Brett Gardner has been a big talk of the Yankees lately, but not because of his play, it’s because of his outbursts in the dugout. During a game in early June, Gardner hit a rocket off his bat, but right at the second baseman for an out. Needing to take out some of his frustration, he threw his helmet at the dugout wall. I guess the helmet didn’t take much liking to that because it came back at him and drilled him in the lip. Gardy was all busted open and actually needed six stitches in his lower lip after his tantrum. From then on, he learned not to throw his equipment anymore, he decided to do something different: bang his bat on the ceiling of the dugout so it can’t hurt anyone.
He has done it three or four times now, and it’s pretty amusing to most, but not to the umpires. They took a disliking to it when Gardy smashed his bat on the dugout on Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. He was promptly ejected, but did he break any rules?
According to rule 6.04 (E), it states: “When the occupants of a player’s bench show violent disapproval of an umpire’s decision, the umpire shall first give warning that such disapproval shall cease.” It goes on by saying, “If such action continues, the umpire shall order the offenders from the bench to the club house.”
Now, let’s break that down using the incident on Saturday. It all started when Cameron Maybin was called out on a pitch that he did not believe was a strike. He had a couple of words for the home plate umpire, which is something he doesn’t do very often. Home plate ump, Ben May, then stared into the Yankees’ dugout for quite some time. That caused Aaron Boone to tell him to stop looking at them, leading May to toss him for that.
While Boone was arguing, Gardner started banging his bat on the ceiling. First base ump, Phil Cuzzi ran over to the railing and threw Gardy out, as well. Referencing the aforementioned rule, Cuzzi would have had to think that was “violent disapproval” of an umpire’s decision in order to kick him out of the ballgame. That’s questionable. If you want to talk about “violent disapproval” by a player, look back to 2013 when David Ortiz smashed the dugout phone in Camden Yards after disagreeing on a strike call. He put his teammates, and himself in danger with that act. Ortiz’s freak-out was clearly not on the same level as Gardner’s, yet they were both ejected for the same reason.
To add onto that, Gardner was not issued a warning to stop the action, therefore, Cuzzi skipped a step in the rule. During the postgame, Brett said, “Nobody has told me I can’t do that, nobody has told me that I can’t make noise.” Aaron Boone also followed up by saying that there has been no communication from the league office that banging your bat isn’t allowed. Gardy also believes they were looking for it that day and wanted to throw him out.
There has been a movement by Major League Baseball to “let the kids play.” Shouldn’t players be allowed to show emotion in the dugout if you want them to play with fire? The league likes bat-flips and pitchers yelling after big strikeouts. It’s pure emotion. If you want to let the kids play, then prove it. Banging a bat is really not that much different from slamming a helmet or flinging a glove around. We’ve seen players punch water coolers in frustration and not get the boot.
The Yankees are trying to make light of this whole situation, though. Like the “thumbs down” in 2017, mimicking Gardner’s bat banging may be a rallying call for the rest of the 2019 season. Aaron Judge did it in support of his teammate Sunday and said that we’ll be seeing a lot more of that.