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The White Sox manager was thrown out of four games in his rookie season. Were his arguments justified? Or, failing that, awesome?
For all the talk about Robin Ventura being a calm, cool and collected contrast to Ozzie Guillen's unpredictable unprofessionalism, it certainly didn't show up in one enlightening statistic.
In Guillen's last season with the Sox, he was ejected twice. In Ventura's inaugural season managing the Sox, he failed to finish four of them.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Managers often get tossed for good reasons, like drawing attention to game-changing incorrect call, or taking up the argument of a player and making sure he doesn't get thrown out. If I were asked to give an "appropriate" number of ejections for a manager over the course of a season, I'd answer with five. I'm not married to that answer, and there probably isn't a correct one, but five is a nice number. I like five.
So Ventura's ejection total is well within the realm of reason to me. He certainly had his reasons when he did leap out of the dugout to state his case, and he showed a range of intensity across the set.
MLB.com has the footage from each of his ejections. I've arranged them below in order of impact, based on a completely arbitrary system of weights for factors like the cause, the amount of fury, and the end result.
Cause: Jose Quintana appears to pick off Chris Iannetta on a crafty designed play, starting with Paul Konerko playing off the bag, then breaking toward first base at the last moment. It was a moment too late for first base umpire Ed Hickox, who immediately calls balk. Later, he explains that Quintana didn't throw to the bag, but rather to a target playing 10 feet off the bag.
Judgment: This one builds slowly, and by the end, Ventura is pretty demonstrative and clearly showing up Hickox enough to get the boot. But at the time, it felt like he was protesting cruel fate more than the balk. The Sox were sliding into second place, and dammit, Ventura just couldn't have anything nice. That Hickox's call was defensible also dulls the outrage.
Cause: Alex Cobb plunked A.J. Pierzynski with intent, because Pierzynski slid hard and late into Ben Zobrist the previous night. Mark Wegner did not issue a warning after Cobb's pitch, but that didn't stop him from immediately ejecting Quintana after Quintana fired his first pitch behind Zobrist's legs.
Judgment: Ventura picked a good time for his first ejection. The call was worth protesting for Wegner's baffling logic alone (Pierzynski took a clear purpose pitch, and then Quintana gets thrown out for not hitting a guy), and Ventura took over the argument from A.J. Pierzynski, keeping the catcher in the game. That said, Ventura's ejection couldn't stand up to Hawk Harrelson's over-the-top rage. In fact, you can't even figure out when Wegner threw out Ventura from the clip alone.
Justice would be served a more satisfying way, at least. Cobb's plunking of Pierzynski came around to score, and the Sox won the game by one run.
Cause: It's been a long day of bad pitching, and D.J. Reyburn's strike zone isn't helping. When Hector Santiago fails to get an inside strike that Reyburn gave Darren Oliver in a key strikeout of Adam Dunn the inning before, Ventura lets loose a day's worth of frustration around home plate.
Judgment: This is actually my favorite Ventura argument of the season in terms of style. It's his second ejection, but it's his first explosion, and it thrills everybody. Usually managers let it go on too long, and by the time he leaves the field, the crowd is tired of applauding. Ventura showed good sense by keeping it to 30 seconds, which kept the fans involved. They gave him a rousing ovation on his way out, and a rousing Bronx cheer for Reyburn's first called strike.
Cause: The White Sox trailed 3-1 early, and they weren't getting any help from Lance Barrett, whose strike zone was far friendlier to right-handed Blake Beaven than the left-handed Quintana (funny how he keeps showing up here). Barrett makes matters worse by ejecting Pierzynski for disputing his strike zone, even though Pierzynski did not turn to Barrett or show him up in any perceptible way.
Ventura then takes over for Pierzynski and gets run by Barrett as well, after which he's intercepted by crew chief Jim Joyce. There's plenty of contact between Ventura and Joyce, but Joyce seems to initiate all of it. During this second leg of the argument, the broadcast clearly picks up Ventura yelling over Joyce to a pie-faced Barrett, "You know you missed the call, and you can't take it!"
Judgment: This one is more prolonged and messier than his previous ejection, but apparently he and Pierzynski made their points clear. Barrett's strike zone evened out considerably afterward, and Pierzynski's replacement, Tyler Flowers, hit a game-tying homer. Plus, points for bellowing a complete, angry sentence for us all to hear. Sure, it's not quite as titillating as Pierzynski's screaming refrain ("You're f---ing brutal!"), but, let's remember: Ventura is professional.