BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 04/22/2015

Thiel: Funny, yes, but ex-Mariner Price whiffed

Former Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price, usually an amiable chap, made sports-culture history by profanely complaining about information that goes public. He’ll spend the rest of his career living it down.

Bryan Price apologized for his bad words — not his dumb words. / Cincinnati Reds

As Bryan Price speeds past Carl Lewis’s anthem, Richard Sherman’s rant and Tommy Lasorda’s Dave Kingman diatribe into the sports-culture pantheon just behind Lee Elia’s 1985 salute to Cubs fans, those of us who knew him in his Seattle days have only one thought:

WTF?

During his time as Mariners pitching coach from 2000 t0 2005, Price was a bright, affable sort whose calm made him the anti-Lou Piniella. Which was helpful in that sort of good-cop, bad-cop way when Piniella, Seattle’s volatile manager, went cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs on a pitcher.

Before the poor chap soiled himself, Price would find the minimum safe distance from the explosion and whisper to him, “What Lou is saying is, ‘Throw strikes.’”

So for Reds manager Price to out-Lou Lou Monday — if you haven’t read it yet, here linked is the NSFW version from Deadspin in all its profane glory of 77 f-bombs in 5½ minutes — is unfathomable, albeit highly entertaining, in that sort of sophomoric way that swearing still amuses us.

But beyond the linguistic virtuosity in using the same term as verb, noun, adjective, adverb, object and subject without the help of George Carlin, Price bewilders.

He had no good point.

That is too bad.

Because for a rant to have a 100 percent knockout rate, it has to convey some legitimate anguish that is recognizable to most, if not all. Agree or disagree with the ranter, there needs to be a minimum sort of identification with the emotion.

In the chart-topper by Elia, another Mariners coach in the Piniella era (can’t say the guys  weren’t passionate), the then-Cubs manager was fed up with fans and writers who were, in his view, picking on his players for a 5-14 start. The public criticism was likely justified, but a leader standing up for his troops is at least relatable.

But Price, upset that information about the health and status of Reds players published by legitimate reporters by legitimate means, seemed dumbfounded about a practice that has been going on practically since Abner Doubleday was a zygote.

“I don’t get it,” Price said to group of 10 reporters gathered for the daily pre-game ritual in the manager’s office. “I don’t get why it’s got to be this way. Has it always been this way where we just tell f****** everybody everything? So every f****** opponent we have has to know exactly what we have. Which f****** relievers are available, which guys are here and which guys aren’t here, when they can play, and what they can do? It’s nobody’s f****** business. It’s certainly not the opponent’s business. We have to deal with this f****** b*******.”

Actually, the status of players is, beyond the opponents, the business of everyone who is engaged with the game, be it media, sponsors or fans, all of whom are funding the salaries of Price, his coaches and players. It’s understandable that any manager might want to keep secrets about player limitations, but besides being chagrined upon disclosure, there’s nothing to be said or done in such a public enterprise.

But Price persisted.

“Your job is not to sniff out every f****** thing is about the Reds and f****** put it out there for every other f****** guy to hear. It’s not your job . . . .  How the f*** does that benefit the Reds? It doesn’t benefit us one f****** bit. God **** we try to go out there and win f****** games and I got to come in here and then you guys f****** blow it all over the f****** place?”

This is the equivalent of telling a farmer, “It’s not your job to grow food!”

Or telling an English teacher, “Don’t you dare conjugate that verb!”

Or telling Marshawn Lynch, “No action!”

The reporter’s job is precisely to sniff out everything and report the facts. Whether it benefits the Reds is of no concern to the reporter. If it benefits the reader, job done. That may not be the case when a manager addresses a club employee or someone from MLB.com, but his ire was directed at a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, an independent publication.

Frankly, if an opponent gets an advantage from news on a website, the organization should think about retraining or firing their scouts, whose jobs are about learning such details on their own. Besides that, nearly every other MLB manager gets the same questions about the same subjects, and they somehow figure a way to convey or withhold information that leaves them short of overwrought protest.

Price Tuesday offered an apology via the team website that demonstrated he didn’t get it:

 

 

As was mentioned earlier, too bad.

Maybe we’ll find out later that something was going on with Price that was larger than a four-game losing streak. Ah, but there we go again — nosing around where Price doesn’t want reporters to go.

So we’ll just have to let our old pal stand right where his words put him — immortalized on a dubious pop-culture pedestal that will require two or three World Series wins before he is remembered for something else.

It is he who just blew it all over the effing place.


YourThoughts

  • dingle

    Don’t get me wrong, I like a vulgarity-laden, weapons-grade meltdown as much as the next guy. Baseball is the only sport I can think of that really tolerates this sort of thing, which is good because it provides occasional amusement and sometimes some insight into the hearts and brains of these guys.

    But berating the hometown press for doing its job seems not only pointless, but probably earned him a little less doubt-benefit with the local scribes. Not smooth.

    • art thiel

      Quite accurate, dingle. So many times over the course of a season a beat reporter has to make a 50-50 call on whether to publish a potentially controversial anecdote/story. Price lost valuable ground with media by working up a foolish complaint.

  • jafabian

    It’s weird to hear this rant from Price when he was the voice of reason as the pitching coach of the M’s. This was a rant reminiscent of Lee Elia, who later coached under Lou, and John McClaren who also was a Pinella disciple. See the pattern here? So I’m questioning if Price truly lost his temper and was trying to “fire up the team” who started the season 4-0 but have since spiraled downward. If he truly lost his temper usually that means pressure from the front office and the manager knows his days are numbered. Both Elia and McClaren were fired the same year they had their own meltdowns.

    • art thiel

      Good point about the firings. The media closest to the Reds and Price seem as bewildered as the rest of us. I don’t think Price was attempting to motivate players, because the issue had nothing to do with their play.

  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    So, Art, a technical question: When you write a column like this, with the offending words sanitized with asterisks, do you write it first, verbatim, and then do a search-and-replace? Or do you set up a macro on one of your… ahem…. f*nction keys so that you can just insert the proper substitution with one tap of the finger? Cuz that’s a lot of f***ing work, making words safe for people to… uh…. not read.

    ps – I remember when your book about the Mariners was published in 2000 (I believe) and they printed excerpts in the Times or the PI. Someone there just did a quick copy-and-paste without proofing it, leaving at least one instance of the word “chickensh*t” in glorious black ink on white paper for all readers to obtain. The adolescent in me grinned that day.

    • art thiel

      The Cincinnati Enquirer transcribed the entire session and deserves credit for the manual insertions of *, after which they had to order a tanker car’s worth of replacements. The transcription went global via social media and wire services.

      Regarding my book, it was fall of ’02, and never in the Times. The P-I editors may well have recognized the flavor of the language added, not detracted, from the storytelling.

  • Al Wasser

    Even worse, as part of Price’s tirade, is that he was upset over the reporting that a new catcher was coming up from the minors and the Reds’ back-up was being sent down before Price could inform him of the fact. And whose fault is this? If Price doesn’t want word to leak out, he can let the catcher know that he’ll probably be headed back to AAA … a fact that he probably figured out anyway.

    • art thiel

      Exactly. That episode was purely on the team for not being first with the demoting player.

  • notaboomer

    price’s rant was ultra lame. jim leyland’s more concise f bomb rant here is so much better and with a very clear and meaningful purpose:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9DHA2dJ7uQ

    • art thiel

      Excellent pull, nota.

  • Sam Base

    The whole thing was a bit disappointing. Everybody loves wacky, nutty meltdowns, but this one was just kind of sad.

    I still find it odd that our society bleeps out cuss words. What if our wonderful national flag had been designed with a big F-Bomb right in the middle of it? Would we bleep our own flag? Probably.

    • art thiel

      Fewer do these days, but we’re sticking with AP style as a general media convention.

  • coug73

    Rookie. He didn’t curse while throwing a base or watercolor and he didn’t get tossed out of the game or locker room. Lame.

    • art thiel

      Non-game situation. Lou’s cuss word with reporters was calling them “sir.”

  • MacPhisto92

    Haven’t heard a rant this pathetic since John McLaren’s…

    • art thiel

      Good recall.

  • Jeff Shope

    media way too sensi poo

    • art thiel

      It’s all about the chillruns, don’t you know?

  • Da Kid

    What The Fricative? Too hard to say. Fortunately there’s always Fudge. Uddawise, fuggedaboudit.

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    Besides “I,” the F-bomb has come to be the most overused word in the language. It’s gotten boring.

    • art thiel

      Disagree. Most overused: Like.

      • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

        I had to “like” that comment. No choice.

        • art thiel

          And you used it correctly.

    • jafabian

      According to former Hoosier Bob Knight it’s the most versatile word in the English language. It can be used as a verb, noun, adjective, synonym, preposition, etc. And at times all in the same sentence. There’s a pretty funny YouTube interview of him giving an example.