First off, I literally can’t believe this was 16 years ago. The very thought of young Bucco fans out there just getting ready to take their learner’s permit and having been alive to witness Lloyd McClendon stealing first base in the most epic tirade in Pittsburgh Pirates’ history is absolutely stunning to me. Or maybe that just means I’m getting old af. Regardless, we all need to take a moment today to appreciate Lloyd McClendon and the time he became a living legend in the city of Pittsburgh.
You see, this meltdown is one of the greatest meltdowns in the history of manager meltdowns for a couple reasons.
A. The 2001 Pittsburgh Pirates were dog shit. I’m talking a record of 62-100 AWFUL. With the allure of PNC Park’s inaugural season beginning to wane after merely 2.5 months of piss poor baseball, it was getting pretty difficult for the home team to put asses in the seats. Enter: McClendon, Lloyd. After this incident, I’m pretty sure more people showed up to the ballpark to witness McClendon have another psychopath meltdown than they were to watch Todd Ritchie and company serve up meatballs to the opposing team.
B. A meltdown like this isn’t possible anymore in the Replay Review era of Major League Baseball we live in today. Nowadays, a close call like this would be challenged. And ultimately, the correct call would be made in a matter of minutes. Not back in the dark ages of 2001, though! A runner could’ve been safe by a mile, but that didn’t mean shit to anyone else but the man standing in blue on the first base line. You were either safe or out. No ands, ifs, or buts about it. The call was made and that was final. So naturally, managers got a little testy when they felt the call was incorrect. Add insult to the injury that is managing a professional baseball team equivalent to the Bad News Bears and voila – a meltdown of epic proportions was born!
I literally have no clue what Lloyd McClendon is up to these days (Update: he’s the AAA manager of the Toledo Mud Hens), but I just want him to know that he’s my favorite baseball manager of all-time. And that has nothing to do with the fact that he compiled a 336-446 record in five seasons with the Pirates.