Don Mattingly explains his fury during bench-clearing incident with Dodgers

Big League Stew

An already contentious week around Major League Baseball added another chapter on Friday night when the benches cleared during the ninth inning of the Marlins-Dodgers game in Los Angeles.

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Front and center in this skirmish was Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly. The former Los Angeles Dodgers skipper was easily the angriest person on the field. He had to be restrained from going after Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren, who was also his teammate with the New York Yankees from 1988-91.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly (C) gets in the face of Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren. (MLB screen shot)
Marlins manager Don Mattingly (C) gets in the face of Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren. (MLB screen shot)

Around them, a massive, almost hurricane-like scrum developed and started spinning between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. And yes, that’s Clayton Kershaw in the eye of the storm after he avoided a similar incident with the Giants earlier this week.

It was the most intense scene in a week filled with tension. Mattingly, Geren and Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling, whose pitch behind Giancarlo Stanton led to the benches clearing, were all ejected. But it turns out not everyone was angry about the same thing.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was most annoyed that his pitcher, Stripling, had been ejected despite warnings not being issued previous to his pitch. Home plate umpire Carlos Torres believed Stripling’s pitch was in apparent retaliation for Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos hitting Brett Eibner in the ribs one inning earlier.

As for Mattingly, his frustration started mounting a couple innings earlier.

We’ll call that the first strike. We’ll then assume the pitch behind Stanton added a little more fuel to Mattingly’s fire. But it wasn’t until he was on the field and heard Geren ripping into a Marlins player that Mattingly flipped the switch.

Apparently those were fighting words, though fortunately there was no actual fighting. At least on Friday. Now we’ll see what Saturday brings.

The incident capped what had already been a miserable day for the Marlins. We learned early on that Giancarlo Stanton has reportedly grown “more frustrated than ever” with the Marlins franchise given their disappointing start to the season. Then they fell way behind on Friday night and ultimately lost 7-2. The loss was Miami’s fifth straight and dropped their overall record to 14-27.

Perhaps Mattingly’s frustration goes beyond a single swing, a single pitch, or even a few choice words from Bob Geren. It would be easy to see how. But perhaps he’s also hoping the sparks they each created and the anger he carried on the field will help light a fire under the entire team.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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