Rewarding Bad Behavior

August 12, 2013

A weapon every manager should keep up his sleeve: a well-timed tantrum

Back on May 7, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon got tossed from a 6--4 loss to Toronto that dropped the Rays to 14--18. The next night Tampa Bay beat the Jays 10--4, and Maddon got run again. Since that double whammy, the Rays have gone an MLB-best 51--27 and are back in the thick of the AL East race.

The idea that a manager getting run can spark his team is nothing new. But is there anything to it empirically?

Yes. Last year a manager was tossed from a game 80 times. The expected winning percentage for those teams in any one game was .494. (Managers of bad teams are slightly more likely to get thrown out.). But in the games immediately following a managerial ejection, teams won at a .550 clip. There was a lingering effect as well: Over the five games after a tossing, teams had a winning percentage of .509—as opposed to an expected .493. The most inspiring skippers: Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves were 9--1 following his two ejections, and Maddon, whose Rays were 14--6 after his four early showers. (In both cases that's a little over three more wins than were expected.)

In fact, many of the top meltdowns in history preceded strong upturns in performance. After Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman used a rosin bag as a hand grenade in 2007, arguably the greatest managerial tantrum ever, his team won six of seven. The moral: When in doubt, get thrown out.

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE

Cowboys safety Barry Church missed a practice because he had to have a root canal on a tooth he chipped while eating a Jolly Rancher.

PHOTOELAINE THOMPSON/AP (PINIELLA)THE KICK IS GOOD! In the five-game stretches after Lou Piniella booted his hat or threw a base, his teams won at a .640 clip. PHOTOANDREW WEBER/USA TODAY SPORTS (CHURCH)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)