Washington Nationals: Davey Martinez’s ejection proves managers not so important

Davey Martinez
Davey Martinez /

After manager Davey Martinez was ejected in game six of the World Series, the Washington Nationals still managed to win the game. What does this say about the importance of managers in MLB?

While arguing a controversial call that occurred in the top of the seventh inning of Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday, Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez became the first manager since Bobby Cox in 1996 to be ejected from a World Series game.

Martinez’s animated argument over a play in which Trea Turner ran into the outstretched arm of Yuli Gurriel at first base got the manager ejected after coming out to argue for a second time in the middle of the inning.

According to the Fox broadcast, Martinez and the Nationals wanted to protest the game but were unable to because the interference call is based on the discretion of an umpire.

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“The call was the fact that he interfered with Gurriel trying to catch the ball,” MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre told Ken Rosenthal. “If interference is called, it’s a judgment [call] so it’s not reviewable.”

So instead of accepting the call, and helping manage his team to a series-tying victory, Martinez vehemently argued until he was tossed from the game.

The thing is, Martinez, or most managers in baseball for that matter, are not as instrumental in their team’s success during any given game as they once were.

Since 1990, Martinez’s ejection was just the third in a World Series game, according to baseball-almanac.com. Both ejections before Tuesday were of Bobby Cox, once in ’96 and the first time in the 1992 Series.

Among the things you can control during a game, being available for the whole game is one of the most important things a player or manager can do.

In today’s analytical-driven game, however, it begs the question; how important is a manager to their team’s in-game success?

With iPads in the dugout, scouting reports under hats and endless information available to anyone in the organization; players, along with bench and position coaches, can breakdown any matchup in seconds. Which leaves a manager much less valuable than in the past.

That’s not to say a manager’s expertise is replaceable though. Martinez and his counterpart in this Series, AJ Hinch, are two of the most well-respected and knowledgeable managers in the game. But what makes them great managers is more about what they do over the course of a season and less about in-game strategy.

No longer are teams playing small-ball or bunting. They’re using the hit-and-run less and are letting their sluggers play their own way more.

Outfield alignments and defensive shifts are set by the position coaches, and the best managers will often defer to their pitching coach on when to make a change and who to bring in.

During the regular season, managers will sometimes get ejected to try to light a fire under a struggling team. But if players need that type of motivation in a World Series, they probably won’t be in this game for long.

One important thing a manager can do is make sure he’s the one getting ejected instead of one of his players, especially a star like Turner. But the fact that Martinez came out for a second argument after it seemed like the dust settled, means Turner was in no danger of being ejected.

Maybe it was a facade, but in the not so distant past managers such as Torre himself seemed to play bigger roles in the outcome of more games.

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With the ever-growing emphasis on data during games, today’s managers are less influential than at any time in the history of the game, as Washington Nationals manager Martinez proved Tuesday.