La Russa has plenty of company

It will go down as perhaps the most bungled phone call in sports history, a conversation that might cost Tony La Russa a World Series as well as his spot as one of baseball’s great strategists.


He claims he said Motte. The bullpen somehow heard Lynn.

And with that, a strange baseball saga did begin.

“Maybe I slurred it, whatever it is,” La Russa said.

It happens.

Bad phone line one day, no idea how to send a text the next. Really, there is only so much a manager can do.

La Russa, though, isn’t alone. Who can forget the other great communication foul-ups, like this one in the Red Sox clubhouse late in September:

“You said where’s the cream and the clear? I thought you meant get me some chicken and beer.”

Or this from Miami football players caught up in a scandal with a Ponzi scheme booster:

“No, coach didn’t tell us to win one for the Gipper. He said after the game we’re all going to get a stripper.”

Put a few words together and you know what you mean.

Sometimes, though, the message doesn’t always get delivered as planned.

Take Dodgers owner Frank McCourt for example. He’s been accused by baseball of looting almost $190 million from the team and hasn’t had a word to say to his former wife since he fired her as the team’s CEO.

Yet when he finally did communicate with her it was with a divorce settlement she might not have completely understood.

“No, Jamie, I never said I would give you $130 million if we could sell a bunch of Manny’s dreadlocks. What I said was I’m dreading all those houses you live in will soon be in hock.”

Sometimes, it seems, almost all communication is miscommunication. That’s certainly the case in the NBA labor talks, where both sides this week claimed the other side said things
it didn’t.

That led to this exchange from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to union chief Billy Hunter on the possible elimination of the salary cap.

“Really, Billy, you would call for no salary cap? What I said was these negotiations have gone on so long that I think I need a nap.”

Bad connections, indeed. They might have cost Jim Tressel his job.

Turns out the former Ohio State coach was having difficulty hearing when he was called and told that star quarterback Terrelle Pryor and others were selling jerseys and other memorabilia at a local tattoo shop.

“I swear he didn’t say that Terrelle just sold a jersey for a thousand bucks,” Tressel might have explained to NCAA investigators. “All I heard was that they were at a party at the tattoo parlor having a thousand yuks.”

And then there’s the people running the NCAA. Something obviously got lost in the connection the other day when they started talking about cutting checks of $2,000 each to athletes to help them make ends meet.

Funny, because there seemed to be no one on the line the last few years when asked how schools could be raking in millions of dollars on the backs of athletes who got nothing more than room, board and books.

Football players had to be hoping the call was clear.

Being college students, though, odds are they’ll spend the whole thing on chicken and beer.