Skip Looks Pissed

Anthony La Russa Jr. has managed 4,306 games in his MLB career as of April 25, 2007. He’s cultivated a reputation as a cerebral manager in that time. It’s his stoic demeanor, his shades (worn even during night games), the methodical way he works a game. La Russa’s apparent low-key nature has kept many an old-school baseball fan from embracing the professorial skipper. He’s too nuts and bolts, not enough blood and guts. Look at how he let Kenny “Sticky Fingers” Rogers slide in last season’s World Series — would Earl Weaver have taken that sort of shit with nary a peep?

Lou Piniella has managed 2,960 games in his career. Piniella’s reputation is that of a powder keg; The man known as “Sweet Lou” is famous for his spit-flecked tirades, base throwing and the air-curdling vitriol of his swearing. An angry Piniella is a sight to behold. In fact, and we’re not ashamed to admit it, just the possibility of witnessing Piniella’s incandescent rage makes a little pee trickle down our leg every time he stands up suddenly in the dugout.

And yet, La Russa has been thrown out of more games than Piniella, according to the statistics in the just-released The SABR Baseball List & Record Book. See?

  1. Bobby Cox - 123 ejections
  2. John McGraw - 117 ejections
  3. Earl Weaver - 97 ejections
  4. Leo Durocher - 95 ejections
  5. Frankie Frisch - 82 ejections
  6. Paul Richards - 80 ejections
  7. Tony La Russa - 73 ejections
  8. Clark Griffith - 62 ejections
  9. Joe Torre - 58 ejections
  10. Lou Piniella - 57 ejections

La Russa’s been tossed from 73 games in his career, good enough for seventh on the all-time managerial list. Piniella comes in at number 10 on that same list, being on the receiving end of the ol’ heave-ho a mere 57 times. Now who’s old-school? Huh, Piniella? Now who’s got the pepper? Wanna fight? Huh?! Do ya!?!

All right, let’s calm down. Statistically speaking — and this is SABRmetrics, so it’s all statistically speaking — the perceptions of each manager are correct: Piniella is more tempestuous than La Russa, despite the rankings on the raw numbers list. La Russa gets the thumb every 55.28 games (4,306 games managed divided by 73 times tossed). Piniella gets ejected every 51.92 games (2,960 games managed divided by 57 times tossed) — Piniella is clearly more likely to hit the showers earlier than La Russa is on any given Saturday.

Calculating these figures as an ejection percentage (number of ejections divided by total games managed), La Russa’s figure is .01808, and Piniella is .0192567 repeating. Piniella has the edge, at least in terms of ejections. La Russa has two World Series rings to Piniella’s one, so maybe the angry manager isn’t as effective in the long run.

But we’re not talking about wins and losses — we’re talking about Jeter Country, a.k.a. the intangibles. If you believe a manager who gets ejected for arguing is a manager who cares more, let’s figure that ejection percentage for SABR’s top ten list of all time ejectees.

  1. Bobby Cox: 123 ejections in 3881 total games = .03169
  2. John McGraw: 117 ejections in 4769 games = .02543
  3. Earl Weaver: 97 ejections in 2541 games = .03817
  4. Leo Durocher: 95 ejections in 3739 games = .02540
  5. Frankie Frisch: 82 ejections in 2246 games = .03650
  6. Paul Richards: 80 ejections in 1837 games = .04354
  7. Tony La Russa: 73 ejections in 4036 games = .01808
  8. Clark Griffith: 62 ejections in 2918 games = .02124
  9. Joe Torre: 58 ejections in 3700 games = .01567 repeating
  10. Lou Piniella: 57 ejections in 2960 games = .0192567 repeating

Ranked by Ejection Percentage, it looks like so:

  1. Paul Richards .04354
  2. Earl Weaver .03817
  3. Frankie Frisch .03650
  4. Bobby Cox .03169
  5. John McGraw .02543
  6. Leo Durocher .02540
  7. Clark Griffith .02124
  8. Lou Piniella .0192567 repeating
  9. Tony La Russa .01808
  10. Joe Torre .01567 repeating

Why is this important? It isn’t — other than demonstrating that Earl Weaver’s legendary rage is a numerically provable fact. Man was angry! But we would like to point out that Piniella hasn’t been tossed yet this season through 21 games. Statistically speaking, he’s due sooner rather than later. Come to think of it, so’s La Russa. And Piniella’s Cubs come to town to play La Russa’s Cardinals today. That’s an 8 and 9 match-up. Chances are good, but not great, that this is the weekend one of them blows his stack. If it happens, you read it here first. If Piniella and La Russa can both keep their cool, well, it’s still a Cards-against-Cubs series — somebody in the bleachers will probably get tossed before the weekend’s over.

-Paul Friswold