Oh hi there, friends!
Holy moly you guys. Sunday’s game may have ended in a loss for the Twins, but man, we all ended up with one major win - the return of a manager losing his ever-loving shit on the umps. I mean, sure, Rocco’s been tossed from two other games this season but this, my friends... this was <chef’s kiss>.
The era of replay has been 95% a good thing, what with blown calls really screwing the Twins (and all teams) in the past. (Looking at you, Phil Cuzzi calling Mauer’s massive hit foul in the 2009 ALDS).
While replay was introduced in 2008, it wasn’t until 2014 that a manager could challenge a call and ask that there be a review of a play/blown call. And once the challenge was introduced? Well, that seemed to be the end of the really heated arguments - and subsequent ejections - from the more colorful managers of yore - guys like Ron Gardenhire, Ozzie Guillen, Lou Pinella, Bobby Cox, and the like. The early 2000’s had some fantastic arguments and ejections that were likely the catalysts for allowing for manager challenges. For some fun montages of these guys getting tossed, click here, here, here, and here.
Over the years since Gardy left the manager role, there’s been a certain fire that’s been lacking in that dugout. Call it the birth of the replay/challenge. Call it a change in the game or the rules (ahem, stupid catcher blocking the plate rule from Sunday). Call it better anxiety meds. Whatever you call it, there’s no denying that Ron Gardenhire was the most fun to watch of all Twins managers when it came to ripping umps a new one and getting tossed from a game.
One could argue that it was the onset of replay in 2008 (and the subsequent ability for a manager to have a challenge in 2014) that makes for relatively argument-free Twins managers. But you’d lose that argument. Oh yes, friends - I did some MF-ing research and came with receipts, y’all. The Ron Gardenhire era lasted for thirteen seasons, from 2002 - 2014. In that time, he threw down (in the regular season) with the umps and got tossed seventy one times. (Not counting the time he got tossed in the 2010 ALDS). In 2008 alone, he was ejected eight times - as many as Molitor had in his total time at the helm. Once the managerial challenge became a thing in 2014, Gardenhire still had five ejections - he challenged 40 questionable calls and won 21 of those. In all of the 48 years of Twins managers before Gardenhire combined (not counting the days of the Washington Senators) there were 59 managerial ejections. If you include Paul Molitor and Rocco Baldelli in the post-replay era, all managers not named Ron Gardenhire combined for a grand total of 76 ejections in 56 years. So to drop some math bombs here:
- Total non-Gardy ejections: 76
- Total Gardy ejections: 71
- Total ejections for all Twins managers going back to 1961: 147
- Total Twins seasons (including current): 62
- Total seasons managed by Gardy: 13
- Percentage of Twins seasons managed by Gardy: 20.9%
- Percentage of ejections by Gardy: 48.2%
Ok now that I have that out of the way, let’s get to Rocco’s epic meltdown, shall we? It all started on Sunday when in extra innings, Cavan Biggio hit a deep fly to the outfield, and then Whit Merrifield tagged up and was called out at the plate - which would have been the third out for the Jays in the 10th. Toronto challenged it saying that there was a violation of the plate blocking rule, and the call was then overturned, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. Ultimately, the Twins lost the game. In a post-Gardy world when we thought we’d seen the last of a profanity-laced scream-fest from a Twins manager, Rocco Baldelli lost every last ounce of his composure.
This video from Close Call Sports does an excellent (and unbiased) job of explaining the plate blocking rule and why the call was overturned, but also why it probably shouldn’t have been, and also shows Rocco’s therefore justified meltdown.
The full version of his post game presser is much more colorful than the toned down version of his media presser on the MLB website:
Some people on Twitter are calling Rocco’s on field and post game words embarrassing and many others agree with Rocco. As someone with... shall we say a “colorful” vocabulary, a spicy temper, a memory of the way Gardy used to go off on the umps, a deep love of the Twins, and outrage for the way this play turned out, I for one was so thrilled to watch this whole thing go down. People have their feelings about Rocco as a manager. Some say he’s the best since (the quiet and rarely-ejected, yet led the team to their only two World Series wins) Tom Kelly. Some say he’s too easy on the players or gives guys too many days off because his own playing career was cut short from health issues. Some say he’s too quiet or too young or too whatever to be manager. Say what you will, but he won manager of the year in 2019, his first year as manager.
In any case, I loved this whole thing, minus the loss that could very well end up being a difference maker in a post season hunt... but that's for another day. I’ll love if there’s even a suspension out of it. I would love even more if Rocco starts doing this more often. I love knowing my team is still in it this year, and they aren’t rolling over and dying after such a disappointing 2021 season.
Before I go, in my quest for ejection knowledge, I learned quite a bit, so I’ll leave you with some Ejection Fun facts:
- The most times a manager has been tossed in one season in the modern era is 11 - a record held by Bobby Cox (2001). There were four other old-timey managers with 11, but these occurred from 1905 - 1952, and the game has changed a lot since then. Some count modern era to be post-WWII, and some claim it to be later (i.e. Jayson Stark’s 2006 piece for ESPN saying the cutoff should be 1969). So for my purposes, let’s split the difference and say the modern era the dawn of the Minnesota Twins in 1961. But I digress.
- The modern-era manager with the most ejections is the aforementioned Bobby Cox with 162 over his 29 seasons. Rounding out the top five are:
- Earl Weaver with 96 over 17 seasons
- Tony La Russa, current manager of the White Sox, with 93 in 35 seasons
- Gardenhire comes in 4th in the modern era with 84 in 16 seasons
- Bruce Bochy with 77 over 25 years.
- Surprising to me is that Lou Pinella was all the way down at number 9 with 64 over 25 years and Ozzie Guillen is waaaaay down the list with 29, but was only manager for 8 years.
- If you look at average ejections per season the top five guys actually look like this:
1. Earl Weaver with 5.65 ejections per season
2. Bobby Cox, 5.59 ejections per season
3. Ron Gardenhire, 5.25 ejections per season
4. Bruce Bochy, 3.08 ejections per season
5. Tony Larussa, 2.66 ejections per season
The reason Ozzie Guillen sticks out in my mind is that he’d actually be sitting with 3.63 ejections per season, catapulting him into this top 5. Plus, that potty mouth though.
- Modern era be damned. According to this article from SB Nation’s Ryan Simmons, managers have been tossed twice in one day (doubleheaders, obviously) an astounding ten times. The first five happened before our 1961 cutoff, and the last few were 1963 or later - the last being the aforementioned Earl Weaver in 1985.
Fun facts out of the way, I would love to hear what you think about Sunday’s call, friends.
What did you think of the questionable call at home on Sunday?
This poll is closed
Rocco and the umps on the field were right - the review team in New York blew it in review
It should have been overturned, and justice was served
It should have been overturned and the review was right, but I love me a good f bomb on tv
It was indeed a blown review, and Rocco was right to be upset, but I’m embarrassed for his behavior