Saturday, January 19, 2013

R.I.P. Earl Weaver 1930-2013

"On my tombstone just write, 'The sorest loser that ever lived.'" -- Earl Weaver

Before there was "Moneyball" there was Earl Weaver.   Before there was Jim Leyland smoking in the dugout, Earl Weaver had finished cartons.  Before Bobby Cox was throwing tirades, Earl Weaver had been ejected from 90 games in his Hall of Fame career. 

It's a sad day in baseball as long time Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver passed away today at 82.  In Weaver's managerial career, all with the Orioles, he won six Eastern Division titles, four AL pennants and a World Series championship in 1970.  He won 1,480 games, had four 100 win seasons and only ONE (yes one) losing season. 

It's always a mixed bag for baseball fan's my age when legends passed away, trying to write a tribute.  I am not old enough to remember Earl Weaver nor alive to hear any of his legendary umpire tirades.  And I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about Weaver, other than his managerial career but reading some of the articles on him is fascinating.   I'm sure my dad or someone his age can provide a little bit more insight and could be a bit resentful from a 20 year old's tribute to Weaver on a blog.  But who cares?  It's like the teenage kid who's the biggest Led Zeppelin fan that gets crap from his hippie uncle..."But duuuude, you weren't there."  

Weaver transformed the way the game was played.  A stats junkie, he was one of the first to utilize platoons, he hated bunting and kept cue cards about stats for certain players against certain pitchers.  

Without Weaver, we may not have seen a few of the greatest players to come through the league.  He pressed to keep a young, struggling Eddie Murray in the big leagues.  All Murray did to reward Weaver's faith was post a Hall of Fame career with over 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.  Weaver moved Cal Ripken Jr. to shortstop where he was supposedly "oversized."  You should know what happened next.  

And of course, there was Weaver's altercations.  Anyone who flipped his hat backwards to get as close to umpires as possible without touching them when arguing gets my approval.  His temper and fiery persona would get him ejected from 98 ballgames.  His style even agitated his own players with clubhouse feuds that would make John Gibbons look like a teddy bear.  

But one thing that never changed about Weaver is that he did things his own way.  His style was ahead of his time, meticulous, innovative and provocative but you can't argue with the results.  When the Orioles unveiled Weaver's statue outside Camden Yards, Weaver said, "I guess there will be a lot of kids looking up to me, too, saying, 'Who is this?' I just hope their dads and grandfathers have the statistics to show why I'm standing there."   Well, Earl, the statistics speak for themselves.  How about YouTube too?

RIP Earl Weaver.  You will be missed in Baltimore and across baseball.  

And this one...