Ejection Inspection, Week Two: Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds Brawl Gets Five Tossed

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 07: Benches clear after Chris Archer #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws behind Derek Dietrich #22 of the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth inning during the game at PNC Park on April 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Welcome to Week Two of Ejection Inspection! The premise and ground rules of the column 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 Orioles manager Earl Weaver.

There were six ejections in Week Two – five players and one manager. All but one of these came as a result of a suspension-drawing, bench-clearing incident in Pittsburgh between the hometown Pirates and Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, April 7.

Date Team Opp Inn. Name Pos Umpire Pos Reason
1 Sun 4/7 CIN @PIT T4 Bell, David Mgr Kellogg, Jeff HP Going berserk while arguing
2 Sun 4/7 CIN @PIT T4 Puig, Yasiel RF Kellogg, Jeff HP Fighting (“Being very aggressive”)
3 Sun 4/7 CIN @PIT T4 Garrett, Amir RP Kellogg, Jeff HP Fighting (“Being very aggressive”)
4 Sun 4/7 PIT CIN T4 Kela, Keone RP Kellogg, Jeff HP Fighting (“Being very aggressive”)
5 Sun 4/7 PIT CIN T4 Vazquez, Felipe RP Kellogg, Jeff HP Fighting (“Being very aggressive”)
6 Wed 4/10 LAA MIL 7/8 Smith, Kevan C Cuzzi, Phil HP Arguing balls and strikes


Pirates-Reds Melee


Sunday, April 7, top of fourth inning


Jeff Kellogg (HP)

Background and Description

In the second inning, Reds first baseman Derek Dietrich hit a tape-measure home run to right-center off Pirates starter Chris Archer. It left the stadium, bouncing off the sidewalk into the Allegheny River. After hitting it, Dietrich stood in the batter’s box and stared at the hit. He did not begin running the bases until after the ball landed. As Dietrich crossed the plate, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said some things to him.

Some members of the Pirates did not appreciate that Dietrich waited to run the bases until after his mammoth drive landed. His next plate appearance led off the top of the fourth. Archer’s first pitch to him was just below waist-high and went a few inches behind Dietrich. Kellogg gave Archer an official warning then warned both benches. Reds manager David Bell sprinted out of the dugout like he was shot out of a cannon, vehemently insisting (according to lip reading) that Archer should have been ejected.

As soon as Bell’s tirade began, both benches and both bullpens emptied. No punches were thrown, and the players calmed down after a minute or two. It appeared that they were about to return to their respective benches when, suddenly, Reds RF Yasiel Puig surged back at the mob. It took several people to restrain him and get him off the field. When Puig left the field, everyone else did as well.

After a brief meeting with his crew, Kellogg ejected Bell, Puig, Reds reliever Amir Garrett, Pirates reliever Keone Kela, and Pirates reliever Felipe Vazquez. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters after the game (0:38 mark) that the umpires told him that the four players were ejected for being “very aggressive.”


Every sport, just like other industries, has an unwritten “code.” It’s the culture that has developed over the years. In baseball, the finer points of it have been argued, but the overriding theme is respect. This game has been around for over a century – the first professional team (the Reds) is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, in fact. Players are expected to show respect on the field – respect of their teammates, their opponents, the umpires, and the game itself. When a player doesn’t run out a ground ball, that is disrespectful to his teammates, opponents, and the game of baseball. When a player draws a line in the dirt to argue a pitch, that’s disrespectful to the umpire.

When a player stands to admire a long home run and doesn’t even move out of the batter’s box until the ball lands, that is extremely disrespectful to his opponent. He could still watch the ball in awe while running the bases, and that wouldn’t be disrespectful at all. That’s what Dietrich should have done.

The claim of “if you don’t want a player to stare at his home run, don’t give one up to him” is complete nonsense. It’s taunting. Period. Taunting has no place in any sport. As former NFL player and coach Mike Ditka said while announcing Monday Night Football several years ago, (paraphrased) “Beat your opponent fair and square but treat him with respect.”

When the “code” in a sport is violated, there are consequences. In hockey, the consequence is either a good, stiff check or a fight. In baseball, the consequence is a pitch being thrown at a hitter. There is even a code with that, though – stay away from the head.

Now for the ejections themselves.

David Bell, Cincinnati Reds Manager

Understand the frustration?

After Dietrich’s actions, Bell should not have been surprised. Dietrich didn’t just admire the home run for a few seconds. He did not even leave the batter’s box until the ball landed. Archer’s first pitch to Dietrich in the subsequent at-bat was not at all surprising. Reds play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman even said so in the broadcast immediately after the pitch hit the backstop. Had a Pirates player done what Dietrich did, would a Reds pitcher have thrown at him on the first pitch of his next at-bat? It’s a safe bet.

Kellogg handled it perfectly. Archer had his shot at Dietrich, and he missed. He cannot be allowed to keep throwing at a guy until he hits him, and since he didn’t throw at his head, Kellogg was right to warn him and the Pirates’ bench. Since it was retaliation for an unsportsmanlike act by a Reds player, Kellogg was right to warn the Reds’ bench. Bell completely overreacted.

Was the ejection justified?

Yes. What exactly he said after the donnybrook began is impossible to tell from video, and no audio of it exists. However, with how much he was screaming, he had to go.

Entertainment Rating

Five Weavers, easily. Bell was irate as he came out of the dugout. When the benches emptied and the pack arrived, he had moved past irate, screaming in Kellogg’s face as one of his coaches restrained him. What he did wasn’t an argument – it was a tirade.

Yasiel Puig, Cincinnati Reds RF


As both teams were settling down, Puig broke free from his teammates who were restraining him and lunged at the Pirates. He started shoving anyone within reach, and the fracas resumed.

Understand the frustration?

The Reds had no right to be angry. As mentioned earlier, what Dietrich did was messed up.

Was the ejection justified?

Absolutely. Puig was on a rampage.

Entertainment Rating

Five Weavers. Puig completely lost his mind.

Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds RP
Keone Kela, Pittsburgh Pirates RP
Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates RP

These three did not appear to throw any punches, but the video and audio couldn’t pick up everything they did or said during the brouhaha. No opinion can be given without more information. However, what can be said is that the umpiring crew wouldn’t have thrown any of them out without being absolutely sure that they deserved it.

Kevan Smith, Los Angeles Angels C


Wednesday, April 10, vs. Milwaukee Brewers, between the seventh and eighth innings


Phil Cuzzi (HP)


With two out, nobody on, and a full count in the bottom of the seventh, Smith took what he thought was ball four and started to trot to first. Cuzzi, however, called it strike three. Smith stopped in his tracks, turned around, and mildly argued on his way to the dugout. Cuzzi heard him out, and when Smith reached the dugout to put on his gear, Cuzzi went back to the plate.

As Angels manager Brad Ausmus gave Cuzzi his lineup changes, Smith trotted to his position. While running past Cuzzi, he said something that the cameras and microphones didn’t pick up, and Cuzzi tossed him. Before leaving the field, Smith yelled at Cuzzi at length as Ausmus calmly restrained him.

Understand the frustration?

Yes. He was rung up in the fourth inning on a pitch that looked to be at least eight inches outside, and then in the seventh, the pitch he was called out on appeared to be about six inches low.

Was the ejection justified?

When Cuzzi threw Smith out, Ausmus was standing right there and heard every word from both. He did not protest in any way, so it seems like it was justified.

Entertainment Rating

Two Weavers. Smith was worked up and argued at length, but it was rather mild overall.

Look for Week Three of the Ejection Inspection on Thursday, April 18.

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

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