You call that a rant? Here’s a rant!

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Brett Lawrie’s latest temper tantrum on the baseball diamond was impressive in the annals of baseball blowups, but when his wayward helmet struck home plate umpire Bill Miller, the Associated Press was inspired to make a list, and Toronto’s infielder wasn’t on it.

By Ben Walker
AP Baseball Writer

Helmet tossing and bat banging have become all the rage, it seems. Yet suspended Toronto infielder Brett Lawrie and injured Washington teen phenom Bryce Harper still have a long way to go before hitting our list of baseball’s wildest rants and raves.

These guys all rank:

George Brett

Has a player ever looked more crazed on a ballfield than Mr. Pine Tar? Seriously, ever?

Arms waving, eyes bulging and screaming with every step, the Royals star charged from the Yankee Stadium dugout after umpire Tim McClelland called him out in 1983. It took other umpires, teammates and even opponents to settle down Brett and nearly a month to officially finish the game.

Almost 30 years later, it might be the most-replayed meltdown ever. “I went a little ballistic,” he said.

Lou Piniella

He earned his place forever when he went batty – make that baggy – in 1990 while managing the Reds.

Upset by a call at first base, he flung his hat at umpire Dutch Rennert’s feet and was ejected. Not-so-Sweet Lou then picked up first base and tossed it into the infield. Not completely satisfied, Piniella grabbed the bag again and threw it into right field.

“Some guys were saying they should make it a new Olympic sport,” Cincinnati first baseman Hal Morris said at the time.

Billy Martin vs. Reggie Jackson

The Bronx Zoo at its best, circa 1977.

Upset after he thought Jackson loafed for a fly ball, Martin tried to embarrass the famed outfielder by pulling him in the middle of an inning.

At Fenway Park, no less, during a nationally televised game, when national TV was something special.

Martin was waiting for Jackson in the dugout, jaw clenched, looking ready to tangle. Jackson stood with his arms apart as Martin fumed, but they avoided coming to blows.

Roger Clemens vs. Mike Piazza

The Rocket beaned Piazza three months earlier, and tension was high at Yankee Stadium as they faced each other in the first inning in Game 2 of the 2000 World Series.

When Piazza’s bat shattered on the Rocket’s fastball, Clemens grabbed the jagged barrel and slung it in front of the Mets star as he ran toward first base, narrowly missing him.

Players from both sides came onto the field without incident. Clemens claimed he simply threw the broken wood to the batboy.

“It was bizarre,” Piazza said.

Roberto Alomar

A great career was marred by what happened late in the 1996 season.

Angered by a called third strike, the Baltimore star got into a venomous argument with plate umpire John Hirschbeck, then spit in his face. The next day, upset by Alomar’s remarks, Hirschbeck bolted into the Orioles’ clubhouse in Toronto.

The spitting, some feel, cost him first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame.

“I regret every bit of it. I apologized many times to John,” Alomar said after getting enough votes this year.

Lee Elia

A light-hitting shortstop, he left his mark on the majors with his mouth. All in little over 3 minutes, too.

Beaten down after another loss in 1983, the Chicago Cubs’ manager unleashed a tirade that, at best count, included almost 50 pieces of profanity. Mostly, he took off on the booing fans at Wrigley Field.

More or less, he said: “Eighty five percent of the world is working. The other 15 come out here.”

Elia apologized to the team and city soon thereafter, then was fired later in the season.

Earl Weaver

For someone who tore up rulebooks and pointed the bill of his cap backward to go nose-to-nose with umpires, what the Hall of Fame manager did in 1977 seemed downright mild.

But the Baltimore skipper was sure he was right, and he pulled the O’s off the field in Toronto down 4-0 in the fifth inning over a dispute about the tarp at Exhibition Stadium.

The only forfeit in Orioles’ history came during a pennant race, too.

As for his argument with ump Marty Springstead, Weaver said: “The man gets incoherent.”

Lenny Randle vs. Frank Lucchesi

Randle sometimes shows up in highlight reels for the time he got on his hands and knees and tried to blow a trickler down the third-base line into foul territory.

But there was nothing funny about his confrontation with the Texas manager in 1977.

Having lost his starting job, Randle began arguing with Lucchesi during batting practice, then punched him in the face, breaking his cheekbone. The Rangers suspended Randle for 30 days and soon traded him away.

Disco Demolition Night

What began as a playful promotion ended up as a near-riot at Comiskey Park in 1979.

The idea was for fans to bring despised disco records to the ballpark, and they’d be put in a box and blown up in between games of a Chicago-Detroit doubleheader. An overflow crowd turned rowdy and overran the field, setting fires and forcing Game 2 to be called off.

Said Mike Veeck, in charge of team promotions for the White Sox: “I grew up when people were marching for civil rights, marching against the war. I didn’t think they would be marching because they hated the Bee Gees.”

Phillip Wellman

Haven’t heard of him? Well, you’ve probably seen him.

He was managing the Double-A Mississippi Braves in 2007 when his tantrum went viral. Peeved that an umpire ejected his pitcher for using a foreign substance, Wellman threw his hat and started shouting. He piled dirt on the plate and drew an outline of the dish.

Later, he yanked up a pair of bases, got down on his belly to pretend he was crawling, then “pulled the pin” on the rosin bag and threw it like a grenade at the umpire and blew kisses to the crowd.

Oh yeah, that guy.

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