The fall guys

"It's a tough job, but it's a great job. I've been very fortunate to have stayed in baseball for 60 years, and I fondly remember my three years with Mr. Wrigley and the Cubs. I don't know Rick Renteria very well, and I wasn't successful enough for him to take my advice very seriously. I'd just tell him, 'Make sure you have enough arms.' The Cubs never seem to have enough pitching."

Joe Amalfitano (1979-81): 66-116

Amalfitano replaced Franks when he resigned with a week to go in the '79 season, then took over for Preston Gomez after 90 games of the '80 season. He would have had the whole '81 season to himself except that it was a strike year and they played only 57 games, finishing sixth out of six. Like his old Giants roommate Marshall, Amalfitano is still active as an adviser to the Giants' minor league department.

His story:

"I was there, you know, in '69 when the Mets overtook us. I was one of Leo Durocher's coaches. We both loved the Cubs. After he retired, I went to visit him in Palm Springs, and he talked about how much he regretted not bringing a world championship to Chicago. Here was a guy who everyone thought was as hard as nails, who had won a World Series for the Giants in '54, but that really ate at him.

"Nobody really cares what I think, but since you're asking, here is what I would tell Rick Renteria. On one of your first days at Wrigley, get there very early, and take your cup of coffee and your fielding charts and your books out to the dugout. Then sit there, and every once in a while, look up from your homework to see the place come alive. The grounds crew will get there first, and then the clubhouse guys and the security and concessions people, and then the pitchers will come out of the tunnel for batting practice, and the media will start to gather. Sit there in that dugout until it's 1 o'clock and there are 30,000 people cheering in the seats. If he does that, he'll realize just how fortunate he is. And that will make the job easier."

Lee Elia (1982-83): 127-158

It's hard to reconcile the big man in the No. 4 Braves uniform - the one who's watching and quietly counseling various minor leaguers -- with the Rant Heard Round The World back in 1983. (Here's a heavily edited, cleaned-up version.) But that is indeed Lee Elia leaning up against the cage on a back field at the Braves' complex at the Wide World of Sports. What's more, the special adviser to Atlanta GM Frank Wren doesn't really mind talking about the day (April 28) he vented his frustrations about the fan base: "Eighty-five percent of the f---ing world is working. The other 15 comes out here. A f---ing playground for the c-------ers."

His story:

"I'm not making any excuses because I never should've done it. But here's the situation. I came from the Phillies, so I was used to winning. It was my first major league managing job, so I'm somewhat immature. We'd just lost a one-run game to the Dodgers at Wrigley to drop us to 5-14. I had just broken up a fight between two of my players (Keith Moreland and Larry Bowa) and some fans. There was no cooling-off period then, and I have to fight my way through all these Dodger reporters to get to my desk. So when a reporter asked me a question about fan support, I lost it.

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