I like reading about hardass managers from the seventies–Dick Williams, Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Earl Weaver–because it’s just so difficult to imagine them in today’s game. Here is a typical bit of nastiness from Billy the Kid, courtesy of Bob Klapisch and John Harper’s The Worst Team Money Could Buy:
Little by little, the Mets were becoming the old Yankees, the original press haters. Billy Martin had been the leader, a virtual dictator, even after he’d been humbled so many times by George Steinbrenner. Norman MacLean, then of the United Press International, once walked into Matin’s office and asked him for a few minutes’ time.
“Get lost, Norman,” Billy said pleasantly.
“Just a quick couple of sentences,” MacLean persisted.
“Norman, get the fuck out of here,” Billy said, his face darkening.
“Look, all I need is three sentences,” MacLean said, panicking.
Softening, Martin smiled and said, “Okay. You want three sentences? Turn on your tape recorder.” When MacLean obliged, Martin leaned into the microphone and said, “Fuck you. You’re an asshole. Get out of here.” Billy leaned back in his chair and said, “How’s that Norman?”
Imagine if a manager leaned over and said that into Pete Abraham’s I-Pod? It’d be posted, linked, and buzzed about so much within a few hours there is no way the manager would keep his job.