On April 29, 1983, the Cubs lost by a run to the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, dropping them to 5-14 and last place in the National League East. Afterward, an L.A. reporter asked Cubs manager Lee Elia a question about the team’s lack of fan support. Elia responded with an unbridled fusillade of F-bombs and profanities, some that made even the heartiest of souls blush a little.
Back in ’83 the White Sox were on their way to a division title while the Cubs were the baseball outcasts of the city, averaging just over 18,000 in paid attendance per game. The Wrigleyville neighborhood was not the sprawling shrine to Cubs consumerism that it is today, the franchise was near rock bottom, and Elia’s bombastic tirade finally dropped that anchor.
This was no ordinary rant. The embattled manager kept going on and on for nearly three minutes and you can actually feel the ebb and flow of his blood pressure if you listen to the entire diatribe. What is forgotten in the entire hot mess of that interview is that Elia was actually protecting his players. As the team was walking off the field after the 4-3 loss to Los Angeles, a group of fans allegedly poured beer on Keith Moreland, Larry Bowa, and Ron Cey as they entered the left-field clubhouse.
Elia filled in the missing details when interviewed by Filip Bondy of the New York Times in 2016.
“We had lost to the Dodgers on [a] Lee Smith wild pitch,” Elia said. “In those days, we had to walk all the way down the left-field line to get into the locker room. As I’m walking with my paperwork after a tough loss, some fan gets all over Keith Moreland. Moreland goes toward the stands a foot or two, and security guards break it off.
“Then we walk another six or seven yards, where the tarp is,” Elia continued, “and someone says something to Larry Bowa. He jumps in there. There’s a lot of shoving. Then that’s finally broken up. I’ve got all this on my mind.”
The manager then allegedly challenged a couple of the fans to meet him on Michigan Avenue just before heading into his office, where he was greeted by members of the media. The rest is history.
Les Grobstein of WLS-AM 89 (at the time) captured the only audio recording of the rant, which has been legendary ever since.
Cubs News & Notes
- Our own Danny Rockett came up with a novel way of celebrating Elia.
- More scenarios to reboot the season emerge every day. The fact we’re even discussing games at Wrigley Field is a little dose of optimism as the weather starts to warm, trees and flowers are blossoming, and spring officially descends upon Chicago.
- Both the Cubs and the White Sox organizations reacted with a little hesitancy regarding Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s suggestions that baseball games could be played in Chicago this summer.
- Kyle Schwarber discussed his return to the team at the start of the 2016 World Series after missing nearly the entire season with a knee injury. Schwarber served as a DH and hit .412 in the Fall Classic, and his single started the winning rally in the 10th inning of Game 7.
- MLB.com revisited that final inning of the ’16 series, including the double by Ben Zobrist that ended a 108-year drought for the franchise.
- The baseball website also re-traced the trade tree that sent Gleyber Torres from the Cubs to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman in 2016.
Find Your Inner Hero
Eddie Vedder and the members of Pearl Jam never force themselves into the spotlight, but their social impact is nevertheless truly wonderful. We are entering unprecedented territory for the homeless, and that plight is going to become one of the more severe repercussions of the historical financial crisis projected for a post-pandemic America.
As part of the band’s Home Shows Initiative, over $10 million from 4,500 donors has been committed to fight homelessness in King County, Washington. I can’t speak for the band, but I’d bet a repeat of this 2018 benefit is already something that is under consideration. Every major metropolitan area should do something similar.
“Seattle is our hometown. When there are challenges here, we want to be part of the solution. It’s going to take all of us.” – Stone Gossard
Apropos of Nothing
The best storyline of a potential three-division league is the placement of the Dodgers and Astros in the MLB West. I will watch every single game and root for Los Angeles, something I never thought I’d ever say. Those games could be a ratings bonanza for the league, dwarfing even those tiresome Red Sox-Yankees tilts.
Odds & Sods
Sorry, Goose, but it’s time to buzz the tower.
Cockpit footage from the Blue Angels flight over New York City pic.twitter.com/feBIqgUTxA
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) April 28, 2020
MLB News & Notes
There is a lot to unpack here if and when more information becomes available, but MLB owners and players are discussing a plan to start the season in June with games played in home ballparks in front of no fans. The season would last 100 games with the league realigned into three 10-team divisions. If an agreement is reached between the owners and the MLBPA, it would still need the approval of medical experts, and includes the caveat that COVID-19 testing is available to the public.
How would you feel about expanding the postseason to include 16 teams if a shortened season is played?
You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to read a rebuttal of sorts from Ken Rosenthal, but he says patience should be the impetus of any restart to the season, if only because it gives the league more options.
Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini provided baseball fans with a health update in The Players’ Tribune yesterday. The 28-year-old had surgery on March 12 to remove a malignant tumor from his colon, and confirmed that he’s been undergoing chemotherapy treatments since April 13. Those treatments will continue for at least six months, though Macini believes they caught it early enough that he will be able to one day resume his career.
MLB has finally allowed teams to update their refund policies for fans holding tickets to canceled games.
In an interview with Mike Francesca of WFAN-NY, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal indicated that of the four major sports, MLB is the most desperate to get its season restarted.
The Pirates have suspended retirement contributions paid to its employees due to lost revenues.
Due to COVID-19, liver and other organ transplants are at a virtual standstill. Eager patients are hoping they will resume soon. I’m still on the list, and thankfully maintaining.
If you had to choose one of Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams as best player of the 1940’s, who would you choose? Both players missed the 1943-45 seasons due to military service and still put up insane decade-long numbers.
Re-watching Ken Burns Baseball yet again. In the 1941 recap, I looked up DiMaggio’s line during The Streak: he hit .408/.463/.717.
Ted Williams hit .406/.553/.735 over the entire season!
— Jason Collette (@jasoncollette) April 29, 2020
They Said It
- “All my life I’ve loved Chicago, and there were a lot of pluses because of day baseball. But [the outburst] is the thing I’ve lived with.” – Lee Elia
- “I have no doubt that, even when I’m doing chemo, I can work out and do some things. So, whenever the time comes for me to come back to baseball, I’ll be ready. But I just want to make sure that I am physically fine before I go out there and start trying to perform again at a major league level.” – Trey Mancini
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Better Man by Pearl Jam – This live version of one of my personal favorite songs by Eddie & the boys is your Wednesday smile.