When Will Larry Bowa Realize Heâ€™s Not Bigger Than The Game?
Some say rules are made to be broken. Others say rules are rules. Most say two wrongs donâ€™t make a right. In Bowaâ€™s case, he thinks the rules donâ€™t apply… but do many wrongs make a right?
With two on and two out in a 0-0 game in the sixth inning, Larry Bowa decided this crucial moment in the game was the time to test Ed Montague. The third base umpire had warned Bowa numerous times about staying within the designated box that third-base coaches are now required to stand in thanks to one of the new rules instituted in the off-season to keep on-field coaches safe.
Montague delivered on his promise to Bowa and tossed him from the game. In typical Bowa fashion, he overreacted and it took manager Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer to restrain him. Schaefer practically had to wrestle Bowa to the ground by grabbing him by the jersey to keep him from the third base umpire. Somehow, the warning Bowa received one inning earlier didnâ€™t register and, in a critical moment in the game, Bowa got himself ejected.
His reaction â€“ which including dumping a cooler full of Gatorade on the dugout floor â€“ was not just one of anger but of shock. I guess Bowaâ€™s memory was too short to remember an inning ago. In addition, it was childish but it did give Torre and Schaefer an opportunity to play mom and dad.
After the game, Bowa unleashed a profanity-laced tirade. He declared it â€œimpossible to coach third and stay in the box with a runner at second.â€ The league handed down a mandatory three-game suspension the next day and fined Bowa for â€œhis inappropriate and aggressive conduct, which included making contactâ€ with Montague, according to the MLBâ€™s press release. Apparently, Bowa didnâ€™t get the memo. â€œFor getting kicked out of the game, you get a three-game suspension. Itâ€™s totally uncalled for. I have no idea why,â€ said Bowa on Wednesday. â€œI got a fine, which I expected. But I donâ€™t even know what the fine is, to be honest with you.â€ Maybe someone can run back the footage for Bowa; maybe heâ€™ll get it then.
Whatâ€™s more ridiculous are some of Bowaâ€™s excuses. Bob Watson is â€œprejudicedâ€ against him. â€œHe wants to get me any way he can get me,â€ commented Bowa. He also cried foul because while he was getting suspended, thereâ€™s â€œguys who tested positive for steroids and admitted they took them â€“ no suspensions. Theyâ€™re still playing,â€ he said in a comment designed to strengthen his defense for attempted assault of an umpire doing his job.
Bowaâ€™s beef is with the new rules. First, his problem is with the helmet that on-field coaches are now required to wear. Baseball responsibly but possibly unnecessarily reacted to Mike Coolbaughâ€™s death after being struck with a line drive during a minor league game while coaching first base by mandating all first and third base coaches wear helmets. Does Bowaâ€™s argument against the helmets have merit? Hereâ€™s his point-by-point argument:
Â· Heâ€™s been in the league 40 years and he doesnâ€™t think the league should be able to tell him who wears a helmet and who doesnâ€™t.
Â· Bats break and they can be a deadly weapon. Do something about bats.
Â· Umpires get hit with line drives. They should have to wear helmets if coaches do.
Â· There should be a grandfather clause and he should be able to sign a waiver.
Â· If his helmet falls off, the game will have to stop and this will cause a frequent delay of the game.
Â· Theyâ€™re uncomfortable.
In addition, Bowa isnâ€™t happy with the rule that requires him to stay within the confines of the coachesâ€™ box when the ball is not in play. He contends that it makes it difficult for him to do his job because he cannot properly position himself for the runner to see him. (Note that after the ball is put into play, the third-base coach is free to move into a different position along the line.) And, get this; he feels that it is dangerous. The logic is astounding.
But why would anyone expect logic from a 62-year-old man who had to be physically removed from the field and decided to attack a defenseless Gatorade cooler? Why would anyone expect logic from someone who chooses a crucial point in the game to take a further stand against a rule he disagrees with.
Amazingly, the game went on without Bowa. First base coach Mariano Duncan took over for his oppressed counterpart. Despite the helmet hardships and the coachesâ€™ box confinement, Duncan made a great decision in the ninth inning to send Rafael Furcal on an infield hit by Delwyn Young and Furcal beat Rich Aurilliaâ€™s throw home for the win. Somehow, Duncan did Bowa’s job despite the harrowing conditions.
So far, most sports writers have credited Bowa with being spunky and uninhibited. Dodger fans cheered him as he threw his temper tantrum. In the end, shouldnâ€™t we be disgusted with his behavior and put the focus on the despicable behavior of a man who should be mature enough to handle himself more professionally?Â My guess is that Bob Watson doesnâ€™t have a grudge against Bowa but Iâ€™m sure heâ€™s on his radar. Can you blame Watson though? If Watson were the principal, Bowa would be the kid always called to the principalâ€™s office. Bowaâ€™s biggest argument is that heâ€™s spent 40 years in the league and his experience should entitle him a say in whether or not he needs protection on the field. You would think that after 40 years of experience, heâ€™d be able to put aside his personal causes for the good of the team. At the very least, youâ€™d think heâ€™d be able to maintain his composure enough to not attack another human being. And if those two things are too much to ask, at the very, very least, you’d think he’d understand why his behavior was wrong.
Some Other â€œHighlightsâ€ Of Bowaâ€™s Temper (And Itâ€™s Not Even A Complete List!)
May 8, 1971 â€“ As a Phillie, Bowa was ejected in the fifth inning after a close play at first base on a bunt. He threw his sunglasses on the field from the dugout after the ejection. The ejection cost him a chance to extend a nine-game hitting streak.
June 27, 1972 â€“ Bowa smashed three light bulbs in the dugout runway after going 0-for-4 against the Cubs.
April 28, 1976 â€“ Bowa disagreed with a called strike by umpire Jim Quick. On the next pitch, Bowa grounded out. On his way to the dugout, he shouted at Quick and was ejected. He exploded from the dugout to further the argument and bumped Quick. Bowa was suspended for 3 games and fined $350.
May 13, 1980 â€“ Bowa became the first Phillie ejected in the 1980 season after an argument with home plate umpire Steve Fields over a strike call.
August 24, 1981 â€“ Manager Dallas Green and Bowa were ejected by third base umpire Steve Fields after both player and manager bumped him during an argument. Green was fined $1000 and suspended for 5 games while Bowa was fined $500.
June 5, 1982 â€“ In his first season with the Cubs, Bowa destroyed a Wrigley dugout toilet and smashed several light bulbs in the dugout runway after grounding into a double play.
July 31, 1983 â€“ Bowa ripped an official scorer after a game in Philadelphia after he failed to credit him with a stolen base when the catcher made no throw to second on his steal attempt. The former Phillie accused the scorer of â€œtrying to be cuteâ€ because he used to play there.
May 1987 â€“ During his first season as a major league manager, Bowaâ€™s Padres struggled. Tony Gwynn was asked his thoughts. Gwynn said, â€œI donâ€™t know. I just stand in the clubhouse, back into my locker stall and watch the manager scream.â€
March 15, 1988 â€“ During a spring training game with Seattle, Bowa was ejected for disputing a balk. Bowa later commented that he didnâ€™t like the changes made to the balk rule in the off-season.
July 28, 1989 â€“ Bowa, now a third base coach with the Phillies, was ejected by Steve Rippley after poking him in the mouth during an argument.
May 2001 â€“ In his first season as Phillies manager, Bowa was asked to comment on the new zero tolerance rule on knockdown pitches. â€œPeople know when youâ€™re throwing at somebody, believe me. We donâ€™t need an umpire to say that it was intentional.â€ His solution? If a guy on his team was hit on purpose, â€œyou took care of it.â€
July 14, 2001 â€“ Bowa was ejected by umpire Dan Iassogna after arguing balls and strikes. Iassogna said Bowa bumped him but Bowa denied it.
May 7, 2002 â€“ Bowa was ejected for disputing a call at home plate. Bob Watson handed down a fine and a three game suspension. The punishment was for â€œarguing excessively and making inappropriate comments.â€ Bowa ripped Watson after the suspension. â€œI think itâ€™s a joke. Bob Watson is a former player, too. Iâ€™d be embarrassed if I were him. He has a vendetta against me and I donâ€™t know why. I could care less about Bob Watson.â€
March 26, 2003 â€“ During a spring training game, Bowa was ejected after yelling at Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay which led to both benches emptying. Bowa was upset after both teams were warned when Rheal Cormier threw two inside pitches to Halladay after Halladay hit Jim Thome with a pitch in the third inning. Bowa had to be restrained by several people.
June 19, 2003 â€“ In the ninth inning of a one-run game, Bowa was tossed after he felt Jose Mesaâ€™s 1-2 pitch was a strike. Bowa threw his hat down several times, kicked dirt on the plate and had to be physically removed from the field by bench coach Gary Varsho and first base umpire Charlie Reliford. After the game, Bowa accused the umpires of calling strikes for the Braves that were not strikes for the Phillies.
July 7, 2003 â€“ Bowa was ejected for the second time in four days after benches cleared when Brandon Duckworth hit opposing pitcher Livan Hernandez against the Expos. Bowa was upset with umpire Bill Welkeâ€™s decision not to eject Hernandez when he screamed at Duckworth and began walking toward the mound.
August 2003 â€“ After being designated for assignment, Tyler Houston commented about Bowa, â€œEverybody feels the same way about (Bowa). He doesnâ€™t give a crap about anybody in there. He doesnâ€™t give a crap about his players. He only cares about himself. You see it in the negativity and disrespect that he has for his players, the way he speaks to his players. Heâ€™s the first one to slam you, embarrass you, throw stuff in the dugout, throw his hands up in the air. Iâ€™ve read that the team is winning because of (Bowaâ€™s) meeting. Itâ€™s not winning because of (his) meeting, itâ€™s winning because of the playerâ€™s meeting.â€ Bowa responded a few days later by calling Houston a â€œloser.â€ He suggested reporters ask Jim Thome if the playerâ€™s like their manager but Thome refused to comment.
April 1, 2004 â€“ During another spring training game with the Blue Jays, Bowa was ejected after Ryan Madson threw behind Frank Catalanatto in retaliation for an earlier incident where Philliesâ€™ catcher Shawn Wooten was plunked by Miguel Batista. He was suspended for one game.
July 9, 2004 â€“ Bowa was ejected after disputing a home run call in a game against the Braves. Bowa initially argued the call and returned to the dugout but continued to badger umpire Bruce Dreckman who tossed him after the next batter lined out. After being ejected, he got nose-to-nose with Dreckman, threw his hat down and gestured several times. It was Bowaâ€™s fourth ejection of the season and #21 of his four seasons with the Phillies. Bowa would be ejected one more time before being fired at the end of the season.