A strain that runs through much of the dimmer writing on baseball involves extolling the virtues managers who get thrown out of games, and I reluctantly join this chorus in saying that I have come to appreciate Manuel’s tendency to get tossed. I will not go as far as to say that I fault Willie Randolph for not getting thrown out of games—Willie Randolph was a reasonable man, a quality making him nearly completely unique in all of organized baseball, and understood that no greater good would be served by getting ejected. There was a lot to applaud in the understanding, implicit in Randolph’s interaction with the officials, that managerial theatrics ought to be irrelevant to the game’s outcome; something calming and dignified in his acknowledgment that the skill of pitchers and batters would determine the winner, weather Randolph watched from the clubhouse or the dugout.
To use a bad word, Manuel’s interactions with the umpires are somewhat post-modern. Manuel, I think, also knows that his getting ejected is irrelevant, and thus, to him, there is no reason not to have a good time hollering at the umpires until he gets tossed. In the finale against the Philles, after the umpires made an abysmal call on a home run, Manuel kept turning back to get last word in, long after he had been thrown out of the game-- at this point everything was irrelevant: the call had been made and Manuel had been banished, but Manuel stayed on the field, reminding us all that there is something pleasant about a man who yells against injustice, even when the yelling can be shown to have no imaginable effect.
Manuel is a self professed admirer of Gandhi, and I would like to ask him how he thinks Gandhi would handle a blown home-run call in a baseball game he was managing. I suspect that Manuel would reply that Gandhi would understand that there is a difference between the struggle for survival and freedom and the struggle of a baseball game, and that the latter exists largely as a venue for childish rages and frustrations; and that, if he were for some reason managing a baseball team, Gandhi very well might choose to scream at the umpires and use bad language and get ejected.