Why Do Baseball Managers Kick Dirt, Argue, And Get Ejected?

Throughout a baseball game you might see a manager argue with an umpire and make a fool of himself.  There have been many famous ejections over the years in Major League Baseball.  Many fans enjoy this side of baseball and think it adds character to the sport.  Why do baseball managers argue with umpires and get ejected from baseball games?

Managers argue with umpires because they disagree with calls and rulings made by the umpire during the game. 

Also, sometimes managers will step in and argue for a player who disagrees with an umpire’s ruling.  Managers do this to protect the player from being ejected.  It is also a way for the manager to show the team that he has their back and will fight for them. 

A manager may also use an ejection as an opportunity to energize his team if he feels like they need it. 

There is a colorful history of managers being ejected from Major League Baseball games.  Let’s look deeper into some of the reasons why and talk about some managers who have made it famous.

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Why Do Baseball Managers Argue?

Baseball managers argue with umpires for three reasons:

  1. They disagree with a call on the field.
  2. A player disagrees with a call on the field and the manager steps in.
  3. They are attempting to energize the team or stadium. 

Disagreeing with a Call on the Field

This is the number one reason why baseball managers argue with umpires.  In modern day baseball, this does not occur as much as it has in the past due to replay review becoming part of professional baseball.

Coaches now can request a video review on certain calls that they disagree with.  This has taken a lot of the argument out of the sport because instead of arguing with the umpire to try and change the umpire’s mind, the manager just asks for a review.

There are still certain things (like balls and strikes) that are not reviewable via replay and will lead to on-the-field arguments between managers and umpires. 

Not all arguments lead to ejections.  Some umpires are more lenient with arguments than others.  Likewise, certain managers are more composed than other managers and tend to avoid ejections during arguments. 

There are some rulings that Major League Baseball does not allow argument over (like balls and strikes).  This does not mean managers won’t argue over such things, it just means it can be an instant ejection.

Some umpires still allow a small bit of arguing over prohibited topics like balls and strikes. 

Stepping in to Protect a Player

Stepping in to protect a player from ejection can be very important so that the player remains in the game.  Managers understand this and will take an ejection so that their best players can remain in the game.

Another reason a manager will step in for a player is to prove to the player and the team that he is willing to defend them and fight for them.  Many baseball players appreciate (and often expect) a manager who does this.

Energizing a Team and Crowd

Arguments get players and fans off their feet.  It can be a shot of adrenaline to the players and something that makes the crowd lively and engaged.  A manager may use this tactic in a big game or perhaps even in a regular season game if he feels like his team is on a losing streak and he’s looking to jump start them out of it.

Doing such a thing takes feel for the game.  Many Major League Baseball managers have been around professional baseball as a player and coach for multiple decades.  They often have a very good feel for when this type of ejection is necessary.

Just because a manager is animated does not mean he is not professional.  As we discussed earlier, many managers use the arguments for show – to defend the players.  Getting ejected and proving a point is the goal, and so they go about it with a lively argument.  They throw their hat and kick dirt and stomp off the field.  The crowd goes crazy.  The players feel protected.  And all is well.


What Are Baseball Managers Arguing?

Baseball managers are arguing on-the-field rulings made by umpires.  These are the most common types of rulings that may cause a manager to argue:

  • Balls and strikes during an at-bat
  • Plays on the base paths
  • Balk calls on a pitcher
  • Fair or foul rulings

As we discussed earlier, many of these types of rulings are now reviewable via replay and do not lead to near as many ejections. 


What Do Baseball Managers Say to Umpires?

Managers will plead their case to an umpire based on a rule or what they think they saw during the play.  The actual words used may contain vulgarity or insults, although many times managers are only putting on a show and are not truly angry.   But defending their players in a lively manner is more effective than slowly walking out there and having a polite conversation. 


Why Do Baseball Managers Kick Dirt?

Kicking dirt has become a sort of tradition for baseball managers during on-the-field tirades.  Many managers have done it over the years and it has become an established part of the act.  Sometimes managers will kick or hand-scrape dirt covering home plate as a way of saying that the umpire is blind. 

Not all managers will kick dirt, but it is often an easy way for them to cause a scene.  As we have discussed, many times managers are putting on a show to protect a player or to energize fans or their own players.  Politeness does not energize.  Kicking dirt is harmless, but also attention-grabbing.  Therefore, it has become a sort of staple of manager tirades through time.

Here are some other frequently used actions by MLB managers while they argue:

  • Throwing their hat
  • Fake ejecting the umpire (hand motion)
  • Shaking their head and arguing face to face
  • Kicking dirt on the umpire’s feet
  • Pulling out and throwing a baseball bag (as in first base etc) or carrying it off the field


Why Do Baseball Managers Get Ejected?

Baseball umpires have the right to eject a manager based on conduct.  There are certain parts of baseball that are automatic ejections if a manager argues (like balls and strikes).

Not all umpires adhere to these policies and some umpires still allow managers to argue balls and strikes if it is not over-the-top.

Sometimes in baseball when batters are hit with pitches, the umpires will warn each dugout to try and keep the game under control.  That means that if another batter is hit, it will result in an automatic ejection of the pitcher and the pitcher’s manager. 


What Happens When A Manager Gets Ejected?

When a manager is ejected, he leaves the dugout and returns to the clubhouse for the rest of the game.  A bench coach will assume the role of manager for the rest of the game.  The game continues, picking up where it left off.

Some ejections lead to fines and possibly suspensions.  Most ejections are considered harmless.  There is rarely carry over and everyone returns to business as usual the next game. 


What Managers Are Most Famous for Ejections?

Several managers throughout the history of baseball became known for their over-the-top tirades against umpires.  Here is a list of some of the most famous managers for ejections:

  • Lou Piniella (loved to throw his hat and kick dirt)
  • Bobby Cox (all-time leader in ejections)
  • Billy Martin (very animated former Yankees manager)
  • Ozzie Guillen (known for his lively tirades)
  • Earl Weaver (considered by some to be the biggest hothead manager in MLB history)

Here is a famous Lou Piniella ejection:

Here is an Ozzie Guillen ejection protecting his players:

Paul Johnson

Paul has been with us from our beginnings. He focuses on a wide range of sports, including NFL, NBA, MLB and golf.

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