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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lee Elia's famous rant still makes Jim Leyland giggle, 30 years later

The 30th anniversary of former Cubs manager Lee Elia's legendary postgame rant was Monday, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland — who's uncorked a few doozies of his own in his time — was asked about it before Tuesday's game.

It didn't take much prompting for him to start laughing. [If you've never heard the rant, click here. Warning: NSFW, NC-17 language.]

"Oh, one of the greatest. One of the greatest I’ve ever heard. It was unbelievable. I mean, that’s Pulitzer Prize (stuff). Or whatever they say. Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize. Whatever the (heck) you guys get," Leyland said. "Absolutely beautiful.

"I love Lee Elia. I had managed against him in the minor leagues. I’ve known him all my life. I mean, he just obviously lost it — which was not a good thing for Lee to do.

"I have to admit, as a spectator, I thought it was spectacular."

That's not to say Leyland agreed with the sentiments in Elia's rant. Not at all. Just the fact that — as every manager has at some point in time — the Cubs skipper lost it in volcanic fashion.

"And I don’t mean that as an offense against any Cub fans. I’m just saying the thing itself was — I mean, I’ve heard all those. Somebody had a tape at one time or another of all of them: (Tommy) Lasorda’s, Elia’s, Earl Weaver’s, Frank Howard’s. You know, if you’re a manager, you can have a great appreciation for all those," Leyland said.

"I mean, I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it, but I can’t say I wasn’t laughing my (butt) off, because I was."

And he can commiserate with the fact that Elia has been immortalized for that lone moment of lost control. Leyland's got his own moments.

Think the NSFW, face-to-face contfrontation with Barry Bonds, cussing out the outfielder in spring training. 

Think the "have the guts to write what you saw" moment in Boston last May, the clip of which is still standard fare on the MLB Network. 

He'll admit he's trying to reduce the number, though.

"You try to avoid those at all costs, if you can," he said with a grin.

Has he ever come close to a truly monumental one, though?

"Well, I’ve probably said some things I probably shouldn’t have said," he admitted. "Probably out of line at times, but there’s sometimes that you guys agitate enough, that people get (ticked) off."

Come to think of it, it HAS been a while since Leyland truly uncorked one.

"No, I’ve really worked hard at that. That was one of my New Year’s resolutions. I’ve been pretty good so far," he said, tongue-in-cheek.

"You don’t like to do that. It’s not fun making a fool of yourself. But you guys like it, because it’s news. I’m sure you’d love to play that on the radio in the morning, Lee Elia’s thing, wouldn’t you? Sure. You get customers. They’d love to hear something like that.

"I’m not going to do that, I can tell you that. Not like that.

"Believe or not — trust me when I tell you this — we don’t look for fights. But sometimes ..."

How about the classic dressing-room explosion in 2006, the one that's often credited with turning around what eventually became a World Series season.

"Well, that was memorable in the clubhouse, but not really memorable in the media. Wasn’t too pretty in the clubhouse," Leyland said.

"Most of the time, you guys understand. You’re looking for news. You know if a manager’s agitated, so you agitate him along a little more, to try to see if you can get him stirred up, get something out of him. I don’t blame you. That’s your job.

"I try to avoid that, if I can."

Lee Elia will continue to stand alone for a while, if that's the case.


Blogger Unknown said...

You didn't mention his "fastball right down the cock" rant from '08. His finest work!

April 30, 2013 at 9:01 PM 

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