Commentary

Bullpen mess worthy of bigger stage

Calls to the bullpen apparently just aren't that easy to make anymore

Updated: October 25, 2011, 4:34 AM ET
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

Tony La Russa appears on stage with Bud Abbott in the classic "Who's In Relief?'' routine …

LA RUSSA: Who is the reliever you warmed up when I called the bullpen in the eighth inning and told you to get a right-hander ready?

ABBOTT: Yes.

LA RUSSA: I mean, the reliever's name.

ABBOTT: Who.

LA RUSSA: The right-hander.

ABBOTT: Who.

LA RUSSA: The reliever I told you to warm up.

ABBOTT: Who.

LA RUSSA: The right-handed reliever you then told to warm up.

ABBOTT: Who is the reliever I warmed up.

LA RUSSA: That's what I want to know!

ABBOTT: And I'm telling you. Who is the reliever.

LA RUSSA: Look, all I'm trying to find out is what is the name of the right-hander I told you to warm up.

ABBOTT: No, What is the name of the left-hander.

LA RUSSA: Yeah, yeah, we all know Rzepczynski's name is hard to pronounce. But I just want to know what is the name of the right-hander you thought I told you to warm up.

ABBOTT: And I'm telling you -- What is the name of the left-hander. Who is the right-hander.

LA RUSSA: (Barely restraining his anger.) OK. Octavio Dotel is in trouble and Mike Napoli is coming to bat for the Rangers with the bases loaded. Napoli bats right-handed so I want a right-hander to face him. I call you in the bullpen and I tell you to get the right-hander ready. And you warm up who?

ABBOTT: Now, that's the first thing you've said right.

LA RUSSA: I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!

ABBOTT: Now, don't get excited. Take it easy.

LA RUSSA: (About to explode.) Let me go over it again. Dotel is in trouble so I call the bullpen and tell you to get who ready. And so what is the name of the reliever you send in?

ABBOTT: Yes, that's all accurate.

LA RUSSA: I don't understand why you won't tell me his name, but no matter. He comes in and then Napoli hits a two-run double. He then strikes out Moreland to bring up Kinsler. I again ask you to get me a right-hander and so what is the name of the guy you sent in?

ABBOTT: No, What was already out of the game. And Who couldn't get his arm loose so I sent in Lance Lynn. I just don't know why you never told me to get Motte up.

Tony La Russa appears in a credit card commercial …

[A BEARDED MAN WITH A THICK EASTERN EUROPEAN accent answers the phone in a snow-swept credit card call center shack.]

BEARDED EUROPEAN:

Thank you for calling USA Prime Credit. My name is Peggy.

[LA RUSSA speaks into the dugout phone amid a very loud Rangers Ballpark.]

LA RUSSA: I want Rzepczynski then Motte.

[+] EnlargeTony LaRussa
AP Photo/Eric GayPitching changes can get so confusing sometimes.

BEARDED EUROPEAN: Yes, Mr. Rzepczynski. How can Peggy help you?

LA RUSSA: I said, Rzepczynski then Motte. The lefty and the right-hander.

BEARDED EUROPEAN: Peggy confused. Say again please, Mr. Rzepczynski.

LA RUSSA: RZEPCYNZKI THEN MOTTE!!!!

BEARDED EUROPEAN: You make Peggy sad. What address, Mr. Rzepcynzki?

LA RUSSA: DAMMIT!! I SAID RZEPCYNZKI THEN MOTTE!!!! THE LEFTY THEN THE RIGHTY!!!

[The BEARDED EUROPEAN turns to an assistant.]

BEARDED EUROPEAN: For crying out loud, Tony is making another pitching change. Tell Lance Lynn to get warm.

La Russa appears in an Off-Broadway production of "Waiting for Motte'' …

[LA RUSSA and his catcher, ESTRAGON, are waiting on the mound.]

ESTRAGON: What do we do now?

LA RUSSA: I don't know.

ESTRAGON: Let's go.

LA RUSSA: We can't.

ESTRAGON: Why not?

LA RUSSA: Because we're waiting for Motte.

ESTRAGON: Ah!

[Long pause as they continue to wait on the mound. Finally, LANCE LYNN appears.]

LA RUSSA: What the hell are you doing here?

LYNN: I was told to come.

ESTRAGON: That is not Motte.

LA RUSSA: No, it is not. And this one cannot pitch tonight.

ESTRAGON: So what do we do? Continue to wait for Motte?

LA RUSSA: No, forget it. I'm tired of waiting. Just intentionally walk Kinsler. I'll look like an idiot, but what are you going to do?

La Russa appears in a commercial for a cellular phone service …

[First Image: DOTEL gives up a hit and LA RUSSA is standing in the dugout yelling into the phone.]

LA RUSSA: Can you hear me now? Get Motte ready!

[Second Image: MIKE NAPOLI is walking to the plate and LA RUSSA is standing in the dugout yelling into the phone.]

LA RUSSA: Can you hear me now?!?

[Third Image: NAPOLI doubles. LA RUSSA is still standing in the dugout yelling into the phone.]

LA RUSSA: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!?!?!

[Fourth Image: A thoroughly exasperated LA RUSSA is standing on the mound next to LANCE LYNN.]

LA RUSSA: I need to get a phone with 4G. And probably unlimited texts.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Follow Jim Caple on Twitter:

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com