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Reviewing Robin Ventura's ejections in 2014

White Sox manager was kicked out three times, and he saved the best for last

Photo by HSA

The introduction of expanded instant replay led many to wonder whether it would lead to a dramatic reduction in ejections.

It didn't. In fact, the number of ejections rose by 11 percent, from 180 in 2013 to 199 in 2014.

Robin Ventura didn't notice a difference in this new era himself, at least in terms of frequency. He matched his 2013 total with three ejections, one short of his personal best during his rookie season.

However, the review system did play a part in Ventura's most memorable tirade. So, to revisit a post I did two years ago -- I'm not sure why I didn't do it last year -- let's analyze Ventura's early exits. The order is both chronological, and from least to most cathartic.

May 24 vs. New York Yankees

Cause: Adrian Nieto punched a single through the right side, allowing Marcus Semien to go from first to third. Nieto thought the throw from right field was going to go through, but when it was cut off, Nieto found himself in a rundown. However, he appeared to escape when he sidestepped Brendan Ryan's tag, with second-base umpire Tom Woodring calling Nieto safe.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi came out to argue that Nieto sidestepped it a little too far, and after the umpires convened, they reversed the call. Ventura came out to argue the reversal, and eventually exhausted crew chief Dan Bellino's patience.


Judgment: This is a run-of-the-mill ejection, both in terms of stakes (3-0 lead in the second inning) and volatility -- a slow burn without much payoff. After a certain point, the manager is asking to get thrown out, and that's what they did. There was a Condescending PowerShrug in there, at least.

June 4 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Cause: The review system didn't change the dynamic between the dugouts and the home-plate umpires on balls and strikes, and when Zach Putnam didn't get a good-looking 3-2 splitter called on Yasiel Puig to put the tying run on base in the eighth inning, Robin Ventura had enough.

Frustration had been building, partially because Danley had an erratic strike zone, and partially because Danley gave Adam Dunn first base on a 2-2 pitch in the top of the eighth. Dunn took his "walk" to load the bases, and Jose Abreu went from first to second. When they corrected the count, Danley sent Abreu back to first, and Ventura didn't think that should've been the case. Dunn then struck out after a lengthy delay to short-circuit the potential rally.


Judgment: I'm not much of a lip-reader, but here's what I picked up:

Ventura: Go home, Kerwin, you're drunk.
Danley: I'm not drunk, you're drunk, you go home.
Ventura: Nice comeback.
Danley: Well, it's binding.
Ventura: Your face is binding.
Danley: Nice comeback.

Ventura is pretty good at strike zone ejections, and it's even better when it's a night game. With day games, he's wearing the sunglasses, so he has to tell the story with his shoulders and neck (successful against D.J. Reyburn two years ago). Without sunglasses, you get some good wide-eyed rage, like this:

Robin Ventura Kerwin Danley Still

Or this:

Robin Ventura Kerwin Danley GIF

That was the only thing missing from Ventura's tour de force two months later.

Aug. 13 vs. San Francisco

Cause: Ventura wasn't a stranger to unsuccessful reviews, but Rule 7.13 was a whole 'nother animal. Gregor Blanco tried scoring from third on a broken-bat grounder to first. Tyler Flowers came out from behind the plate to catch the throw, and had a foot in front of the plate when he received it. Blanco had not yet started his slide at that point, and by the time he did, Flowers shifted his lower body out of the way and applied the tag.

Bruce Bochy came out to give the call a shot, and as the review dragged on past four minutes, one had a feeling the Sox were in for some bad news. After a four-minute and 55-second review, the umpires called Blanco safe, and Ventura let it all out:


Ventura ejection butt drag

Whoops, I mean:

Judgment: Ventura was ejected immediately because you can't argue a reviewed call, but he had a greater point to make about the rule's unreasonable expectations. That point included kicking dirt over the plate  -- nine swipes over two separate visits. That wasn't his most professional of moments, but he probably would've taken a dump on home if it weren't illegal. Then again, San Francisco has more lenient standards for performance art.

Major League Baseball heard his plea, albeit indirectly. This call, along with a few others of equally confusing nature, led MLB to "clarify" the rule in September by allowing umpires discretion to say a runner was a dead duck, although it probably needs more work over the winter.

Given the "success" of the ejection -- and the fact that it'd be dangerous to try topping it -- it makes sense for this to be Ventura's last ejection of the year.