The Los Angeles Dodgers entered Game 4 of the 1977 World Series down two games to one against the hated New York Yankees. Tommy Lasorda leaned on Doug Rau to provide a quality start but did not see that wish realized. Three straight hits to begin the second inning convinced the combustible but always-certain manager that an early hook and fresh blood from the bullpen were his team's best chance at winning. Rau, like any competitor, was not on-board with the decision and the two men had it out in a testy exchange captured on microphone.
Lasorda wasted not a single second informing Rau that he didn't care how he felt, and that as skipper of this here ballclub, he'd be making the decisions. Which, in this case, was scheduling an early shower for the lefty and bringing in Rick Rhoden for relief.
Manager and dejected starter continued their exchange while walking to the dugout, then while in it. Each party seems hell-bent in out-cursing the other.
On the surface, the Quentin Tarantino-like language is amusing and borderline comical. But when you consider all that's at play, it captures one of the things that was so great about Lasorda, who served as connective tissue to a different time in baseball where the manager was The Manager.
There's a cerebral, calculated methodology at work in yanking a starter so quickly in a must-win game because four early hits have made it clear the stuff just isn't there. There's also an unmistakeable dominant alpha gene crowding out all other DNA at that moment. The job of a baseball manager is equal parts mad scientist and just plain being mad. It's about knowing all the nuances but also not being afraid to let the lizard brain take over and rule by emotion.
Lasorda, like all the greats, found his balance. He was affable and combustible. He found brilliant levers to pull and gummed up the machinery. He succeeded at the highest level and failed over and over and over again as anyone skilled enough to be a baseball lifer does.
His life was big and although he lived 93 years, it felt from the outside that there was no time wasted. This vignette shows him as a man of action. The type of person who drove instead of idled.
He was in charge and didn't let anyone f---ing forget it.