Ejection Levels Shed Bad Light On Baseball

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

The total number of ejections during NCAA baseball games is now bordering on the ridiculous.

According to George Drouches, NCAA National Coordinator of Umpires, the total number of ejections has gone up each of the past four years with 90 percent directly related to profanity, according to ejection reports he has received.

Incredibly, total ejections have gone up by 200 since 2015.

Here are the dismal year-by-year numbers:

  • 2018: 858 total ejections.
  • 2017: 708 total ejections.
  • 2016: 692 total ejections.
  • 2015: 658 total ejections.

The biggest 1-year jump was 2017-2018 with 150 more ejections.

What shocks us at Collegiate Baseball is that coaches continue to be tossed at a record pace despite receiving a mandatory warning from umpires now.

Popular causes for ejections include ball/strike, safe/out and fair/foul — with ball/strike as the main cause of being tossed.

If that wasn’t enough, Drouches said that over the past two seasons, 65 fight ejections have been handed down by umpires in NCAA Divisions I, II and III baseball games.

In 2018, 35 took place while 30 occurred in 2017.

We have no problems with coaches arguing with umpires over blown calls. But we feel it should be done in a civilized manner without dropping expletives every other word and getting in the face of umpires.

We have rarely met an umpire who didn’t love the game of baseball and did his job to the best of his ability. Many are former baseball players who love the sport.

Respect is a word that is sorely needed in the game with coach/umpire relations. And it goes both ways.

At the core of many ejections are ball/strike calls. This can be solved by having the entire strike zone called with consistency which is defined in the NCAA Baseball Rule book and has a graphic as well showing what to call.

Yet so many umpires have their own unique zone. Some have peanut size strike zones which frustrates pitching coaches, pitchers and catchers. Then you have the other extreme with extra wide zones that cause the blood to boil with hitting coaches and hitters.

That is why consistently calling one, defined strike zone should be mandatory in the game. If an umpire doesn’t care to do this, he shouldn’t be working.

The best umpire we have ever seen was the late Bud Grainger of Tucson, Ariz. He spent the vast majority of his life umpiring baseball games on the NCAA Division I level. He hustled after foul balls that were within 10-15 feet of him.

He never baited a coach into a verbal fight when he blew a call. Instead, he would admit that he made a mistake which shocked more than one coach during his career. The typical response from a coach was for him to be better next time. The argument was over.

The art of defusing potential ejections should be a part of what umpires learn.

Because of this climate in the game, a powerful addition to the Fight Rule by the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee was proposed and later put on hold by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel this summer. All of college baseball should strive to lower the ejection numbers we currently have.

This article appeared in the Oct. 5, 2018 edition of Collegiate Baseball. To purchase the entire issue or subscribe, CLICK HERE.