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Scott Servais, Lloyd McClendon, and the art of the ejection

Have the Mariners made their first big mistake of the Dipoto era?

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With last week's hiring of Scott Servais as the Manager of the Seattle Mariners, the franchise has continued its move away from the influence of the Zduriencik regime and towards a new, seemingly efficient, top down and to the very bottom, Dipoto-led machine. Will it work? Was it the right hire? Will he have the clubhouse? Will Brad Miller be able to freely grow out his beautiful golden brown locks this time?

I do not have the answers to any of these questions. Nobody does. What we do know, itself, even turns to the realm of the hypothetical: it seems like Servais isn't going to be the kind of manager to sit Nelson Cruz because he is 0-4 against some random starting pitcher. It seems like he isn't going to be beholden to bullpen roles and arbitrary inning designations. It seems like he will be more open to including analytics in his day-by-day decisions in the dugout.

But the important question of what a baseball manager actually does still remains on the table. Aside from setting the lineup card, pulling pitchers, and deciding when to bunt or challenge, the game seems to me to be largely in the hands of both chance and the players controlling the variables on the field. And it is with this in mind that I make the following very serious and not at all hyperbolic claims:

  1. The most important part of a baseball manager's job is to entertain the crowd.
  2. The easiest way to entertain the crowd is to throw hugely performative tantrums at the umpires when your team is getting kicked around the playground.
  3. Lloyd McClendon, in this, is the aesthetic ideal.
  4. Unless Scott Servais gets down into the clubhouse to watch some tape, he is going to fall, fall so fast from the sky with his wings ablaze after trying to touch the post-McClendon sun sitting in the sky for all to see.
It's not hard to see that I am a) absolutely right and that b) no, you can't argue with me. Sure, sure you are saying. You're looking forward to having a manager actually keep Mark Trumbo's glove sitting in the dugout gathering dust when he isn't at first base. I get that. But you're wrong, because of this:

This is probably the most boring ejection of Lloyd McClendon's career, coming in an extremely boring game which saw the Mariners go up early and go up fast against an extremely boring White Sox team. I mean, keep in mind that this game featured a good young Mariners team in the middle of their most exciting season in over a decade, and listen to how checked out Dave Sims and Jay Buhner are in the booth. And yet, Lloyd is there to provide something, anything to keep the narrative spectacle piqued--it's the least he could do. This, my friends, is Level One. A base requirement for any manager to perform on any given day.

But the true majesty of Lloyd McClendon does not stop at Level One. No, Lloyd McClendon has a few pieces which need to be framed, shipped to Paris, restored, and hung up in the fucking Louvre for all to see:

I'm not even going to talk about the base-stealing bit from Pittsburgh back in the mid-aughts. This right here should be the defining image of baseball, rehabilitating itself after the steroid scandal. Lloyd, raging, blood veins bulging, hat in flight. I mean look at this random fan, who only moments before had been frustrated when Felix Hernandez was ejected for the first time in his life before watching John Buck strike out looking in a losing baseball game:


Do you understand the significance of this action? Do you? Do you, Scott Servais, understand how important this day was? May 14th, the year of our lord Two-Thousand-and-Fourteen? No? Ok let me just show you something:


look closer



much, much, closer:


This, my friends, is Level Two. This goes far above and beyond the expected duty of a manager and towards that ever-elusive, capital-G Greatness we all strive for. Which is especially great, because Lloyd McClendon did not stop at Level Two. No. Lloyd McClendon often went to Level Three.

This is a video of Lloyd McClendon getting tossed from a baseball game for doing nothing.

In his second consecutive game.

This is some second-level stuff. No, third level. Are you taking notes, Mr. Servais? Are you fitting this all in down in your notebook next to the xFIPS and your defensive shifts and the junk all in there against pitcher wins? Huh? Are you? Well you had better keep paying attention, because Lloyd McClendon not only took it to level three, he took it to Level Four:

This is the gold standard against which all future ejections should be measured. I'll let Meg explain this in better detail, but for the sake of argument here let's tally: first base umpire, hat toss, hat kick, crew chief at home, third base umpire, goofy little pretend swing thing so the fans knew what he was referring to, base kick, slow trot, and finally this image, which should be iconicized alongside the hat toss as one of the most important images from Western modernity:

art book

So before you all get excited about Mr. Servais and his "opportunities," I hope you realize that the Mariners just dismissed perhaps one of the greatest managers in all of baseball history, just for a chance to "win games," or to "streamline the organization" or some crap like that. I don't buy it. That's not what truly matters.

So welcome to the 21st Century, Seattle Mariners. I only hope you don't forget where you came from in the process.