Monday, April 29, 2013

NSFW: An Epic Rant Turns 30



The 1983 Chicago Cubs were a much better baseball team than their 71-91 record suggested. The team was one year away from doing the unthinkable: Winning the National League East, making the playoffs for the first time since 1945, and coming just a few innings shy of winning the National League pennant. Indeed, the 1983 roster included many of the players who’d go on to unexpected glory the following year: Ryne Sandberg, Larry Bowa, and Ron Cey in the infield; Leon Durham in left (who’d later play first base after Bill Buckner was jettisoned); Keith Moreland in right; Jody Davis behind the plate; and pitchers Steve Trout, Warren Brusstar, and Lee Smith, who might have been the best closer of his day. The ’83 Cubs even brought back Fergie Jenkins, the pride of Chatham, Ontario, to close out his storied career.
Unfortunately, thirty years ago the denizens of Wrigley Field’s bleachers didn’t realize the team was on verge of greatness. They were impatient. And they were drunken slobs.
And so it was that on April 29, 1983, after a tough one-run loss to the Dodgers dropped the team to 5-14, Cubs manager Lee Elia went on what undoubtedly is the single greatest rant in the history of sport, laying into Cubs fans with the deadliest barrage of f-bombs I’ve ever heard. It was a thing of beauty. This, friends, is the definition of NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Enjoy:


I’ll tell you one fuckin’ thing, I hope we get fuckin’ hotter than shit, just to stuff it up them 3,000 fuckin’ people that show up every fuckin’ day. Because if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans, they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT!
They’re really, really behind you around here ... my fuckin’ ass.
What the ... what the fuck am I supposed to do, go out there and let my fuckin’ players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the fuckin’ nickel-dime people that show up? The motherfuckers don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the fuckin’ game. They oughta go out and get a fuckin’ job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a fuckin’ living.
Eighty-five percent of the fuckin’ world's working. The other fifteen come out here. A fuckin’ playground for the cocksuckers.
Rip them motherfuckers ... rip them fuckin’ cocksuckers like the fuckin’ players. We got guys bustin’ their fuckin’ ass, and them fuckin’ people boo. And that’s the Cubs? My fuckin’ ass. They talk about the great fuckin’ support that the players get around here. I haven’t seen it this fuckin’ year....
The name of the game is hit the ball, catch the ball, and get the fuckin’ job done. Right now, we have more losses than we have wins. The fuckin’ changes that have happened in the Cub organization are multi-fold. All right, they don’t show because we’re 5 and 14. And ... unfortunately, that’s the criteria of them dumb 15 motherfuckin’ percent that come out to day baseball. The other 85 percent are earning a living.
It’ll take more than a 5 and 13 or 5 and 14 to destroy the makeup of this club. ... I guarantee you that. There’s some fuckin’ pros out there that wanna fuckin’ play this game. But you’re stuck in a fuckin’ stigma of the fuckin’ Dodgers and the Phillies and the Cardinals and all that cheap shit.
All these motherfuckin’ editorials about Cey and fuckin’ ... ah ... the Phillie-itis and all that shit, it’s... it’s sickening. It’s unbelievable. It really is. It’s a disheartening fuckin’ situation we’re in right now. 5 and 14 doesn’t negate all that work.
We got 143 fuckin’ games left. What I’m tryin’ to say is don’t rip them fuckin’ guys out there. Rip me! If you wanna rip somebody, rip my fuckin’ ass, but don’t rip them fuckin’ guys, ’cause they’re givin’ everything they can give.
And once we hit that fuckin’ groove, it’ll flow. And it will flow, the talent’s there. I don’t know how to make it any clearer to you. I’m frustrated, I ... I’ll guarantee I’m frustrated. It be different if I walked into this room everyday at 8:30 and saw a bunch of guys that didn’t give a shit. They give a shit. And it’s a tough National League East.
It’s a tough National League, period.
Let me tell you something. I was in college in the early 1980s and I spent many a summer afternoon in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, that ivy-walled cathedral to baseball futility, so I can tell you will absolute certainty that every word of Lee Elia’s rant was true. Every. Word.
Still, the justness of his cause did not save him. The Cubs fired Elia on August 21, 1983, 123 games into the season, with a 54-69 record. And so he was not around to see his prediction come true the next year.
But here’s the interesting thing about Lee Elia. He’s much better known as the guy who lost his shit than the guy who rightly defended a very good baseball team that was having a very bad year. He’s known as the guy who lost his temper, rather than the guy who understood that his team was really close to achieving something that no Cubs team had achieved in nearly 40 years. He’s known as the guy who berated fans rather than a guy who defended his players against unfair criticism.
And that says something about us. Not about us Chicagoans, specifically, or us Cub fans, because what happened to Lee Elia – the ignominy he suffered for losing his cool – could have happened anywhere. No, it says something about us as Americans. We can act like complete jackasses, but if you call us on it … if, god forbid, you get angry when people abuse you … then you’re the bad guy. You’re just supposed to take other people’s jackassery, because if you actually say something about it, why, that’s rude. It’s always the person who speaks up who’s the bad guy, never the person acting like a complete jackass in the first place. That’s the way we Americans are. We want to be jerks, but suffer no consequences for it. So, we punish you if you speak up.
But me, I’m kind of like Lee Elia. You want to act like a jerk and expect me to say nothing? I say: My fuckin’ ass!

1 comment:

  1. Eggzackly.

    I've rooted for a lot of losing teams over the years--all of them in Boston. Yeah, they've won the odd Stanley Cup, World Series, NBA title or Super Bowl but the total (I think it's maybe 30--mostly NBA) tells you nothing about the teams or the personnel.

    I've been told by a lot of people (a very large number of them are Yankme's fans) that people root for the Cubs because they, the fans, are LOOZERS. Obvious bullshit, but these same folks say "my team" and I remind them of the comment by a sports writer (I forget who) that went something like, "If you don't get a paycheck, it's not YOUR team; it's the team you root for. You're a fan.".


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