Lou Piniella

June 7, 2007

Tantrum 1:

I was a real tantrum-thrower as a kid. My most public tantrum came at the end of a little league game. We were playing the Twins, one of the two or three teams in the league we had a chance to beat, and were leading by three runs in the bottom of the last inning. They loaded the bases for their best hitter, a short, stocky kid named Tom Soule.

My mom was watching the game from the metal bleachers behind our dugout. I was playing third base. Tom Soule swung and sent the ball sailing.

 “It was such a nice moment watching little Tommy Soule bounce around the bases with a big smile on his face,” my mom told me afterward. “Then I look up and see you. Kicking your glove across the field. Swearing. Crying. It was awful.”

My punishment was going to be that I’d have to miss my next game, but no doubt because punishments were pretty foreign to my hippie-influenced family this never came to pass. I think Mom just had me stack firewood instead, which I would have had to do anyway. Usually when I stacked firewood there was a Red Sox game on the radio, so it was actually a decent way to pass the time.

Tantrum 2:

My most elaborate tantrum also was little-league related. In Vermont, winter never ends. This is how it feels when you’re an 11-year-old kid getting angrier and angrier as each new April snowstorm cancels another stab by your team to have their first practice. Finally when yet another sleet- and snowstorm cancelled practice I decided that the only thing there was to do was go try to get in a fistfight with the weather. I put on a thin windbreaker over a T-shirt—probably what I’d been planning to wear to practice—and set out into the howling storm. Having already watched too much television in my life, I imagined with some intensity the following scene centering on my departure: as I was about to exit the house some parental figure would ask me where I was going.

Out,” I planned to say, toughly, before opening the door and slamming it behind me.

But nobody asked me anything, or even noticed I was about to go Ahab it up a little against the northern New England squall, so I just left. I ended up walking 8 miles in my sneakers through sleet and snow, all the way up the winding dirt road from East Randolph to Randolph Center. My friend Glenn lived in Randolph Center, so I went there and called home. My grandfather, who happened to be visiting, came and picked me up, unsure what to make of me.

“Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” he murmured.

By then my anger had kind of receded behind the encroaching hypothermia.

Tantrum 3:

Just yesterday, in my cubicle, I was having great difficulty figuring out how to change the color of the text in these tiny text boxes we use to signal edits in a PDF document. This is the kind of thing that really gets to me these days, the conundrums that make me feel like I’m a stranger in a strange land, and that it’s only going to get worse as I get older and less able to adapt to the constant technological “upgrades” all around me. I hate upgrades. I loathe them. Soon death itself will be referred to as an upgrade, for isn’t an upgrade a wiping away of one world in favor of a whole new world with no memory of the old? Anyway, that’s not really what gets me wound up in those moments. It’s the feeling of helplessness and stupidity. So instead of calmly trying to figure out a solution to a problem, I throw a quiet masochistic tantrum.

So yesterday if you happened to be in my sector of the corporate headquarters where my name hangs on a cubicle you would have seen a 39-year-old man pulling his hair and punching himself in the head. Well, you probably wouldn’t have seen this, because whenever I am about to deliver blows to my head I take a quick look to see that no one is within witnessing range of my cubicle. But maybe there are hidden security cameras.


  1. 1.  i like this site about lou


  2. 2.  Thanks for the link, dsb80. Looks like there’s some audio, which I can’t listen to right now, but I will later. The photo makes me chuckle, just as his tantrum did the other day, when I happened to turn on the game right as he was storming out of the dugout.

    Some thoughts on Lou the player:

    He pretty much personified to me the reason the Yankees had always beaten the Red Sox up to and including my childhood years in the late ’70s. I studied the baseball encyclopedia in those days, looking for reasons why the Yankees always won, and it always seemed to come down to depth. When both teams were good (as in the late ’40s/early ’50s and late ’70s, the Red Sox had more stars, and the Yankees had a greater number of effective pitchers and hitters. Piniella couldn’t have cracked the Red Sox lineup, yet with the Yankees he was part of a team that came at you in waves. It makes sense that the Yankees came back in ’78–they had the bodies to lay seige to the Sox when the thin Sox started going down with injuries. I think of Piniella most of all during that ’78 playoff game–his brilliant bluff that he had a bead on a ball he’d actually lost in the sun saved the game for the Yankees. God, how I hated him.

  3. 3.  I’m not sure why, it really makes no sense, but I liked Lou even though I was a Boston fan. IIRC, during his last game at Fenway, the Red Sox fans even serenaded him with a rousing “Looouuuuu!!” like they’d later do for Merloni (and then adapt it into Yoooouuuuukkkss! for Eucilis, the walk god.)

  4. 4.  Kind of amazing that you can just put up Lou’s card and start writing about temper tantrum’s without even mentioning Lou, and we readers still get the connection.

    Isn’t it maddening that after several decades of writing software they still cannot make software that makes sense to average people? The world is no doubt more complicated and frustrating and difficult, as much as the world is simpler and easier to navigate at the same time.

  5. 5.  What gets me is there is good software-brilliant software-like ITunes and Amazon.com’s One Click-made by people who care about the user’s experience. And there is all the rest of it.

    My company is issuing a massive upgrade. Not to make us state of the art-just to make us so we’re not so far behind any more. Yet the “training” site they have set up is repulsively bad, and the software itself is kludgey and ugly and pointlessly complex. And they wonder why people quit?

    If I had any hair left, I’d be pulling it out too.

  6. 6.  Why is Piniella so angry? He’s always so pissed off. Not sure why. Here are some Piniella angry shots:

    For a big guy, I always wondered why he didn’t have more power. He has a big ass melon, and his hat always rested way up high on that prodigious, squarish cranium. Yet, the big tough hot head was a slap-hitting, slow, singles man.

    Most people talk about Bucky’s HR in the ’78 playoff game, but just as big was that WTF catch Piniella made that saved the game. It did look pretty freakin’ lucky.

    Again, Piniella is not a happy dude . . . why?

  7. 7.  “Lou Piniella only argues on days ending with the letter ‘Y’.”

    –Ron Luciano (Umpire)

  8. 8.  Yeah, I don’t know why Lou is such a tantrumist. Maybe being something of a disciple of Billy Martin has something to do with it. He’s lucky though. What other line of work would hold within its bounds of normal behavior the antics of a 63-year-old man screaming, trying to kick dirt on another man, and kicking his cap all over the field?

    As for his lack of power: If memory serves, he had a very level swing, not really good for lofting balls out of the yard, especially if the yard is Yankee Stadium, which has very rarely been home to right-handed sluggers.

  9. 9.  I went to the Winter Meetings a couple years ago, and found myself at one point standing back-to-back with Piniella. I could overhear him holding a normal, calm conversation in a normal, calm tone of voice, but even then, his sentences were littered with profanities.

    I think he’s like that Spinal Tap guitarist, where his anger scale has been renumbered. When you turn it all the way down to it’s lowest setting, it’s on 9. All of his output comes out “nine angrier” than normal people.

  10. 10.  It’s always kind of weird when you see a volatile guy like Lou working in a TV studio setting. I watch those programs waiting for Lou to erupt at any moment and start spitting in the face of his fellow commentators, pulling the microphones off their lapels, tossing notes around the set. Here’s hoping.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: