Ejection Inspection, Week Seven: Dave Martinez Throws Base over Another Runner’s Lane Interference

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Dave Martinez Throws Base over Another Runner’s Lane Interference Call

Welcome to Week Seven of Ejection Inspection! The premise and ground rules are detailed here. The condensed version: each ejection from the previous week (Thursday through Wednesday) is listed in a table. The author – a former player/coach/umpire – analyzes each ejection and assigns it an entertainment rating of one to five Weavers in honor of late Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver. This week saw Dave Martinez ejected and heaving first base over another runner’s lane interference call involving Trea Turner. (Flashback alert: 2019 World Series)

(Author’s Note: Due to personal illness, the Week Six edition did not run on time last week. Read it here.)

(For a list of every article in this series, click here.)

There were 11 ejections in Week Seven – six managers, four players, and a hitting coach. And, of course, Dave Martinez threw first base.

Ejection Table

1 Thu 5/13 MIL STL T3 Craig Counsell Mgr Jim Reynolds 1B Arguing fair/foul call
2 Sat 5/15 PIT SF T8 Derek Shelton Mgr Mark Ripperger HP Arguing balls/strikes
3 Sat 5/15 MIL ATL B4 Travis Shaw 3B Chris Segal HP Arguing balls/strikes
4 Sat 5/15 MIA @LAD T2 Eric Duncan HtC Chad Fairchild HP Arguing balls/strikes
5 Sat 5/15 LAD MIA B4 Matt Beaty LF Chad Fairchild HP Arguing balls/strikes
6 Tue 5/18 MIN CWS T7 Tyler Duffey P Jim Reynolds HP Intentionally throwing at a batter
7 Tue 5/18 MIN CWS T7 Rocco Baldelli Mgr Jim Reynolds HP Arguing pitcher ejection
8 Tue 5/18 MIL @KC T9 Avisail Garcia RF Brian Gorman HP Arguing checked swing strike
9 Tue 5/18 MIL @KC T9 Craig Counsell Mgr Brian Gorman HP Arguing checked swing strike
10 Wed 5/19 WSN @CHC T7 Dave Martinez Mgr Chris Conroy HP Arguing RLI call
11 Wed 5/19 ARI @LAD T5 Torey Lovullo Mgr Will Little HP Arguing RLI call

 

Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers Manager

When

Thursday, May 13, vs. St. Louis Cardinals, top of the third

Umpire

Jim Reynolds (1B)

Description

With one out and nobody on, Cardinals right fielder Dylan Carlson fouled a 3–2 cutter off his foot. It appeared initially to be a groundout to first, but Carlson didn’t run, claiming the ball hit his foot. The umpiring crew huddled, and after a discussion correctly ruled the ball foul.

Counsell came onto the field to argue the play. After about a minute of non-stop arguing, Reynolds launched him.

Understand the frustration?

A little. The Brewers have not been playing well, and this play saw what the Brewers thought was an out into a foul ball. However, the goal is for the umpires to get the play right, which they did. If the roles were reversed, Counsell would have been glad the umpires converged.

Was the ejection justified?

Yes. Counsell simply would not stop, so the only way to continue the game was to eject him.

Entertainment Rating

One Weaver. This was both eye-rolling and annoying.

Derek Shelton, Pittsburgh Pirates Manager

When

Saturday, May 15, vs. San Francisco Giants, top of the eighth

Umpire

Mark Ripperger (HP)

Description

This one built up over multiple at-bats, like many ball/strike ejections do. In the top of the eighth, with two outs, a runner on first, and the game tied at six, Pirates reliever Chris Stratton threw a 1–1 fastball to center fielder Austin Slater. Despite the ball being just above the knees and over the outer half of the plate, Ripperger called a ball. This drew loud protest from the Pirates dugout. Slater ultimately walked, drawing a mound visit.

The first pitch to the next hitter, right fielder Darin Ruf, was a borderline pitch at the knees. Ripperger called it a ball. Shelton laid into him from the dugout. Ripperger said, “Yes it is there.” Shelton said something inaudible leading up to “all (expletive) game. Wake the (expletive) up.” Ripperger said, “Get (expletive) out of here” and ran Shelton. Shelton shot out of the dugout, covering his mouth with his mask before tearing into Ripperger with several finger points. After two or three sentences, Shelton left the field.

Understand the frustration?

Late in a tie game, allowing any baserunner will be frustrating. It is worse when a team feels that the calls leading to it were incorrect, so obviously, the answer is yes.

Was the ejection justified?

Definitely. Arguing balls and strikes is grounds for ejection; doing it in a prolonged and profane manner is automatic.

Entertainment Rating

Two Weavers. It might have been more had the mask not covered Shelton’s mouth for the face-to-face argument.

Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers Third Baseman

When

Saturday, May 15, vs. Atlanta Braves, bottom of the fourth

Umpire

Chris Segal (HP)

Description

Shaw took a 3–2 pitch from Ian Anderson near the knees and over the middle of the plate. Segal rang him up. Shaw turned around and jawed at Segal. Segal turned to walk away, and Shaw ended what he said with “all (expletive) day.” See ya.

Understand the frustration?

The Brewers are not playing very well right now. They are last in the National League in hitting, and at the time, Anderson had yet to allow a hit. The whole team is frustrated.

Was the ejection justified?

Yes. Not only was Shaw arguing balls and strikes, but it was both profane and persistent.

Entertainment Rating

One Weaver. It was ho-hum.

Eric Duncan, Miami Marlins Hitting Coach

When

Saturday, May 15, at Los Angeles Dodgers, top of the second

Umpire

Chad Fairchild (HP)

Description

Marlins second baseman Isan Diaz took a 2–2 running fastball from Trevor Bauer for a called third strike. It was initially headed inside but tailed back over the plate in time to be a strike. It was Bauer’s fifth strikeout, and it came on the fifth batter of the game. Duncan argued vehemently from the dugout, pointing at Bauer while saying, “Make him throw the ball over the (bleeping) plate!” He had also said variations of “He doesn’t need any help!” This is an argument a lot of coaches use in multiple sports. They do this to argue while making it appear that they’re complimenting the opponent. At any rate, after the profane statement, Fairchild gave Duncan the thumb.

Understand the frustration?

Yes, even though the pitch was called correctly.

Was the ejection justified?

Definitely. Not only was Duncan profanely arguing balls and strikes, but he’s a coach, not the manager. Managers get some leeway to bark at umpires. Coaches do not — they are there to coach the players, not talk with the umpires.

Entertainment Rating

One Weaver. It was over quickly and had no entertainment value.

Matt Beaty, Los Angeles Dodgers Left Fielder

When

Saturday, May 15, at Los Angeles Dodgers, bottom of the fourth

Umpire

Chad Fairchild (HP)

Description

This was the rare double whammy, where each team loses at least one member in the same game. With the bases loaded, no outs, and a 2–2 count, Beaty took a fastball high and tight. Although it was inside, Fairchild called strike three. Beaty turned to him and said, “You’re bad.” Fairchild dumped him, prompting Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to sprint onto the field for an explanation.

Understand the frustration?

Yes. The call was incorrect.

Was the ejection justified?

Despite the calls to the contrary that it was “soft” and that umpires are “thin-skinned,” this was 100% justified. It was a personal insult, even if it seemed tame. The league does not tolerate any personal insults of their umpires, no matter how trifling they seem. Had Beaty said “That’s bad” or something along those lines, that would not have been a personal insult, and he would have stayed in the game. The moment it becomes personal, it has crossed the line.

Entertainment Rating

Zero Weavers for Beaty for this almost-invisible ejection. If Roberts were to get a score, he’d get Two Weavers because his protest sprints are entertaining.

 

Tyler Duffey, Minnesota Twins Pitcher
Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota Twins Manager

When

Tuesday, May 18, vs. Chicago White Sox, top of the seventh

Umpire

Jim Reynolds (HP)

Description

Tyler Duffey faced White Sox designated hitter Yermin Mercedes with one out and nobody on in the top of the seventh. Mercedes hit a home run the previous night off position player Willians Astudillo on a 3–0 count while the White Sox held a 15–4 lead. This stirred the anger of many baseball traditionalists, including Mercedes’ own manager, sparking impassioned debate. The first pitch from Duffey went behind Mercedes’ legs. The umpiring crew huddled up and, after discussion, Reynolds bounced Duffey.

An angry Baldelli marched onto the field demanding answers. His position was that Duffey should have been warned first. He paced and pointed while ranting, prompting Reynolds to toss him.

Understand the frustration?

Any time a pitcher gets thrown out, especially on only the second batter he’s faced, the manager will be frustrated.

Was the ejection justified?

The crew — along with thousands to millions of baseball fans and pundits — felt that Duffey intentionally threw at Mercedes, so yes. It does not require a warning first. However, this author feels that the pitcher could have been given an informal warning — Reynolds could have walked the new ball to Duffey and said, “Okay, you had your shot and proved your point. No more. Drop it, and let’s play ball.” That could have done the trick. Then when the White Sox took the field, he could have said the same thing to their pitcher.

Entertainment Rating

Zero Weavers for Duffey, Two Weavers for Baldelli. When Rocco gets charged up, he’s fun to watch, but this didn’t last very long.

Avisail Garcia, Milwaukee Brewers Right Fielder
Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers Manager

When

Tuesday, May 18, at Kansas City Royals, top of the ninth

Umpire

Brian Gorman (HP)

Description

In the top of the ninth, with two outs, a runner on first, and Garcia representing the tying run in a 2–0 game, he took a 1–0 fastball at the hollow of the knees for a called strike. (The on-screen graphic was inaccurate.) Garcia threw his left hand in the air in protest. He then took a few steps toward his dugout before getting back in the box, an annoyed look on his face the whole time. On 2–1, he attempted to check his swing on a fastball. As the umpire appealed to first, Garcia walked back toward his dugout again. When first base umpire Adrian Johnson ruled that he went around, Garcia one hand in the air in protest. He then threw both hands up and yelled several things, with at least two f-bombs.

That was it for Gorman. Gone. Counsell charged out of the dugout and laid into Gorman for the ejection. After several statements, Gorman gave Counsell the heave-ho. In response, Counsell fumed even more, angrily pointing several times for emphasis as he paced before leaving the field.

Understand the frustration?

Yes, for more than one reason. The checked swing was close, and it could have gone either way. Secondly, the Brewers, who were 17–10 and leading the NL Central by two games on May 1, have gone 4–12 since. They badly needed this game, and they were within striking distance of the Royals. A 3–1 count and a 2–2 count are two completely different situations.

Was the ejection justified?

Oh, yes. Garcia was demonstrably disputing the call with histrionic gestures and profanity. Every umpire in the league would have thrown him out for that.

Entertainment Rating

Two Weavers for Garcia and Three Weavers for Counsell. Counsell’s might have been the best of the week had Dave Martinez not thrown first base.

Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals Manager

When

Wednesday, May 19, at Chicago Cubs, top of the seventh

Umpire

Chris Conroy (HP)

Description

With nobody out, no one on, a 1–2 count, and the Nationals leading, 4–2, Trea Turner swung at a fastball and missed. It went to the backstop. Turner bolted for first as catcher Willson Contreras retrieved the ball. Contreras threw to first. Turner, who apparently didn’t learn from his 2019 World Series incident, never entered the runner’s lane with both feet. His left foot was inside it the whole way to first. By being where he was, he interfered with first baseman PJ Higgins’ attempt to take the throw at first. This was in violation of rule 5.09(a)(11), so the umpires called time and ruled Turner out.

Dave Martinez didn’t learn from the World Series incident either. He went berserk. Within seconds of entering the field from the first-base dugout, he pointed at first base and marched over to it. Conroy ejected him. Martinez pulled first base out of its post and angrily heaved it to the ground in foul territory before disappearing into the dugout.

Understand the frustration?

This is the most misunderstood rule in baseball, probably because so few have read the actual rule. Yet the rule is simple. The runner must be in that lane for the final 45 feet between home and first in order to be safe if a throw brings him and the first baseman into close proximity. Since the base is in fair territory, he is allowed to exit that lane on his last “step, stride, reach, or slide” for the sole purposes of touching first base.

Remember, though, it is impossible for a runner to exit something that he never entered in the first place. Turner never entered the runner’s lane. By being where he was, he interfered with the first baseman’s ability to field the throw. Therefore, Turner was out. Period.

Side note: for a right-handed batter to adjust his route to first in order to be legal is not hard. It’s only a slight change that will hardly cost him any time. The argument against this rule is tired. The rule has been in place since 1887 and is not going anywhere.

Was the ejection justified?

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind on this one. No matter how anyone feels about this rule, Dave Martinez had to go.

Entertainment Rating

Five Weavers, hands down. This is the ejection of the year so far.

Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks Manager

When

Wednesday, May 19, at Los Angeles Dodgers, top of the fifth

Umpire

Will Little (HP)

Description

About an hour after the Martinez ejection, Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Peacock batted against Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. There was one out, Nick Ahmed was on third, and the Diamondbacks led, 2–1. On 1–1, Peacock bunted in an attempted squeeze. Instead of going up the first-base line, it went straight to Kershaw, so Ahmed had to hold at third. Kershaw’s throw to first hit Peacock in the back of the leg. Peacock was well inside the foul line, probably a good two feet from the runner’s lane. Since Peacock interfered with first baseman Max Muncy’s ability to take the throw, the ball was dead, Peacock was out, and Ahmed had to stay at third.

Lovullo said after the game that he did not see from his vantage point in the dugout that the ball hit Peacock. He thought instead that the throw was simply wide of first, so he thought that Peacock did not interfere with Muncy’s ability to catch the ball. Lovullo argued that point with Little and got nowhere. After about 30 seconds of arguing, Little sent him to the showers.

As a side note, Lovullo also said after the game that Little never told him that the ball hit Peacock, and had Little done so, he “would have turned around and walked right back into the dugout.” When Lovullo saw the replay on the clubhouse television, he knew immediately that Little had made the right call.

Understand the frustration?

Knowing what Lovullo thought at the time, yes.

Was the ejection justified?

Yes. The dispute crossed the line into “persistent,” so he had to go.

Entertainment Rating

One Weaver. It didn’t get all that heated, unlike Dave Martinez, who threw first base. (Author’s Note: Did I mention that Dave Martinez threw first base? Because Dave Martinez threw first base.)

Leaderboard

After seven weeks, here are the leaders.

Managers: Joe Maddon (LAA), Jayce Tingler (SD), Counsell, and Lovullo tied with two each
Players: 17 tied with one each
Team high: Brewers (five)
Team low: Seven have not had anyone ejected yet. They are the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays, and Toronto Blue Jays.
Umpire: Angel Hernandez and Jim Reynolds (tie, four each)

 

Look for Week Eight on Thursday, May 27.

Evan Thompson played baseball as a youth and teenager. He also umpired between 1995 and 2004 and has coached at the high school level.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players/managers mentioned:
Dave MartinezCraig Counsell, Derek Shelton, Travis Shaw, Earl Weaver, Trea Turner, Matt Beaty, Tyler Duffey, Rocco Baldelli, Avisail Garcia, Torey Lovullo, Dylan Carlson, Chris Stratton, Austin Slater, Darin Ruf, Ian Anderson, Isan Diaz, Trevor Bauer, Dave Roberts, Yermin Mercedes, Willians Astudillo, Willson Contreras, Matt Peacock, Clayton Kershaw, Nick Ahmed, Max Muncy, Joe Maddon, Jayce Tingler