It’s fun to watch the many editions of the “SportsCentre Top 10” that show up on YouTube etc., some of which have baseball action removed by the uploaders to avoid a copyright strike by MLB, but some of the best SC Top 10s, often narrated by veteran TSN host Rod Smith, are those containing players, coaches, managers etc. going absolutely nuts for one reason or another. In today’s TTINPO (Top Ten, In No Particular Order), I present ten of my favourite sports meltdowns. NOTE: some of the video clips here contain profanities/offensive language – viewer discretion is advised.
- “Have another donut!” (1988)
On May 6th, 1988, the New Jersey Devils lost to the Bruins 6-1 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After the game, Devils head coach Jim Schoenfeld squared off with referee Don Koharski – this was back when NHL games had only one ref and two linesmen, and not the current two-and-two. Schoenfeld and Koharski continued to argue, with a photog from New York ABC flagship WABC-TV rolling tape the whole time, followed by the coach’s now-classic lines. Shortly after the incident, TSN got a copy of WABC’s “exclusive” video footage and broadcast it, uncensored!
Speaking of the Koharskis…
- Jim Playfair vs. Jamie Koharski (2010)
On March 27th, 2010, the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat hosted the Hamilton Bulldogs. When the Heat’s J.D. Watt was handed five-and-a-game for charging, after running into Hamilton’s Cedrick Desjardins, Abbotsford head coach Jim Playfair absolutely blew a gasket, and then some. Playfair completely lost it on referee Jamie Koharski, Don’s son, and smashed several sticks and ripped his jacket off before getting tossed from the game and fined an undisclosed amount. Video of Playfair’s meltdown almost immediately went viral, and that video from the Heat’s official YouTube channel is still online today.
- Belcher blows up at Yankee Stadium (1995)
In Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS versus the Yankees, Seattle Mariners pitcher Tim Belcher gave up a game-winning homer to NYY’s Jim Leyritz, and immediately after, while in the stadium tunnel, Belcher was absolutely livid. He repeatedly hurled his glove against the wall, then noticed a group of TV cameramen, including at least one from a Seattle station, watching him starting to boil over. Belcher marched up to them, and unleashed this expletive-laden explosion on them before pulling one photog’s camera off of his shoulder.
- Hal McRae vs. the media (1993)
Following a 5-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals’ record dropped to 7-12, not looking good for the team, or Royals manager Hal McRae. During the post-game presser in McRae’s office, a reporter asked a question that caused McRae to fly off the handle, dropping numerous profanities and throwing stuff off of his desk, including a telephone, twirled and hurled by McRae, hitting a reporter in the face and giving said reporter a rather large bloody gash on his right cheek.
- Tony La Russa vs. an AP reporter (1991)
June 2nd, 1991, A’s at White Sox. With Oakland at bat late in the game, Athletics catcher Terry Steinbach was at the plate, and an errant pitch from the Sox’ Bobby Thigpen got Steinbach square in the side of his head, knocking him to the ground, and after a couple of minutes, Steinbach had to be taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to a Chicago hospital. A’s manager Tony La Russa understandably was furious about the incident, but in the post-game presser, a question from Associated Press reporter Bob Glass sent La Russa off the deep end.
With this video clip, I wasn’t able to embed like the other clips included in this post, likely because of the back-to-back dash and underscore in the URL, so click here to check it out.
- Bryan Murray vs. Lindy Ruff (2007)
February 22nd, 2007, Ottawa at Buffalo. A massive on-ice brawl broke out after Senators enforcer Chris Neil blindsided the Sabres’ Chris Drury in the Ottawa zone. Even the goalies, Ray Emery (OTT) and Marty Biron (BUF) got into it, and Emery, the fighter that he was, loved every minute of it, judging by the huge grin on his face. Next, the coaches got into it – Sens bench boss Bryan Murray climbed up onto the boards, shouting and pointing fingers at the Sabres’ Lindy Ruff, and in between the clashing coaches, who else but Buffalo’s GOAT of fights, Rob Ray, commentator for the Sabres TV coverage on MSG. Here’s how it all went down, through the lenses of the Sportsnet cameras.
- “You are a LIAR, Earl!” (1980)
September 17th, 1980, Tigers at Orioles. The first base umpire for this game, Bill Haller, was “mic’d up” for a TV documentary about major league umps. Right after the game began, Haller called Baltimore P Mike Flanagan, and Orioles manager Earl Weaver immediately unloaded on Haller, the whole thing recorded on tape, clear as day.
- Cujo vs. McGeough (2000)
April 17th, 2000, Leafs at Sens in Game 3 of a first round playoff series. In the third period at the
Palladium Scotiabank Place Canadian Tire CentreCorel Centre, Ottawa’s Rob Zamuner scored his second goal of the game, and when Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph turned and saw referee Mick McGeough signalling a goal, Cujo chucked his stick, then slammed his fists on the top of his net before dropping the gloves and racing toward McGeough – but before Joseph could potentially land a punch on the long-time NHL ref, he somehow slipped and landed flat on his arse, and took McGeough down with him. Cujo repeatedly insisted that he had been interfered with by Senators great Daniel Alfredsson, who was in Joseph’s crease, battling D Cory Cross. Hockey Night In Canada legend Bob Cole had the call that night, and as for Cujo’s goalie interference argument, you be the judge.
- Any Lou Piniella meltdown
I think Jim Rome said it best in the early 2000s when he said, “How Lou Piniella did not have a heart attack or a brain aneurysm is a miracle.” Almost nothing better than witnessing “Sweet Lou” completely lose his mind, and even better is this eight-minute compilation of Piniella’s best flip-outs, including pure gold at 7:23 in this comp.
- Dennis Rodman vs. a courtside cameraman (1997)
January 15th, 1997, Bulls at Timberwolves. After falling out of bounds, Chicago’s controversial Dennis Rodman noticed television camera operator Eugene Amos pointing his Ikegami Unicam camera straight at Rodman, who then kicked Amos in the groin. The photog was taken to hospital, but although Rodman wasn’t handed a technical foul, what happened after the incident cost him about $1 million. Rodman and Amos settled out-of-court for $200,000, the NBA fined him $25,000 and suspended him for eleven games, and NBA Commissioner David Stern reportedly ordered Rodman to undergo counselling.
Honourable mentions go to the Indiana Hoosiers’ Bobby Knight and his chair toss in the ’80s; Robbie Ftorek heaving a bench onto the ice in 2000; Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi at the 2006 FIFA World Cup; and likely a good chunk of John Tortorella moments.
What’s your all-time favourite sports meltdown? Sign in with your BMacBroadcast.ca account and share your fave(s) in a comment below!