It was announced several weeks ago that starting this season, Major League Baseball will institute expanded instant replay for the first time. Everything excluding balls and strikes, and the double play turn at second base, will be reviewable. Managers will also be given two challenges of which they may use within the first six innings, and can then prompt the umpire for a challenge after the 7th inning.
Just like in the NFL, if a manager challenges a play, and the umpire sees that their original call was correct, the manager will be docked a challenge. If the manager is right, they get to keep it. So now how exactly will managers use this newly given “power?” Let’s take a look specifically at Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees have been the victim of some pretty bad calls during Girardi’s tenure. Most notably late in the 2012 season, against the Baltimore Orioles when Mark Teixeira was called out to end the game attempting to slide into first base, which if he had been called safe, would’ve scored the tying run. After looking at the replay, it was clear the umpire had gotten it wrong. It was a call that could’ve lost the Yankees the division crown that year.
There is no way anything like that will be happening anymore. There is no doubt right now, Joe Girardi, along with every other manager in baseball, is studying how to efficiently and effectively use their challenges. The key thing that Girardi and every other manager will have to do will be to not second guess themselves. If Girardi feels that the umpire blew a call, even if it’s as early as the first inning, he must use his challenge. Girardi may also want to use as many challenges as possible early in the season. Why is this? Because it’s almost like the leadoff hitter “taking a pitch” to start the game. You’d be getting a feel for the new system, and seeing how it would be perceived by opposing managers and players.
One thing I know I would also like to see in the future would be MLB provide managers with actual challenge flags, like in the NFL. As of right now, in order to initiate a review, a manager must inform the umpire of his intention verbally and in a ‘timely manner.’ While it may never be the same as a manager arguing with an ump, providing them with challenge flags to heave, could add an extra amount of excitement and drama to the game. While there’s no telling as of right now exactly how well this process will work, there’s no doubt it will certainly provide all managers with an opportunity to give their team an advantage, and will also make sure that the correct calls are made more often than ever before.
In a recent article written by Adam Berry of MLB.com, Girardi and his staff after being briefed on the new replay system by former Yankees’ skipper and current MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre, Girardi stated that he and his staff with use spring training to learn the ins and outs of the new system, and try out some strategies, so they feel comfortable and ready to use the new program once the regular season rolls around.