Men Behaving Badly

Writing this from Las Vegas, where I’m spending a weekend of debauchery for my brother’s bachelor party. It’s the first time I’ve been here since I was 19, and likely the last for a good long time; writing about baseball doesn’t exactly yield the kind of money you can hemorrhage here without conscience (“call it a rounding error,” seems to be the weekend’s mantra) the way my brother’s investment banking friends do. Anyway, I’m taking a break from the heat and the scenery to catch the latest meltdown by Scott Proctor (his drilling of Kevin Youkilis last night was about all I caught of that game). Not exactly the ideal cure for what ails, but it beats the Jessica Simpson tunes blaring poolside, and I can break down and shave my tongue any time I need to.

First things first, the Hit List is here. Rather than expending another drop of energy discussing the sad state of the Yankees and the various Alex Rodriguez storylines — I did a radio hit on Wednesday and the first thing the host wanted to talk about was the New York Post cover, as if T&A scandals on athletes stepping out were my area of expertise — I’ll cut and paste what I wrote at Baseball Prospectus:

Desperate Times: a five-game losing streak sinks the Yankees to the bottom of the AL East standings before Alex Rodriguez takes a page from the McGraw Orioles by distracting Howie Clark from a popup. For all the bush league accusations (and who knows bush league better than John Gibbons?) and “Yankee Way” hoohah, you can guarantee former pinstripers such as Billy Martin and Leo Durocher would spike their grandmothers in envy of such gamesmanship. As for that other A-Rod story, it stinks of a smear job; since when does such alleged behavior among this demographic merit multi-tabloid, multi-news cycle coverage? How many times would Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio have made the cover of the New York Post if such “reporting” had carried the day? … Elsewhere, Jason Giambi endures a 4-for-44 slump amid heel problems of multiple varieties, and the Yankees strap in for a $28 million Rocket to Nowhere; they’re just 8-14 and have fallen eight games in the standings since announcing the Roger Clemens signing.

The Yanks are #14 in this week’s list, having fallen from two weeks at #12. As bad as they’ve been, they still hold a +30 run differential, which is a good indicator that they should be able to play better than .500 ball (you have to crawl before you can walk). The problem is that they’ve underperformed by a whopping 6.3 games, the largest shortfall in the majors according to BP’s Adjusted Standings, which factor in run elements, park adjustments and quality of competition. That said, now that it’s quite apparent the Yankees won’t be sweeping the Red Sox this weekend, I’m fully prepared to attach the Do Not Resuscitate tag to their chart.

Moving along to more amusing topics, while you may have seen Cub manager Lou Piniella’s meltdown, which comes a day after Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett brought new meaning to the term “batterymates” by scuffling in the dugout and again in the clubhouse, the one you really shouldn’t miss is that of Mississippi Braves Double-A skipper Phillip Wellman. There’s a brief description here, but the video — available on ESPN and now YouTube — is an absolute must-see.

Wellman amplifies a couple of tried-and-true tantrum tricks, not only covering home plate entirely in dirt (shades of Piniella and Art Howe, among others), but doing so with his hands and then redrawing a new home plate about three times the size. Additionally, he uproots not one but two bases (Earl Weaver, Lloyd McLendon), tossing third base into rightfield (Piniella) and carrying it and second base with him into the outfield. But in between those two bases, he adds a new one to the tantrum lexicon, crawling on his hands and knees, infantry-style, to the mound and lobbing the rosin bag at the home plate umpire as if it were a grenade. This being Vegas, I’ll wager that’s a vacation of about 10 days.

Freakin’ hilarious — do not miss it.

Update: Better yet, now that I’ve figured out how to embed YouTube video, you can watch it here. Or run for the hills before I unearth every great managerial tirade video on YouTube.

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