowd to cheer for him for once. He wanted six-digit YouTube views, and well, he got it. Hey, good for him.

This whole tirade was entirely way too long- did anyone else find themselves continually clicking 10-15 seconds ahead on the video: "Ok I got that, so what'd he do next?" If you're gonna get tossed then I guess you want to get your money's worth, but once you dig out third base, we get it, you're mad. Ahw man, now you're going to dig out second? We're gonna be here all night. And you're gonna exit through the Right Field wall, the longest possible route for you to slowly waddle your way out of here? Ok, I'm gonna go to the bathroom and grab a hot dog, you guys want anything?

The whole show was too over the top for me. The grenade? Granted it was an unbelievable toss- kudos for landing it right at the ump's feet- but I mean come on. What did that even mean, what was the point? I cringed watching him crawl military-style toward the rosin bag; I think that was the moment when he knew he had the crowd's full attention and he thought to himself, "What can I do that's so random everyone here will have to tell someone about it tomorrow? Boom, grenade!"

And what's with the salute at the end? All that did was confirm the fact that this whole charade had nothing to do with the umpires, the players, the game of baseball, grenades, or any other type of artillery- this was the Phil Wellman Show, and it was all about him. He was simply an entertainer acknowledging his audience and exiting stage right.

Wellman's rant reminded me of these long drawn-out handshakes some players do in the dugout, or, if they're really starved for attention, in the on-deck circle or in front of some fans pre-game. Sure it's entertaining, but then you realize that these kids not only planned out this complicated handshake, but likely practiced it several times as well, just so they could draw attention to themselves and look cool. "No no, the pound comes before gun-fingers! Then it's the chest-bump. Ok ok, try it again." I actually don't mind some of them- they're entertaining and remind fans of how loose and fun the game is, but most of them are just so unnatural. That's what Phil Wellman's ejection was: unnatural. It wasn't an honest reaction to a call, it was a pre-meditated act meant to draw attention to himself, and a highly successful one indeed. I need more honesty out of my manager tirades. I need him to be too angry to bow and blow kisses to the fans.

Although, I guess I have to sort of hand it to Wellman. Thousands of people now know his name, he had a stadium full of people cheering for him, and I'm hoping one of his friends DVR'ed his feature on SportsCenter for him to cherish forever. That's pretty good, I would happily take any one of those- so in a way, Phil Wellman, I salute you. But I still think your tirade is overrated.

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