Planning an ejection to fire up the teamBy
In the sixth inning last night, Joe Girardi found himself arguing with the first base umpire over an obviously bad call. Brett Gardner, the Yanks’ first man to reach base, was called out on a pick-off attempt at first even though the replays showed him safe. Girardi went out there and argued until he could argue no more.
For the Yanks’ manager, though, it wasn’t your typical argument. He wasn’t fired up, Lou Piniella style, and he didn’t seem to say any of the magic four-letter words that lead to an ejection. Rather, as Tom Rock noted in the Newsday game recap, Girardi wanted to get thrown out. Writes Rock:
First base umpire Bill Welke appeared to ask Girardi if he wanted to be tossed after a long debate that apparently lacked any significant four-letter words. Girardi nodded and was given the hook he searched for. “Yeah, but no comment,” he said of his desire to leave, smiling…
“Maybe it helped a little,” Cervelli said of the ejection that – along with the hitting – seemed to fire up the whole team. It was the first run in 14 innings in Atlanta and by the time Rivera was at bat in the ninth there were plenty of smiles on the top step of the dugout.
Now, I’ve never been one to believe that an ejection can do much to fire up a team. After all, the players are going to go to the plate and attempt to get on base no matter what happens with the manager. It seems more like a convenient excuse for a better performance than it is a real reason for a victory.
Intrigued by the rhetoric though, Richard Iurilli, a RAB regular, ran the numbers. He looked at how the Yanks hit before Girardi was ejected and how they hit after in the four games from which Girardi has been tossed. The numbers please:
|5/22/2008||BAL||W||9th||7-31, 0-1 RISP||1-1, 1-1 RISP|
|7/6/2008||BOS||W||6th||1-17, 0-0 RISP||8-18, 3-6 RISP|
|5/4/2009||BOS||L||5th||3-17, 0-2 RISP||6-19, 0-5 RISP|
|6/24/2009||ATL||W||6th||0-15, 0-0 RISP||10-20, 2-9 RISP|
|Totals||3-1||11-80 (.138), 0-3 RISP||25-58 (.431), 6-21 RISP|
There you have it. Irrevocable proof that by getting ejected, Joe Girardi fires up the Yankees. They hit for higher average and with more patience and more power when Girardi finds himself taking an early shower. He should do it more often.
OK, OK. Maybe it’s not that simple. Clearly, these numbers focus on about 14 innings worth of baseball, and we can’t really derive anything from such a small sample. Plenty of other factors play into it as well. For the most part, I can’t really believe that an ejection would have any impact on the team’s hitting. This is one of the clear examples of a correlation that does not imply causation. And there you go.