Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tommy Lasorda argues with umpire, gets shown back to seat


The old man still has it. As Joe Torre and the rest of the Los Angeles Dodgers make for a spring training game in China, the better half of the split squad is under the management of 80-year-old Norristown, Pa., native Tommy Lasorda. And he gave 'em hell.

The Florida Marlins were in Dodgertown for a game against Lasorda's team on Tuesday.

The innings blur together, but at some point in the contest:

One of Tommy's hitters lays down a sweet bunt on the first-base line. Pitcher charges for the ball. Pitcher intersects Runner's path to make the play. Pitcher stops in the base line, blocking Runner's way - a violation of the no-obstructing-the-base-path rule. Or at least, that's what Tommy thinks.

Pitcher tags Runner. Runner is out. Or at least, that's what Ump thinks.

Tommy isn't happy.

He leaps off his dugout chair and gets into Ump's face. Above, he sticks out his tongue and clasps his hands to his hips. It's the "you've gotta be kiddin' me, man" act. His players laugh in the background.

The fans get louder. "Get 'im, Tommy," one man yells. "Show Blue who's boss." He's probably drunk, for the beer man is effectively pushing his "Ice cold Bud, Bud Light and Miller Lite."


Above, Tommy points toward the Dodgers' dugout. The gesture has no obvious connection to the argument.


As they near the dugout, Ref takes over for Ump and assumes their animated pointing, above. It's as though they're dancing. The reffing crew thinks it's a joke: Smirks are on their faces.

But Tommy won't back down. He's all business. It's a dance of frustration, of protest.

I figure out what they're pointing at: Tommy's chair from which he earlier bolted. Ref wants him to take a seat.

I can't hear what they're saying, but I can imagine.

"Should I sit in this one?" Tommy says, pointing. "This one right here? Or this one? Tell me."

"Right there," Ref says, pointing.

Tommy sits in the chair. And wrinkles his nose. He lost the argument. And he's disappointed.

But to fans, Tommy is triumphant.

"That was worth it all," a fan says. "That was worth the plane ticket, the hotel reservation and the ticket to the game. That was great."

This is the ball that Tommy Lasorda took the time to autograph for me, when none of the other dodgy Dodgers would.

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