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EARL WEAVER
TOM VERDUCCI
July 13, 2009
A MIND FOR THE GAME Before laptops, spreadsheets and VORP, the wizard of Baltimore was winning pennants by following his own internal baseball calculus
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July 13, 2009

Earl Weaver

A MIND FOR THE GAME Before laptops, spreadsheets and VORP, the wizard of Baltimore was winning pennants by following his own internal baseball calculus

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"TEAM SPEED? GET SOME BIG#$@&*%$*! WHO CAN HIT THE #$@&*%!$* BALL OUT OF THE PARK!"

On a Saturday afternoon in mid-March, the most irascible manager in the history of the Baltimore Orioles is watching an Orioles pitcher get pasted, one hitter after another. This is only a spring training game at quaint Fort Lauderdale Stadium, not something that counted back at Baltimore's old Memorial Stadium, on 33rd Street. But Earl Weaver, cap pulled low, that leprechaun's twinkle in his eyes gone dark, does not like what he sees. All of his great teams—and they were all pretty great—were built on a foundation of reliable pitching. ¶ He won the pennant one year by making only 167 pitching changes in 159 games. Another year he won a championship by using 12 pitchers—not just in the World Series but the whole season.

Whack!

"Mix in a wild pitch or something!" the old manager blurts out.

Whack!

"Oh, my God!" Weaver croaks. Another shot, some 400 feet of solid contact, disappears out of sight, foul.

Whack!

"Who the hell is pitching?"

It does not diminish Weaver's agitation that this is a spring training game. His reason for being is pretty simple. If somebody is keeping score—be it in the Grapefruit League, in the World Series or in Ping-Pong games against blue-haired ladies on a cruise ship—Earl Sidney Weaver desperately wants to have more of whatever is being counted than you have. What drove him absolutely crazy as a manager, or absolutely [bleeping] crazy in the Weaver patois, were all the messy obstacles to his simple desire to win. What stood maddeningly in his way, besides the guys on the other side of the field, were ballplayers of his who made outs on the base paths, umpires, people who thought the hit-and-run play was good baseball, sacrifice bunts, umpires, the five-man rotation, that smart-aleck Palmer, umpires, pitchers who didn't throw strikes, fans who wanted the Orioles to run more and, well ... those bleeping umpires.

Weaver: You're here for one [bleeping] specific reason.

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