Exit strategy (cont.)
Posted: Thursday May 31, 2007 12:39PM; Updated: Sunday June 3, 2007 8:55PM
One part of getting ejected that Cox and Weaver have in common is that their arguments many times begin off the field. Cox, especially when his team is at bat, is often found at the end of the Braves' dugout yelling for his players. More than a few times over the years, umpires have looked in to cool him down when he complains about how the home plate umpire is calling the game. Many of his ejections have been over arguing balls and strikes.
When Weaver wasn't back in the tunnel leading to the dugout sneaking a cigarette, he was up on the rail giving the home plate umpire all sorts of grief. "Working a game with him in the dugout is like wearing a headset," former big-league umpire Marty Springstead once told the Washington Post. "I'm behind the plate trying to do my job, and there's this little voice in my ear the whole night."
Neither Cox nor Weaver -- who squared off against each other in the 1980s, when Cox was with the Blue Jays and Weaver had made a comeback with the Orioles -- is especially proud of his place among the most-tossed managers in the history of the game. In fact, both say they're often "embarrassed" about it. Cox, who has been asked about his pending record just about every day for the past several weeks -- he actually already owns the record for managers, but McGraw was thrown out 14 times as a player, too -- is about fed up with the whole topic. "Is the commissioner coming?," he wryly asked a couple of reporters the other day.
To some, though, getting tossed says a lot about passion and dedication. Cox is respected for protecting his players, getting between them and the umps before a rhubarb starts. Once in a while, it seems as if Cox will get into it with umpires just to fire up his team.
Weaver was the same way, though he cautions that the main reason he went out there to go jaw-to-jaw was often the most overlooked.
"[Protecting players] is some of them, but not a hell of a lot of them. And you don't do it to fire up the ballclub," Weaver said. "You do it because you're mad at the umpire and feel that he's taken away something from your ballclub."
Weaver recalled a few times when he'd get on the umpires simply because his players, who watched his antics alternately with glee and disgust, demanded it. Those didn't end very well, either.
"I know, when Gaylord [Perry] pitched against us, for crying out loud, everybody on the bench would be saying 'Earl, he's throwing a spitter. Earl, he's throwing a spitter,'" Weaver remembers with a chuckle. "You tell the ump two or three times, the umpires don't want to hear no more of it. But you got to say something."
So that's what Weaver did. And that's what Cox still does -- like few others ever have.