Yankees manager Aaron Boone was called on the carpet by MLB last week for getting thrown out of games at a ridiculous pace exceeded by only one manager in history, a guy known as “Ol’ Rant and Rave.” So how did the new “Ol’ Rant and Rave” respond?
“No, I’m not going to change,” Boone said.
It was a misguided response to behavior that is hard to fathom in an age of replay review, which essentially removes every safe-out call on the bases from sensible argument. Well, since then Boone has made it through a whole week without throwing one of his patented tantrums—the levelheadedness caused him to slip into third place on the ejection frequency list—so maybe there is a real change of behavior that he just doesn’t want to admit.
Challenging umpires’ ball-and-strike calls and backing your players comes with the job of managing—even though the manager has a terrible view from the dugout of the width of the plate. Trying to fire up your team with an outburst is an old (if feeble) trick. Fine. But six years into the job, Boone’s behavior is getting unnecessarily worse.
MLB suspended Boone for one game and fined him not just for the latest incident, but also because of his overall and persistent behavior toward umpires. Part of that behavior, an MLB source said, was continuing to pursue an umpire after the umpire attempted to de-escalate the situation by walking away, as they are trained to do. Boone was told in so many words, “Tone it down.”
MLB gave the same advice to Reds manager David Bell when Bell was ejected eight times as a rookie manager in 2019. Bell got the message. He has been ejected 15 times in four seasons since, but that still leaves him with a career ejection rate of once every 26.2 games, not too dissimilar to Boone’s rate of early showers (25.5) and that of Bell’s father, Buddy (29.6).
How foolish does Boone look by getting thrown out so often? Boone has been ejected more times in his six years (30) than Dusty Baker has in his 26 years managing (25). He has been ejected more in the past 1⅓ seasons (13) than Dave Roberts has in his nine seasons (10). His place on this list says it all:
|Manager||Games Per Ejection|
Boone gets thrown out more often than anybody in the past 62 years. It is crazy that Boone is getting thrown out more often than Weaver did. The Earl of Baltimore feuded so often with umpires he was thrown out of both games of a doubleheader—three times. He was the first manager thrown out of a World Series game. His feud with umpire Ron Luciano was so legendary the AL stopped scheduling Luciano to work Orioles games. When an umpire once offered to show Weaver his rule book to explain a call, Weaver shot back, “That’s no good. I can’t read Braille.”
And yet Boone—without the need to argue any call on the bases—gets thrown out more often than Weaver.
Number one of the list, Paul “Ol’ Rant and Rave” Richards, managed the White Sox and Orioles primarily in the 1950s. He was a baseball innovator who designed the oversize catcher’s mitt for catching knuckleballs, was the first manager to deploy pitch counts to protect young arms, was a mentor to Tony La Russa and helped shape “The Oriole Way” of playing fundamental baseball. He also was known to have the foulest mouth in baseball; the same guy who taught Sunday school in offseasons. He led the AL in ejections for a record 11 straight seasons.
Richards, who was tossed for the last time in 1961, and Frankie Frisch, who was given the thumb a final time in ’51, are the only managers to get thrown out more frequently than Boone. Frisch at least was as creative as he was irascible. He was thrown out of one game for carrying an umbrella onto the field to protest weather conditions and another time for pretending to faint in disbelief over a call.
For more context, Boone gets thrown out twice as often as base-throwing, cap-kicking Lou Piniella did. One time after one of his classic temper tantrums in Cleveland, Piniella scolded the bat boy for picking up his cap before he could kick it again. “Never,” he ordered the kid, “mess with one of my props.”
Some of the angriest managers in history—and Boone’s own father—don’t come close to Boone’s rate of ejections:
|Manager||Games Per Ejection|
Tony La Russa
The Mack rate deserves an explanation. In 1895, his first full season as manager, Mack’s Pirates team was playing the Giants at the Polo Grounds when there was a close play at second involving a New York runner. Back then, there was only one umpire. In this case it was Hank O’Day, a former pitcher who was a batterymate of Mack’s with Washington from ’87 to ’89 and who was umpiring his first season. O’Day had to sprint from behind the plate to make the call at second. When he shouted, “Safe!” Mack charged at O’Day and unleashed a string of profanities that carried all the way to the press box. O’Day ejected Mack. Uniformed patrol officers had to be summoned to escort Mack off the field.
Mack managed another 51 years and was never ejected from another game. Unlike Boone, The Tall Tactician made a clear decision to change his ways.