Washington Nationals Manager Dave Martinez Ejected over Interference Call — An Ejection Inspection Special

First World Series Ejection in 23 Years

Dave Martinez
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Dave Martinez #4 of the Washington Nationals argues with umpire Gary Cederstrom #38 as he is ejected and is held back by Chip Hale #12 against the Houston Astros after the top of the seventh inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Dave Martinez Becomes First World Series Ejection Since 1996

In Game Six of the 2019 World Series on Tuesday night, Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez became the first World Series ejection since 1996. This called for a special edition of Ejection Inspection, so welcome!

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 Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who himself was tossed from Game Four of the 1969 World Series for arguing balls and strikes with the late Shag Crawford.

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

Dave Martinez, Washington Nationals Manager

When

World Series, Game Six, middle of the seventh

Umpire

Sam Holbrook (HP)

Description

With Yan Gomes on first and nobody out in the top of the seventh, speedy Nationals shortstop Trea Turner hit a slow grounder to the third base side between the mound and foul line. Astros pitcher Brad Peacock scampered to the ball, barehanded it, and fired to first. The ball and Turner arrived at first close to simultaneously, with Turner knocking first baseman Yuli Gurriel’s glove off and the ball hitting Turner.

Gomes headed to third and Turner broke to second as Gurriel spun around to retrieve the ball. While both runners were en route, Holbrook killed the play. He ruled batter-runner interference on Turner. Consequently, the ball was dead, Turner was out, and Gomes had to return to first.

The Rule

Screenshot from Facebook page of the Wendelstedt Umpire School, a school for aspiring major and minor league baseball umpires

On the first base line, in the last half between home and first, there is a three-foot-wide box on the foul side of the base line. (One name for it is the 45-foot box; another is the three-foot box. The rulebook calls it the “running lane.”) Batter-runners, by rule, MUST run in that box. They are allowed to step out of the box with their last step in order to touch first. Otherwise, they must stay in that box. If the batter-runner is not in that box and a throw hits him or he otherwise interferes with a play, it is interference. The ball is dead, the batter-runner is out, and all runners must return to the bases they occupied at the time of the pitch.

Turner was running in fair territory during his entire route to first. He never once set foot in the 45-foot box/three-foot box/running lane. Consequently, he was not protected for his last step to first, so he was out.

Dave Martinez Disputes the Ruling

When Holbrook made the call, Martinez, understandably, was furious, yelling an expletive that starts with “bull.” He then asked what in Hades (paraphrased) Holbrook was doing as he came onto the field, yelling the same bull expletive two more times. Upon reaching Holbrook, he yelled, “He’s right on the (bleeping) line!” Pointing to first, Martinez continued, “He ran right to the bag!” He soon returned to the dugout and then yelled, “Wait ‘til you watch!” twice.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch then pulled Peacock and replaced him with Will Harris. Coming out of the pitching change commercial break, the umpires called New York on the replay headsets. However, they were not reviewing the play, since it wasn’t reviewable. What they were doing, according to Major League Baseball’s comments after the game, was confirming that they were correct in telling Martinez that he couldn’t protest the game over that decision. They came out of the discussion signaling that Turner was still out, even though they weren’t reviewing that in the first place.

Inning Finishes, Martinez Brings It up Again

The Nationals ended up scoring anyway, when, two hitters later, Anthony Rendon hit a tall home run to the Crawford Boxes in left field, giving them a 5-2 lead. When the half-inning ended, Martinez came back onto the field to argue again with both Holbrook and Gary Cederstrom, the third base umpire and crew chief. What each party said was hard to decipher, other than Holbrook saying, “Yeah, I saw it.” Martinez grew even more irate, prompting bench coach Chip Hale to grab hold of him and try to get him off the field.

As Hale moved Martinez back a few feet, he looked at the pair of umpires and yelled, “(Bleep) you.” He surged again, this time getting grabbed and pulled back by both Hale and first base coach Tim Bogar. Martinez screamed the two-word f-bomb expletive again, then yelled, “What the (bleep) are you looking at?” That was it. Holbrook dumped him, marking the first World Series ejection since Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox in Game Six of the 1996 World Series.

Understand the frustration?

Managers get frustrated over this call every time it’s made, because it’s probably the single most misunderstood rule in all of baseball. Emotions automatically get ramped up in the World Series, so it’s absolutely understandable that Martinez would be angry. Furthermore, Martinez almost got run from Game Five over Lance Barksdale’s strike zone, so he was already amped up. It did not help that Martinez does not understand the rule, as shown from his arguments.

By the way, the umpires have called this rule this season. On two separate occasions, they then ejected the manager of the player who was called out. It happened to Rick Renteria of the Chicago White Sox on April 28 and Brandon Hyde of the Baltimore Orioles on June 16. Ned Yost of the Kansas City Royals also saw an early exit over this rule on August 13 when his opponent was outside the running lane but had no effect on the first baseman catching the throw, since it was well wide to the second base side of the bag.

Was the ejection justified?

Big time. The umpiring crew gave him a LONG leash. Umpires always do so in the postseason and especially the World Series. Even with that long leash, Martinez screamed direct f-bomb insults at both Holbrook and Cederstrom. Consequently, they were fully in the right to bounce him.

Entertainment Rating

Even if this weren’t the World Series, Martinez would get five Weavers. This was as angry as anyone will ever see a manager get.

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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1 COMMENT

  1. Dave was absolutely right to get out there and get in the umpire’s face. #1 He’s backing up his team. #2 He gets them fired up and , well you seen what happened!! #3 Now maybe the MLB will do something to fix that rule. Maybe it should be reviewable… when they do…thank Davey Martinez….
    Go Nats!!!!!

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