It brings me a deep and uncomplicated joy when Jim Leyland flips out. Let’s take a look at the whole story, from sort-of start to fabulous finish.
First, there was an article. It was pretty silly.
“It’s so relaxed in here,” says Sheffield, who is hitting .189 with two home runs and eight RBI as he struggles with right shoulder pain. “I don’t know if that means that we don’t have a killer instinct or we’re just a real loose team. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Sheffield looks around the clubhouse. It is two hours before game time against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and video is being shown of Dan Haren, the opposing pitcher.
No one is watching.
Cabrera, who had never faced Haren, is asleep in a chair. Magglio Ordonez has his back turned to the TV and is reading a magazine. A handful are playing cards.
Detroit lost 4-3, with Ordonez getting three of the six hits. The loss provided a snapshot of the year.
Bob Nightengale/USA Today article
Let me just start by saying that this is a TERRIBLE example game to use and I have no idea why this particular game was chosen. The set-up you see in the quote here is a clubhouse full of hitters who are not watching tape of the starting pitcher. You expect the game to be lost because of poor offense, yes?
That happened… sort of. Dan Haren is a good pitcher. He held the Tigers to 3 runs. Dan Haren’s ERA went UP after this game. The Tigers lost because of errors and Zach Miner’s inability to hold Bondo’s line. This has very little to do with guys watching or not watching tape of Dan Haren. I just needed to point that out.
I don’t want to pick on Sheff specifically. I really, really don’t. A lot of guys on this team were scuffling and, although Sheff is definitely one of the problems, what with his magically un-DL-able busted body and his sub-.200-batting average and all, he is also definitely not the only problem. But then he WENT AND CALLED OUT THE TEAM for being too… I don’t even know. Sedate? Un-gritty (smooth)? Lackadaisical (odds on a pro ballplayer ever using this word in an interview: not good)?
I get that Gary is probably doing a lot of extra BP and a lot of extra prep work before games to try to combat the mighty suck that has enveloped his personal bat of late. At least, I assume that he is doing this, because he seems shocked that other people are not. But if it is not working for him, maybe he should, you know, wait until he has a leg to stand on before deriding everyone else’s pregame work?
I love the way that was written, too. Gary Sheffield gazes around the clubhouse. People are NAPPING. People are PLAYING CARDS. You, the reader, are invited to view this scene through Gary Sheffield’s eyes, with all the disdain and horror that implies. Artful, really.
And then, of course, it’s Magglio Ordonez, he of the listless magazine reading, who went and got most of the team’s hits against Dan Haren. Dan Haren, who is having a pretty freaking awesometastical season. How dare Maggs not watch more tape if he’s only going to get 3 hits off a quality starter??? That CAD!
The article got even better when someone had the bright idea of interviewing Jason Grilli.
“It seems like they kind of broke up our team chemistry when they got rid of Sean Casey and good people like that,” says Grilli, now with the Colorado Rockies. “You wanted guys like that around. You wanted a guy like Inge playing behind you, knowing he would go through a brick wall.
“Talent-wise on paper, that is one of the greatest teams assembled, but the atmosphere was stale and stagnant. You kept losing, losing and losing, and everybody became distant. I have good friends over there, and I feel badly for them.”
Bob Nightengale/USA Today article
Not to put too fine a point on this, but LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL.
Ohhhh Grilli. I mean, I assume this wasn’t freely volunteered. I assume he was questioned about this, and only said these things in response to that direct questioning. I assume the same thing happened with Sheff. In that sense, it’s not really their fault. They’re just being honest. But, as with Sheff, maybe Grilli should have waited until he had a solid leg to stand on before bagging on the rest of the team, y’know?
Also, if getting rid of Sean Casey was enough to send the Tigers into a depressive spiral of woe and losing, this team has problems that no simple change is going to be able to fix. C’mon. Weren’t Tigers saying THE EXACT SAME THINGS when The Farns got traded? This statement is ridiculous on so many levels. It’s not surprising that a ballplayer spouted it, this is what they do, but the fact that so many people are taking the sentiments behind it seriously kinda blows my mind.
For the sake of your sanity and mine, we will move on from the silly article to Mr. Leyland’s response. The interview is up on 97.1 FM and can be downloaded as an MP3 using this link. I HIGHLY suggest you do so. The mere written words, lacking the punch of Leyland’s voice, do not do the rant justice. I think we all owe 97.1 some sincere thanks for getting this thing online for us, because it is truly epic.
This is all Jim Leyland talking, except where otherwise noted. If I couldn’t figure out what he was saying (most of the bleeps are obvious, but a few aren’t), I noted that in brackets too.
And I really take offense to Jason Grilli’s thing about, uh, we lost Sean Casey… you gotta be f**kin’ kidding me. We lost Sean Casey?… Jason Grilli oughta just worry about Colorado. Jason Grilli’s not here any longer because Jason Grilli didn’t pitch good under pressure situations, he didn’t pitch very well in Detroit.
Now, you wanna tell it like it is, and players wanna start talkin’, I’ll start talkin’, and I’m very reserved about stuff like that.
Jason Grilli, Jason Grilli oughta worry about Colorado. Not Detroit.
…Don’t misunderstand one thing, I miss Sean Casey. But Sean Casey has nothing to do with the fact that the Tigers are where we’re at. Now let’s get that f**kin’ straight right now.
Jason Grilli should not have roused the wrath of Jim Leyland.
If people wanna start talkin’ about things and this and that and what this guy’s doing and what that guy’s doing, they should look in the mirror… [With] what some of these guys are doing on this club, they should, the last thing they should be doing is poppin’ off to the newspaper. ‘Cause it’s diversionary tactics and they look foolish. Now you can quote every bit of that.
There’s nothing wrong with, inside the clubhouse. The problem here is in between the lines. But everybody looks for an excuse…. and to me that’s a weak excuse. Look in the mirror.
You know if you don’t like what’s goin’ on in the clubhouse, and you’re a player, then say somethin’ about it. Put a name to it. I read some stuff today, oh, we did this, we did that, now we’re not doing this and that, well put a name to it. That’s all. Stick your chest out, put a name to it. You can quote me on that. Put a name to it.
This is where Leyland starts to threaten his own players. Having seen the previous article, I believe we may all be sure that he was at least part of the time referring to Gary Sheffield.
Players wanna play games with the press, I’ll play games with the press. And it won’t be very pretty. That’s [long bleep]. Trust me when I tell you that, that’s all [possibly bulls**t?], it doesn’t have anything to do with a guy hanging a slider or missing a fastball right down the cock or throwin’ a ball away… doesn’t have nothing to do with it.
That’s a weak excuse. That’s a lame excuse. “It wasn’t fair for people to have expectations,” why wasn’t it fair? The f**k you talking about it wasn’t fair? We’re supposed to have loved the expectations. We’re saying it wasn’t fair to have expectations? What, what the f**k are you talking about?
I’m a f**king grown man… I can take my heat, and I deserve some, for the performance of this club. But if you… you better be careful when you’re a player… you’re f**kin’ hittin’ .200, .220 and strikin’ out and strikin’ out and hittin’ .200 and .215 and .2… you shouldn’t be poppin’ off. In my opinion…. You oughta be takin’ care of your own s**t.
The bit about expectations is apparently in response to something Carlos Guillen said about expectations being too high. Carlos also should not have tempted the wrath of Jim Leyland.
I do love how he throws the “in my opinion” in there. Gotta be careful to qualify all these statements, dontcha know!
They wanna play games, I’ll play games, and it won’t be long, I’ll put f**king names to it, if they want me to. I’m not quite to that point yet. Wanna play f**king games, I’ll play games, I’ll quit protectin’ some of these guys night after night after night after night, and I’ll put some f**kin’ names.
Perhaps a reference to the mystery of Sheff remaining off the DL? A dig at Brandon Inge? Who knows! But we LOVE IT.
This is where the bleeping picks up significantly.
[reporter asks, “What kind of effect can that have?]
I don’t give a f**k… People start makin’ weak excuses in the f**kin’ newspaper, diversionary tactics and s**t, that rubs me wrong. I don’t give a f**k what effect it has. It can’t have a bad effect ’cause we’ve been as horses**t as you can be, so it can’t hurt.
I’m not lookin’ for problems here but I’m a f**kin’ man, I look in the mirror, when I’m horses**t I’m horses**t and right now I’m horses**t and there’s a few f**kers in that clubhouse right now that are horses**t too, and they need to look in that mirror. Don’t look in mine, look in theirs. And don’t look at the f**kin’ guy next to ’em, look in the f**kin’ mirror yourself. Don’t be pointin’ f**kin’ fingers over here and there… that’s all weak s**t, really [bleep], some of the other s**t I read in the paper today, that’s weak f**kin’ s**t. WEAK.
Jim Leyland: not a fan of horses**t.
[reporter asks what Grilli even means when he says the atmosphere is ‘stagnant’]
Well we’re stagnant between the lines. The clubhouse hasn’t changed a f**kin’ bit. We come to the clubhouse, we do everything we’ve always done in the clubhouse, sit in the [something?] room, bulls**t with each other, we f**kin’ walk around, do whatever the f**k they do, they look at film, they look at tape, they hit extra, they do the same thing they’ve always done.
Grilli should worry about Colorado. And if Jason Grilli’d done a better job, he’d still be here. So I don’t wanna hear any weak s**t from Jason Grilli right now either, because he belongs to somebody else. My concern is the guys out here that are talkin’ weak s**t…. Weak s**t. Look in the mirror. Look at the f**kin’ numbers. You’re worried about the f**kin’… clubhouse?
“I don’t wanna hear any weak s**t from Jason Grilli,” is one of my new favorite quotes of all time. So pithy. So earthy. So perfect.
As if all this is not awesome enough, Leyland ends the interview on a high note, by drawing a fun comparison between his own situation and that of Tigers writer Jason Beck.
What d’you think, Beck?
[reporters nervously laugh]
You write a f**kin’ horses**t story, you don’t blame [Detroit Free Press writer] John Lowe, do you?
[reporters crack the hell up]
What was the ultimate result of all this glorious insanity? The Tigers hit well tonight, including a 4-for-4, 5 RBI day for Edgah (who is obviously feeling the power of the high socks). Verlander pitched well, if laboriously (100+ pitches in 6 innings). The bullpen blew kibble chunks, but for once we had enough offense on the board to buffer against that.
A spirited response to fiery curse words from the manager? Relief at being back in Detroit? General WEAKITUDE on the part of Mariners pitcher? Too early to tell. We shall have to wait and see if it sticks.
Gary Sheffield, for whatever it’s worth, was 0-for-5. Maybe he should have picked up a magazine before the game.