“Reporters sometimes report things that baseball types would rather not read… Jay Mariotti discovered this very thing shortly after he began writing columns for the Cincinnati Post in 1985. Reds pitcher Mario Soto had unleashed one of his legendary temper tantrums after a poor outing and Mariotti, unimpressed, wrote that Soto was hurting the team with his outbursts and that the tantrums were childish and unnecessary.
Under normal circumstances, Mariotti would have visited the Reds clubhouse the next day to allow Soto the chance to argue the point. But this time Mariotti was dispatched to cover a golf tournament and couldn’t get back until the following week.
Meanwhile, Soto refused to talk to reporters “until I get a chance to talk to that fucking Mariotti.” Early the next week, Mariotti arrived at Riverfront Stadium to see Soto, only to be greeted by players and shouts.
“Whoo, this is going to get good,” said Reds manager Pete Rose as Mariotti walked by.
Even a stadium guard cautioned Mariotti as he waited for Soto. “You know what you’re getting into?” he asked.
Word soon got to Soto, who immediately confronted the columnist.
“You motherfucker…you cocksucker,” said Soto, poking Mariotti in the chest with a bat.
“Hey, man, would you relax?” Mariotti said.
“Relax?!” said an enraged Soto, the bat now cocked.
Just then former Reds catching great Johnny Bench enveloped Soto in a bear hug and pulled him away. All the while, Soto was yelling and swinging.
“You better get out of here,” Rose said to Mariotti.
“What do you mean? I mean, what good was this?”
“Just get the hell out of here,” Rose said.
A postscript: About a month later, Mariotti was in the Reds clubhouse after a game when Dave Parker, then with the team, sidled up to the columnist.
“Hey, man, get down on the floor and leg wrestle,” said Parker, pointing to one of the Reds’ backup catchers.
“You’re kidding,” said Mariotti, who knew Parker well. “I’m not going to fall for this crap.”
“Yeah, man, do it.”
By this time, many of the other Reds had encircled Mariotti and were egging him on. Mariotti relented. “All right, I’ll do it, but none of you assholes throw anything on me.”
Moments into the leg wrestling, Mariotti felt something slimy smack against his body. It was mayonnaise. Then a glob of Ben-Gay hit him, followed by all sorts of available food items and condiments from that night’s postgame meal spread. Mariotti had made a grievous error: He had trusted ballplayers. Now he found himself prisoner to the baseball equivalent of frat hell week.
Sitting in the slop, Mariotti saw Soto appear from the shadows and douse him with a container of warm, greenish liquid. It had the distinctive smell of urine.”
Mario Soto might be my new favorite baseball player of all-time.