The rap on David Bell, the Cincinnati Reds’ first-year manager, is that he’s actually a pretty even-keeled guy. He grew up around the game, with his father and grandfather each having played for the Reds in lengthy big league careers. He knew his way around the clubhouse and around managers after his own 12 years in the majors.
That’s what makes Bell’s first year as the Reds’ skipper that much more peculiar: He’s getting ejected a lot.
How many times, you ask? Seven times in 96 games, going into Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s once every 13.7 games. He already has set the franchise’s single-season record for managerial ejections. And that’s saying something because the Reds are celebrating their 150th anniversary this season.
He broke Clark Griffith’s record that dates from 1909, when Griffith was technically a player-manager. Home plate umpire Carlos Torres tossed Bell on Friday (shortly after tossing third baseman Eugenio Suarez) for arguing balls and strikes. And to think, Bell was ejected only seven times in a dozen years as a player.
Bell has also been variously ejected for:
- Arguing balls and strikes on behalf of Yasiel Puig.
- Hollering at an umpire over a brushback pitch that started a benches-clearing brawl.
- Arguing balls and strikes (again).
- Arguing balls and strike (again) (again).
- Arguing balls and strikes along with Puig (again) (again) (again).
- Yelling at umpires after a hit by pitch (this clip doesn’t include Bell getting tossed, but trust me, he does later).
“I haven’t looked too much into it,” Bell told the Cincinnati Enquirer of his ejections before the all-star break. “Each situation has been so different. It’s never something I set out to want to do. Obviously, you want to avoid it at all costs. Truly, each one has been different and have happened for a different reason and circumstances. You lump them together, it’s significant. Each one has its own story.”
Well, maybe Bell hasn’t looked into it, but baseball fans sure have.
Setting aside the circumstances that cause these dust-ups with umpires, the sheer number of ejections is noteworthy in the grand scheme of baseball history.
At his current pace, Bell could break the single-season record for managerial ejections that’s stood since 1905, when John McGraw managed the New York Giants to a 105-win regular season and a World Series title while getting ejected 11 times.
Hats off to Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire, too. With seven ejections, as well, he also has a chance to break that record.
But Gardenhire is on a bit of a cold streak. He hasn’t been tossed from a game since June 29. It was his 82nd career ejection, putting him five ahead of Giants skipper Bruce Bochy and 20 ahead of Pittsburgh’s Clint Hurdle.
But Gardenhire and Hurdle are in the back half of their managerial careers at age 61. Bochy announced he will retire after the 2019 season. Joe Maddon is 65 and has a reputation for trying to keep things civil with umpires. Ned Yost is 64 and has been with the Royals for a decade.
If the 46-year-old Bell keeps up his temper, in a few years, he might not have to do much work to shoot up the list of most-ejected active managers.
But in the annals of history, Bell’s recent spats with umpires are a blip in the radar. On his current pace of 11.8 ejections a year, it would take him 14 more years to catch all-time ejections leader Bobby Cox, the retired Braves manager, and 11 more years to catch McGraw (who managed for 33 years) for second place.
For now, both of their places in baseball lore look secure. The best candidates to catch them are probably managers on the relatively young side, such as the Angels’ Brad Ausmus (50 years old), Houston’s A.J. Hinch (45) or San Diego’s Andy Green (42). Problem is, the three of them combined have been ejected only 44 times.
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