The Greatest Rant In Sports History

Why do we love watching people get angry? Watching them lose their shit? Witnessing them meltdown, raise their voice, and finally express just how pissed off they really are?

For some reason, being there when someone else throws a fit of rage in a public fashion makes a lot of us happy. It’s an inverse effect. And this is especially apt in sports; we love watching sports figures rant and rave. Probably because they’re so composed most of the time, giving stock answers and blank stares, dodging questions in postgame interviews, toeing the company line, and avoiding anything resembling emotion. They desperately avoid telling us what they’re really thinking, and I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say most of them probably don’t even know why they do this. It’s just what they’ve been taught since sixth grade: feelings are bad, so don’t share them with the public. Most coaches/managers/owners preach this religiously, for they seem to think any shred of internal truth that’s shared with the public will surely sink the ship. They might be right; I don’t know. And I don’t really care.

The point is, when a sports figure goes off, we love it. It’s spontaneous and unintended, so we know we’re getting the genuine article. Most coaches don’t ever want to show emotion, so when they do, it’s clear they’re straying from the script. Which is awesome. We finally get to hear something real. What a day!

Coaches tend to be more well-spoken than players, plus they fear fewer repercussions – a coach can’t discipline himself, and I’ve yet to hear of one getting fired for a rant – so when they go off, they really get after it. And we celebrate the rant for years – ESPN will replay it constantly, and YouTube has itself another star. Everyone loves a classic coach rant. Denny Green made our week when he informed us the Bears were who they thought they were. Mike Singletary (re)won America’s heart with his impassioned plea for integrity. Jim Mora is just a weird little man. Mike Gundy had possibly the longest sustained streak of neck-vein bulging we’ve ever seen. Jim Calhoun verbally curb-stomped a reporter. And you could spend a month watching Bob Knight’s best stuff, and still probably not get through it all.

These men are the legends of the field, and for that I commend them. But none of these is the greatest coaching rant of all time. No my friends, that title belongs to short-lived and mostly unsuccessful Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia. Lee managed the Cubbies from 1982-1983, and did little of note from the dugout. But on April 29, 1983, after another loss which dropped his club to 5-14 on the year, he had had enough. Fans in the stands had been consistently booing and heckling the team, and Elia was not going to take it anymore. So in a postgame meeting with reporters, he went off like an atomic bomb. Unfortunately, being 1983, TV cameras did not exist, nor did fluorescent lights, indoor plumbing, or automobiles, I assume. Anyway, the rant was not recorded on video. But luckily for us, a shrewd ol’ dog named Les Grobstein got the audio on tape. Great work Les!

Now I give you the greatest rant in coaching history. Lock the doors, hide the children, turn down the volume if you’re at work, and find a room away from your parents if you’re 14 or younger – this clip is obscene. Like seriously, saying it contains offensive language is like saying New York City contains man-made structures. Lee was not one to mince words, and for this I love him. I don’t think censoring was invented yet, either, so if you’re offended by profanity, I’m going to need you to either develop a sense of humor or just leave.

(pause)

Still there? Great. I knew you wouldn’t bail after all that buildup. Without further ado:

Here it is.

Isn’t that great? He had absolutely no regard for tact or self-restraint; he didn’t care who heard him or what they thought. He even explicitly told the reporters to “print it!” Outstanding. The man just murders his own fans! The people that essentially pay his paycheck, but Lee Elia doesn’t care. Lee Elia doesn’t give a shit, he just does what he wants. What an outstanding display of keeping it real.

Lee Elia: the greatest rant in sports history. I’m giving him the title. See? The Cubs have won something in the last 100 years.

2 Comments

  1. Lois09-01-2011

    Could only listen to 1/2 of it, for obvious reasons. Was laughing the entire time. Might this have something to do with the fact that he managed the Cubs for only one season?
    Lo

  2. karl10-17-2011

    By my count (and yes I counted because this was awesome) he said fuckin’ 38 times; the phrase my fuckin ass (or something close to that) 5 times; shit 5 times; and ripped the dumb fuckin’ 15% who come to day games because they don’t have a fuckin’ job the entire time but more specifically 11 times. I can envision the spit flying from his mouth and the veins popping from his forehead right now.
    He clearly gives a shit.

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Sam Neumann | sam@samneumann.com | Boulder, CO