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6/22/2007 12:47:00 PM

Can't Keep A Good Man Down

Pedro Martinez, Don Zimmer
Pedro Martinez didn't care about Don Zimmer's age when he flung the Yankees coach to the ground in 2003.
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker

They got knocked down, but they got up again. Most of them, anyway. Today's List is dedicated to the lifers, the men who've dedicated decades of their existence to their chosen sport, only to be rewarded by being deposited on their can by an overzealous player (or a bat).

These instances aren't necessarily funny -- though I don't care what you say, the Tommy Lasorda one is hilarious -- but we present them as a cautionary tale: Watch where you stand, coaches, particularly you older men. When it's in the game, it's in the game.

(And what did I learn while writing this list? That Major League Baseball is ridiculously strict about their videos appearing on YouTube. In fact, I couldn't find video of any of these baseball incidents online. I understand protecting your property and all that, but give the fans a little something, Bud!)

1) Tommy Lasorda vs. Vlad Guerrero's bat: Easily the funniest moment on this list, especially because it happened on such a high-profile stage. Lasorda, coaching third base during the 2001 All-Star Game, stood helplessly as Guerrero's bat shattered and spun through the air toward him. It seemed to happen in slow motion, like that suitcase at the beginning of The $6 Million Man. Lasorda got nailed in the hip and went down awkwardly, falling back and to the side. Even the photos of it are just hilarious. Meanwhile, in the American League dugout, Don Zimmer sat watching…

2) Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez: This happened during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS. It was supposed to be Martinez versus Roger Clemens, but after Clemens came inside against Manny Ramirez (following a beaning by Pedro), the benches emptied. And for some reason, Yankees bench coach Zimmer, all of 72 years young, decided he needed to take on Pedro. He charged Pedro and, at least live, it seemed like Martinez threw Zimmer to the ground. Upon further review, it became obvious that Pedro more accurately guided Zimmer to the turf -- face-first, sure but he did guide him.

3) Dick Bavetta vs. The Floor: It was a great idea: Retired NBA legend Charles Barkley in a foot race against active sexagenarian NBA ref Dick Bavetta during All-Star Weekend in Vegas. Before the race, Bavetta compared himself to Seabiscuit, but I don't think he meant the race where Seabiscuit broke his leg. Rather predictably, Barkley smoked Bavetta in the race. In an effort to spice up the ending, Bavetta inexplicably chose to dive headfirst across the finish line, scraping his knee in the process. (Barkley adds a bonus tumble.) Thanks to the NBA not hating their fans, you can see video of the race here.

4) Gregg Popovich vs. Robert Horry: I saw it with my own eyes during Game 2 of thie year's NBA Finals in San Antonio. While the rest of America was trying to figure out what the hell had happened at the end of the The Sopranos, the Spurs were polishing off the Cavs. And even though the game was pretty much over, Horry suddenly decided to show some hustle and he dove for a loose ball right along the scoreboard. Popovich appeared as shocked as anyone else, because he never moved out of the way and got floored by Horry. "I was hoping he wasn't going to move because I was trying to go the other way," Horry said later, "and I went right into him. But he got up fast."

5) Joe Paterno vs. two players: The 79-year-old Penn State coach was patrolling the sideline last season during a game against Wisconsin when the game suddenly came to him. Really hard. Paterno suffered a broken bone in his leg and required surgery and crutches, but will back on the sidelines next season. Not making light of the injury aspect, but

Can you add to the list? Let us know below…

Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com.
posted by SI.com | View comments |


Posted: June 22, 2007 1:36 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
The only one I can think off the top of my head is Lou Pinella getting wrestled to the ground by Rob Dibble, his own pitcher, during a clubhouse fight back in the early 90s. 15 or so years later, Sweet Lou is still doing his thing.
Posted: June 22, 2007 2:51 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
You left out the best part of the Lasorda bat incident: After he regained his footing, Barry Bonds ran out of the dugout and tried to strap a chest protector to his waist. Maybe the most enjoyable Bonds moment of all-time.
Posted: June 22, 2007 3:57 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
If Mike Tice is old, how about when he sprained his knee when he got hit like JoePa?
Posted: June 22, 2007 4:17 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Former Longhorn coach John Mackovic was flattened by a player at fool speed. He landed on his back and his head snapped against the artificial turf. Poor guy was never the same.
How about when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes tackled the runner on the opposing team running down the field ?
Posted: June 22, 2007 11:00 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
How about when Darrell Green got trucked by Deshaun Foster
Posted: June 23, 2007 10:35 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Lou Holtz diving in to try to stop the brawl that broke out between S. Carolina and Clemson.
Posted: June 24, 2007 8:45 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about the infamous Jeff Van Gundy vs. Alonzo Mourning's leg back in the 1998 playoffs as part of that fantastic Knicks-Heat rivalry?? Certainly that belongs on the list...
Posted: June 24, 2007 10:08 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
you also left out the most memorable one: Jeff Van Gundy holding Mourning's leg. Jeff looks like an old caring grandpa.
Posted: June 25, 2007 12:16 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
What about JVG vs. Alonzo's ankle?
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