It was hotter than the deck-surface of the land-locked Exxon Valdez sitting all day in the New Orleans-port sun. Charlie Manuel looked down the length of the visitors' dugout at Wrigley and contemplated using Bret Myers to finish off the Cubs, even though it wasn't a save situation.
Then it hit him.
It hit him
harder than a cleaver locked in the beefy hand of a Sumarao chef-d'oeuvre
smashing through garlic for the shrimp tempura at a
David Yamamoto peered over his left shoulder and saw Charlie Manuel staring at him with a glare that could've born a hole through a steel girder on the
Still glaring at Yamamoto, Manuel through to himself: 'This is the best got-damn idea I've had since I sent Ruiz home.'
Charlie uncrossed his arms and made the little wiggling finger movement at Yamamoto. David looked out at the infield, then back at Charlie. Knowing Manuel is straighter than Paula Abdul in a Ukrainian Restaurant, he slowly got up and made his way toward the Phillies' skipper.
"Sit down right here, son," Charlie said to him. "You and me got to have a heart to heart chat."
Yamamoto bowed slightly, and then sat down on the dugout bench. David Yamamoto is Tadahito Iguchi's interpreter. The second baseman Iguchi, who is filling in for the injured Chase Utley, speaks about as much English as a Mexican immigrant ordering a steak wit-cheese at Pat's in South Philly: "Cebollas adicionales, gracias."
Manuel let Alfonseca finish off the Cubbies and after the on field line-up hand shaking ordeal, ventured back into the clubhouse. He spoke individually to a few players, and then he nodded to Yamamoto to follow him to the press room. Yamamoto glanced sheepishly at Iguchi, who shrugged his shoulders and sat down to remove his baseball shoes.
When the two entered the Wrigley Field press room, Manuel, two steps ahead of Yamamoto, greeted about 12 to 15 press corps, many traveling with the team from
Manuel went to the podium and cleared his throat.
"Ah, let's git this thing started," he told the media throng. "It's gonna be a bit different this time around 'cause my spokesman Mr. David Yamamoto, will be interpreting for me so when you ask your questions, you'll git my answers through Mr. Yamamoto. Understand? Okay let's go, who's first?"
With that, Charlie stepped away from the podium and took Yamamoto by the arm and moved him toward the microphone.
"Yes, the lady reporter from the
"Well, first off, I'd like to ask you Mr. Manuel why you are hitting Pat Burrell third when he's walking all the time?"
Manuel leaned closely to Yamamoto's ear and said, "Tell her she ain't got the sense of a possum climbing a fern tree with a got-damn blue tic on it's ass and I ain't never heard of a woman askin' good baseball questions, anyway."
He stepped away and Yamamoto just stared at him.
"Go on son," Charlie said, "answer the lady's question."
Yamamoto looked out over the reporters and leaned in toward the microphone, and nervously said: "Charlie say, question smarter than American possum. Mr. Burrell, he going to come around. Charlie say, season only half over. Got plenty to play. In September, Burrell make Charlie smart as hunting dog."
The group of reporters laughed.
"Yea, Conlin," Manuel said, "go ahead if you got a question. This should be interesting."
It was Bill Conlin with the Philly Daily News.
"Well," Conlin said, "back when I was covering the Phillies and Danny was managing the team, we often caught the manager making mistakes not only in his verbal responses to the press, but in little things on the field, too. What little mistakes are you making, Charlie?" With that, fat Bill looked around at the other reporters with a smirk on his face.
Manuel leaned in close to Yamamoto's ear. "Tell him if he takes 200 pounds off his backside, he won't take up two seats on the damn bus and my biggest mistake is not putting my 11 and-a-half-inches of got-damn shoe leather up his big bazolla."
Charlie leaned away and Yamamoto looked directly back at him.
"Boy, if you don't want to run back to Philly while we is flying, you better answer the man's question."
Yamamoto leaned toward the microphone.
"Charlie say, Mr. Conlin, you biggest of knowledge of all reporters. Charlie say you don't sit on backside, but you get on the bus and make sure you use good shoe leather covering ball game. He say only you can see the mistakes 'cause you big man on game knowledge."
Again, the reporters bust into laughter, with Conlin smiling and looking around the room, making sure they all heard the answer.
Manuel thought to himself: 'Hell, this is more fun than pissin' off the balcony at the Chicago Hilton.'
He turns toward Yamamoto and says: "Son, you doin' a hell of a job, but now we ain't done yet."
"Okay Eskin, what you got to ask?"
"I'd like to know when you are going to get rid of Eaton and bring in some pitchers that can pitch, that's what I'd like to know," Eskin said.
Charlie leaned in toward Yamamoto's ear.
"You tell that bozo that if I had my way, I'd take him out to the parking lot right this minute and turn his ears inside out. You tell that piss-pot that he ain't got enough brains to git himself out of a rain shower in a bull field. Then tell him to get a real job instead of talking to all those morons who call him cause they ain't get nothin' better to do."
Yamamoto looked at Charlie.
"Go on son, you doin' a hell of a job, now."
Yamamoto turned toward the media.
"Charlie say, Mr. Eskin, you bull in china shop when it comes to baseball strategy. He say, when Howard piss in pot, it right on, never misses."
The room erupts in laughter.
"Only thing," Yamamoto said, "too bad brain is little as ying-yang, or you wouldn't need moron friends calling in, or pot to piss in."
And with that, Charlie turned, trying to hide is smile, and walked toward the clubhouse door, with Yamamoto right behind him.
By the time they got to the locker room, the reporters were still laughing.
"I'm sorry Utley got hurt," Charlie said to Yamamoto, as he put his arm around him,"but son, I'm sure glad you're here interpreting. Let's go have a beer."