SEATTLE -- When coming up with the Top 10 funniest moments in Mariners history, the easy way to go would be digging up 10 Lou Piniella outbursts with umpires. But while that would be entertaining on its own, it would naturally leave out some equally humorous incidents.
So we picked the best Sweet Lou -- or not-so-Sweet Lou -- highlight and gave some other funny topics air time as well. Here’s our Top 10:
1. Sweet Lou tests out his kicking leg
Aug. 26, 1998
Piniella was ejected 28 times in his 10 seasons as the Mariners’ manager and each one was a show unto itself. But one of the all-timers came in his fourth season with Seattle when he got into a confrontation with second-base umpire Larry Barnett following a disputed double play during a game in Cleveland. By the time it was over, Piniella had thrown down his hat and then kicked it, time after time, across the diamond and finally into the stands behind the visiting dugout … whereupon a generous Indians’ fan tossed it back. So while Piniella lost his cool and the Mariners lost the game, 5-3, at least the skipper didn’t lose his cap.
2. Randle blows ball foul
May 27, 1981
Some guys will try anything to win a game, and Mariners third baseman Lenny Randle pulled out all the stops when he got down on all fours and huffed and puffed and blew a slow roller by the Royals’ Amos Otis across the foul line in the sixth inning of a Kingdome game. Home plate umpire Larry McCoy initially called the ball foul before reversing his decision and awarding Otis an infield single in Kansas City’s 8-5 win.
3. Fans throw money during A-Rod’s return
April 16, 2001
Mariners fans weren’t happy when star shortstop Alex Rodriguez ran to the rival Rangers in free agency in 2001, signing a 10-year, $252 million deal that was the largest in baseball history at the time. So when A-Rod arrived back in Seattle for the first time two weeks into his first season in Texas, he was greeted with thunderous boos ... and a stadium filled with fans throwing fake money at their former favorite. One fan dangled a dollar bill off a fishing pole over Rodriguez’s head as he stood in the on-deck circle and the swirling winds carried fake bills printed with A-Rod’s face all around the stadium. Rodriguez wound up going 1-for-5 and the Mariners took the game, 9-7, during a season in which they would win 116 games.
4. Big Unit fires a heat check over Kruk’s head
July 13, 1993
Few left-handed hitters really wanted a piece of Randy Johnson, and Phillies first baseman John Kruk topped the list of those who didn't. When Johnson faced Kruk in the third inning of the 1993 All-Star Game in Baltimore, the Big Unit unleashed a fastball over Kruk’s head on his first pitch. Kruk acknowledged his heart palpitations, reluctantly stepped back in the box … and half-heartedly waved at three outside offerings by Johnson before heading back to the dugout. Johnson threw two perfect innings in the AL’s 9-3 win. “I lived,” said Kruk. “So it was a good at-bat.”
5. Cruz takes photo with ump
July 11, 2017
Johnson wasn’t the only one who knew how to make a memorable All-Star moment. Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz made his own memory in the 2017 Midsummer Classic in Miami. As Cruz ambled to the plate in the sixth inning, the big designated hitter pulled a cell phone out of his back pocket and proceeded to ask home-plate umpire Joe West if they could take a selfie together. Then, spotting an even better opportunity -- and realizing his batting gloves weren’t going to make for an easy task -- he asked National League catcher Yadier Molina to snap what turned out to be a priceless picture before putting the phone back in his pocket and flying out to center field off Zack Greinke. Cruz went 0-for-2 in the game, but the AL wound up winning, 2-1, on teammate Robinson Cano’s 10th-inning homer.
6. Buhner flips out … and still makes the catch
July 29, 1997
Jay Buhner was known for his fiendish sense of humor, but Red Sox catcher Scott Hatteberg found nothing to laugh about when the Mariners’ right fielder robbed him of a home run with one of the all-time catches in franchise history. Buhner caught the ball as he tumbled over the fence at Fenway Park, then hopped back into the field of play with the ball firmly in his glove. Boston won the game, 4-0, but the man called Bone made his mark with the fearless, acrobatic eighth-inning catch.
7. Félix’s fun with Beltré
Aug. 7, 2018
Félix Hernández and Adrián Beltré were best friends and teammates in Seattle, which carried over into a friendly rivalry after Beltré signed with Texas. Every meeting seemed to kick off some sort of shouting from the dugouts or smirks from the mound. But in Beltré’s final season, the two had their moments in an August meeting in Arlington. Hernandez broke out in all-out laughter on the mound after making Beltré look silly with a nasty curve ball for a second-inning strikeout. But Beltre got the last laugh with a sixth-inning homer in the Rangers’ 10-4 win.
8. Lloyd does a pretty good Lou impression
June 2, 2015
Piniella wasn’t the only Mariners manager capable of heating things up. Lloyd McClendon got more than his money’s worth in a game against the Yankees at Safeco Field in his final year as skipper. He hustled around the diamond and got in the face of first-base umpire Will Little, home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro and finally third-base umpire Tony Randazzo, in order, while unleashing a couple of healthy kicks of his cap for good measure. McClendon charged out after catcher Mike Zunino was ejected when Little didn’t ring Rodriguez up on a checked swing that instead resulted in a third-inning walk in the Yankees’ 5-3, 11-inning win.
9. Commercial success: An annual affair
April 30, 2010
It would be impossible to make a list of Mariners’ humorous moments without including their annual promotional commercials. It would also be impossible to pick just one out of an array that includes Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Buhner and more over the years. But one of the all-time classics came in 2010 when Griffey was back in Seattle with his old buddy Ichiro Suzuki … and left Ichiro glued to his chair in a classic Junior moment.
10. Don’t have a cow about it
April 17, 1995
When it came to practical jokes, few were in Griffey’s league. His best prank came prior to the Mariners’ historic 1995 season when he bet Piniella a steak dinner that he could hit a home run on the next pitch in batting practice during Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz. Piniella then motioned for the BP pitcher to not throw anywhere near the plate and won the bet. But Griffey didn’t let it go that easily and after Piniella kept badgering him about when he was going to collect on the steak dinner, Junior took things to a moo high by having a live cow delivered to Piniella’s office while the manager was out on the field.