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Dave Martinez’s Base-Stealing Meltdown Was Almost Perfect

Screenshot: Marquee

Between LeBron’s game-winning three pointer, the double-overtime Bruins playoff win, and a no-hitter by Corey Kluber, Wednesday night was packed with some good sports moments. It’s quite possible that with all these important games going on, you missed the very best action of the night: a manager meltdown!

In the seventh inning of the third game in a four-game series between the Nationals and Cubs, Nationals manager Dave Martinez lost it when shortstop Trea Turner was called out for running inside the baseline following a dropped third strike. Martinez seemed set on getting ejected, but also on doing something that would unquestionably win his fight on the way out. Something better than spitting, throwing dirt, pointing in the umpire’s face, or kicking a hat across the field. So he reached down and ripped first base out of the Wrigley Field dirt it so comfortably rested on. 

This wasn’t the first time Martinez had reacted this way to a similar call, but he hadn’t grabbed a base during his first tantrum. The Nationals manager gets style points for his base slam, and for having pretty good aim with his I don’t give a shit kick across the body. I would have preferred to see a frisbee-style base toss, or a Lou Piniella double-toss, but I will accept this chip shot. 

It’s Martinez’s base removal technique that leaves me wanting more. It takes him two seconds to get it out of the ground, but it feels longer than that, given the tension in the moment. I’ve been told that pulling a base out of the ground requires a two-part technique. First, a wiggle to loosen the base and then a hard pull to remove it. It looks like Martinez’s anger complicates his efficiency here, and his base rip ultimately pales in comparison to what we've seen from Lloyd McClendon, the man whose name is synonymous with this argument-ender. Back in ‘01, McClendon had no problem tearing the base out of the ground, connecting the twist and pull into one smooth motion. And the way he calmly tucked it under his arm and trotted off. So petty! Martinez was so close to a 10/10 meltdown here, all he had to do was grab the base on his way out. Instead, the Cubs crowd chanted "MVP!" when the grounds crew worker came out to restore the base.

So Davey, thank you for the entertainment, but next time, if you’re going to steal a base, at least take it with you. 

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