Sunday, June 3, 2007


There are moments that make us shake our heads in disbelief such as Vladimir Guerrero blasting a homer off a pitch so low that ants seek shelter. There are those times where we are amazed by the sheer speed of a running back as he gets past the safeties en route to a 60+ yard score. There are plays that make Kevin Harlan an ideal announcer for the AND-1 Mixtape Tour. Yet, could there have been something more impressive - albeit, a little embarrasing - recently than what took place in Chattanooga, TN?

I seriously doubt it.

Oh, sure, the Cleveland Cavaliers played fearlessly to thrwart the Detroit Pistons to make their first NBA Finals appearance. The Senators carried a nation on its back to beat the Anaheim Ducks in Ottawa in the Stanley Cup Finals. Rafael Nadal is still undefeated in three straight French Opens. Yet, I was thoroughly impressed by Phillip Wellman's show. It was a perfect blend of pure athleticism, focus and unrelenting passion.

I'm not kidding.

First, there is the approach to umpire Brent Rice. He seems to appear from nowhere, but his running throw of his hat was strong. He follows with a visual presentation of his emotions similar to the Happy Hands Club of Napolean Dynamite fame, only that Rice may have asked for less realism. Wellman's real age declines by the second as he shows the crowd that his fingerpainting skills haven't dulled since kindergarten. Covering home plate is one thing. Making your own home is another.

Usually, this is where other managers would decide to take home a souvenir such as a base. After they get their mitts on the base, they remember that posession is nine-tenths of the law. Tossing the evidence is vital here, so Wellman does a great job in giving third base back to the sacred ground. Sources tell me that he may be called for a try-out with the 2008 US Olympic Discus team.

This is where the fun begins. Wellman, who is the manager for the Double A Mississippi Braves, seems to have a flashback to his days serving in the Gulf War or got very tired of walking. Based on his Army crawl alone, this could be the single greatest meltdown in sports history. Even better was the fact that he knew to "pull the pin" of his rosin grenade.

Now, readers, here is where you can chime in. How do you describe his mocking dance/shimmy after his grenade toss?

At last, he decides to leave the diamond, but not before committing larceny again.

Seriously, one of the most childish aspects in sports are manager tantrums in baseball. Apparently, when a manager gets tossed, it's to rile up his team to execute better. While it doesn't work very often, it does show that he will put himself to the fire for his guys. However, as Wellman and later, Lou Pinella prove, the act is a bit much. A few expletives and finger-pointing should be enough, but they essentially embarrass players, fans and more damning, management. While discipline is well-earned for going to the extremes, you hope that in retrospect, everyone involved, including the offended umpires can share a good laugh.

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