If you’re going to get tossed, might as well have some fun with it.
When players and coaches object to an official’s call, sometimes cooler heads do not prevail. Often, the player or coach being ejected from a contest refuses to leave, stomping feet, kicking dirt, yelling, gesturing and just plain old misbehaving. Comedy at times ensues.
One of the greatest at getting ejected was Lou Piniella. The gruff former player — one of the most profane ball players/managers ever to grace Major League Baseball — took hissy fits to new heights. ‘Sweet Lou’ played in over 1,700 games and managed in another 3,500, but it was one particular game while managing the Cubs in 2007 that perfectly synopsized his crazy side.
Upset with a call at third base during a game at Wrigley, Piniella sprang out of the dugout, ran over to the third base umpire, threw his hat down and began kicking the dirt like a lunatic. All this happened with the Wrigley faithful hooting, laughing and hollering their approval, and then booing when he got tossed.
Piniella was hardly the first to draw giggles after being ejected. Here are 10 of the funniest sports ejections ever, in no particular order.
10. Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos
For a fourth round pick (1999) out of a lesser-known college football program (Louisiana Lafayette) wide receiver Brandon Stokley enjoyed a fairly lengthy NFL career. He played in 152 games with six different teams and scored 39 touchdowns. But he will be mostly remembered for arguing a non-call on pass interference that led to an ejection. In a late-season game while with Denver in 2009, Stokley thought a Philadelphia Eagles defensive back hit him prematurely, causing him to miss a pass. So he ran at the back official, showing his disapproval. Not happy with the response, he took a wild swing at the air, narrowly brushing the judge’s finger. For that, he got the heave-ho.
9. Aaron Brooks, Phoenix Suns
Chicago’s Aaron Brooks better not pull this stunt against on his new team. The NBA journeyman was a bench depth player with Phoenix during the 2010-11 season, seeing limited action in 25 games after a trade from Houston, where he was named league most improved during the 09-10 campaign. So maybe it was the heady elixir of recognition combined with the frustration of further pine-riding that caused him to grab his crotch in a game against OKC. The referee immediately T-ed him up and threw him out. His reaction? Smiling, all the way to the tunnel.
8. Gary Robinson, State College Spikes
The internet is littered with minor league baseball coaches going right off the reservation after being ejected. Gary Robinson’s ejection during a game in 2010 had a strange, hilarious twist. The Spikes are an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and play in the short-season ‘A’ New York-Penn League. Robinson managed the Spikes in 2009 to a 38-38 record after several years as a minor-league umpire evaluator for MLB. One game, Robinson argued that an opponent wasn’t the victim of a beaning, but that the ball hit his bat. He returned to the dugout, only to get ejected. Hot about that, he pulled a “Piniella” kicking dirt everywhere. He finished it off with a fluorish, stealing first base, signing it and giving it to a fan. Now there’s a keepsake.
7. Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
You could post this one under many lists. Worst hockey fighters ever. Funniest slap fights ever. Worst impersonation of a goon, ever. Whatever you want to file it under, Alexander Semin’s ejection was one for the hockey ages. That Semin, known mostly as a playmaker, got ejected for fighting is not the point, it’s what happened during the fight that made it laugh-out-loud hilarious. In early 2009, Semin, then with Washington, got into a scrap with New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal. They tussled for a bit, before Semin got the upper hand. He then rained flailing slaps at Staal, causing commentators to lose it laughing. Normally, a fight gets you five and notoriety. For Semin, just infamy.
6. Brian Walker, Arkansas Razorbacks
This one also classifies as one of the greatest all-time dives in sport. Brian Walker, drafted in the 29th round of the 2007 MLB draft, was catcher with the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2006, when his team visited Ole Miss for a game. With none out in the third inning and his team down 1-0, Walker came to the plate. The Ole Miss pitcher got him to a 1-2 count and then delivered some high, inside heat. Walker, sensing a free pass, feigns being hit by the ball. Only replay shows it missing him by about a baseball width. The ump wasn’t sold and Walker returned to bat at 2-2. The next pitch is a curveball, which he whiffs on. Pissed off, he waves the bat at the umpire and starts pitching his gear in frustration. He gets tossed and loses it, all while Ole Miss fans ride him mercilessly.
5. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
This much is true. Tim Duncan is a beloved five-time champion and two-time MVP. Referee Joe Crawford, not so much. So it was the perfect confluence of events would transpire to have Duncan tossed for giggling. Yup, that’s what we said, giggling. In a late season game against Dallas, a Mavericks player was taking a free throw and missed. Crawford, standing near the basket, immediately signalled a technical foul — for Duncan, who was sitting on the bench, laughing. Later in the game, Crawford T’ed another Spurs player up, sending Duncan into further spasms of laughter. That got him tossed. But, as fate would have it, Crawford got a suspension for his actions that game too. Karma is a bitch.
4. Cam Haas, Watauga High School Pioneers
This kid could have easily made the cheer team, or been an ace at gymnastics too. Haas, a North Carolina high schooler, ran possibly the most bizarre and hilarious motion move ever recorded on film. Not content with just running from his wideout position to the left of the offensive line to the right, Haas did something few others in football could. He back-flipped his way to internet infamy, performing about six flips as the crowd at the stadium roared. He was ejected for excessive celebration, though there was no touchdown as a result of his athletic display. Mary Lou Retton, move aside.
3. Steve MacIntyre, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
‘Big Mac’ is a hulking 6’5″, 250 lb. journeyman forward, well-known as an enforcer, mostly in the minor leagues. Name a league, he’s spent some time there bashing, crashing and chucking the knuckles. In March 2012 the well-traveled forward was earning a paycheque with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The WBS Penguins were embroiled in a match with the Springfield Falcons when all heck broke loose. First, Big Mac tangled with the Falcons’ goalie, which got the brouhaha going. Then he one-punched another Falcon, while the announcer went wild describing the melee. A linesman tries to subdue him, but is easily shrugged off. MacIntyre dukes out another Falcon. Just as the refs seem to have corraled him, he gets loose and goes after the goalie again. Finally, after laying waste to a whole line of guys, Big Mac skates off. We wonder if the mascot ran to hide?
2. Phil Wellman, Mississippi Braves
As managerial tantrums go, Wellman’s makes the Hall of Shame, hands down. No other baseball coach, and we’re talking the world of Billy Martin and Lou Piniella, has ever gone so ‘muy loco’ as Wellman. He was coaching the minor league Mississippi Braves in 2007 when is well-documented tirade happened. The Braves were playing Chattanooga when Wellman objected to one of his pitchers being ejected for using a foreign substance. It started innocently enough and escalated to “get the strait-jacket” territory. He kicked dirt. He covered home plate and then redrew it. He took out third base and tossed it into centerfield. He crawled, military style, from second to the mound and then pitched a rosin bag like a grenade. He finished the lengthy, and funny, outburst by blowing kisses to the crowd.
1. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks
Rumour has it that Sanders packed in the NBA this season because of marijuana use. Maybe that’s why he was ejected from a game the way he was in 2013. Late in the 2012-13 season, Sanders and the Bucks were getting lit up by Washington (102-88 at the time), when Sanders was hit with an offensive foul after laying in a bucket. It didn’t count, causing Sanders to argue the call. While heading back to his own end though, he turned to each official and gave them a thumbs up. Well, the officials gave him a thumbs down in the form of a technical, which sent him off. Wonder what they’d do if you gave them the middle finger?