Wednesday, January 18, 2012

IT'S ON! -- More Hilarious Spill: Lasorda vs. Zimmer

This is a debate that's been going on in my head for almost a decade. There are two classic spills in recent baseball history that will forever serve as the benchmark for on-field hilarity - but which is better?

The Lasorda back somersault and the Zimmer bull rush are just about as good as it gets when it comes to unexpected ball-game entertainment - both instant classics, every TV network's dream. Now I realize that they are both old news - heck, I think Vlad was wearing an Expos uniform as he hunted down poor Tommy - but even today, if you're able to watch a replay of either without laughing, well then my hat is off to you. 

Both of these men have dedicated their lives to the game of baseball. They have given everything they have as players, coaches, and managers, yet in my mind, these two legendary names will forever be linked by these timeless bloopers - I just can't figure out which one I enjoy more.

First, there's our pal Tommy Lasorda. An honorary manager at the 2001 All-Star Game, Tommy was hanging out in the 3rd base coach's box just minding his own business, taking it all in - great players, fun crowd, beautiful summer night - what could be better? Then, WHACK, Vlad Guerrero hits a foul ball down the right field line. Unfortunately for Lasorda, Vlad's broken bat came flying end over end down the left field line. He was a deer in the head lights with nowhere to go. The scene played out in slow motion. The bat hit him square across the chest and Lasorda transformed into a giant Weeble Wobble, only in this case, the Weeble wobbled and fell down. And then plunged helplessly into a backward somersault. 

After witnessing the most unathletic tumble of all time, everyone in attendance collectively held their breath. Was the 73-year old injured? Lasorda then got up, dusted himself off, and acknowledged to the crowd that he was indeed alright. This, of course, translated into: It's ok to begin laughing hysterically now. I'm not hurt. And so the crowd burst into uproarious laughter, growing more rowdy with each in-stadium replay - and just like that, my personal favorite All-Star Game moment was born.

I am still in awe at how Lasorda managed to fall completely backward. He never tried to shield the impact of the bat, never turned away - just took it square on. I'm entirely confident you could table-top every other person in that stadium and not produce a more hilarious, clumsy fall than the one Tommy put forth. Just a Hall of Famer churning out another Hall of Fame moment.

Everyone watching was thrilled he was ok, mainly because it was simply too funny a moment to be weighed down by something as serious as an injury. Everybody was yuckin' it up and enjoying a good laugh at old Tommy's expense. Even American League bench coach Don Zimmer couldn't hide his big grin - little did he know he would have his own legendary tumble just two years later.

Unlike Lasorda, Zimmer's fall was a result of his own actions - he was no victim. After rewatching the clip, I think there's a point where you can actually see something click in his head making him think he was forty years younger than he really was. In Don's mind, he was a fighter pilot locked on a target. I got you Pedro. You can't run now. Completely possessed, he would not be denied.

Sadly, as he confidently "raced" across the field to the opposing dugout, the rest of the world saw a deranged, overweight Mr. Magoo stumbling toward an unknown destination. Then it became clear who he was after, and what ensued was equal parts hilarious and pathetic. Zimmer channeled his inner Bill Goldberg and lunged at Pedro. Pedro's reaction was priceless - like a seasoned matador welcoming the rush rather than escaping it. He takes on the charging Zim by his bulbous head and flings him to the ground, as if to say, You kiddin me old man? I fight guys like you on the way to fights.

You gotta love the old-timer's passion though. Pedro threw at one of his guys - you better believe he was going to do something about it. The competitive fires still burned deep in the big belly of Don Zimmer. But unfortunately, as much as he wanted to defend the honor of his team, at the end of the day, the dazed look on his face after his notorious tumble says it all. What just happened? Caught up in the moment, Zim was in over his head. The result? A hilarious new chapter in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

So there you have it - my gold standard for baseball comedy. As far as falls go, these two are the undisputed best. But before the AARP gets on my case, claiming I'm an ageist who takes pleasure in the shortcomings of older people, let me just say that these two tumbles are first-rate slapstick regardless of age. If Joe Girardi charged at a player and got ol√©’ed to the ground, I'd be in stitches; if Don Mattingly flew back ass over teakettle down the 3rd base line, my DVR would explode due to the number of replays. Falling is funny, it's in our nature to laugh - you just hope the person's ok so you don't have to hide it.

But still, the question remains - which one is better?


  1. It doesn't get any better than Lasorda's Tweedle Dum hand spring, Tommy wins hands down

  2. "ass over teakettle" may be the best term ever

  3. oh and Zim for the win. unintentional embarrassment while trying to be a tough guys trumps all other kinds of embarrassment.

  4. Pedro ripped his head off! I love that one.