Lou Piniella turned it into performance art, getting in an umpire’s face during his finger-pointing, dirt-kicking, base-tossing arguments.
Rick Renteria will never be that entertaining, but he did put on a good show for the Cubs fans still watching late Tuesday night, becoming the first manager to get tossed this season.
“Every manager does what he feels he needs to do at a particular time,” Renteria said Wednesday at Wrigley Field. “You don’t want to go out there and try and embarrass an umpire. They’re doing a tough job. Sometimes when you’re watching a ballgame you let loose, too. And sometimes you get ejected.”
With Cubs closer Jose Veras on the mound in the ninth inning, home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson heard something from the top step of the dugout. Renteria got booted and ran out onto the field, jawing with Nelson and missing the end of a 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Renteria is already getting the daily lineup questions that Piniella grew tired of by the time he retired near the end of the 2010 season, part of the chain reaction that has seen four different managers within the last five years.
Renteria is still finding his voice in the interview room, being extremely positive, somewhat vague and non-confrontational with reporters. He seems to have a long fuse. So what sets him off?
“Any number of things,” Renteria said. “We have a lot of guys that are really working extremely hard to do their job and have a tremendously large investment in the outcome. The umpires are trying to do the best they can possibly do on a daily basis.
“We get emotional. We’re much more invested. We’re looking at the wins and losses. If I think things are going awry a little bit, you try to address them and (Tuesday) night it just happened.”
Managers shape the message by meeting with the media before and after every game. Renteria gets lots of questions about “approaches” and mechanics and philosophies. But it’s all about the talent. As in, good managers typically have good players.
Edwin Jackson appreciated Renteria’s gesture, but the $52 million pitcher understood it could have been different if he didn’t give up six runs and get knocked out in the fifth inning.
“He’s a fiery guy,” Jackson said. “He’s going to stand up for his team. He’s going to speak what he believes and he’s going to fight for the guys in the clubhouse. He sees us out there battling. But at the end of the day, if I do a better job as a starter going deeper into games and keeping the score down, he doesn’t even have to get to that point.”