Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi won his first challenge Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. Girardi was able to have a call overturned in the bottom of the third inning that involved an attempted steal by Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks. It appeared that Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli‘s throw to second beat Hicks, but the umpire called Hicks safe. Girardi used the new challenge system to appeal the play.
Many managers do not know what to expect from this new challenge system. With all of the technology that each ballpark has, it will be interesting to see how these challenges can affect the outcome of games. However, there is a certain catch to this new review that managers and organizations must take advantage of. Girardi did exactly what all managers should do this upcoming season in order for the new challenge system to work.
On Saturday, Girardi slowly walked out to argue the call. This gave time to Brett Weber, the Yankees baseball operations assistant, time to review the play. Weber relayed via walkie-talkie to bench coach Tony Pena who then relayed to Joe Girardi to challenge the play. Girardi spoke of the system by saying, “I haven’t lost faith in the system. I think it’s going to work good.”
All of this however, puts a lot of responsibility on Brett Weber. If he is wrong, the blame goes directly to him. He must keep a close eye on each play via replay monitor. So should someone like Weber be put in charge of this duty? Remember in 2011, Weber was accused of cheating by a reporter who took a picture of Weber relaying the opposing pitcher’s pitches to the on-deck hitter.
It is scary to give someone this amount of responsibility and power when he has been accused of cheating before. This responsibility as well could help decide then outcome of a game. So should Yankee fans be a little on edge about this? Yes. In the end though, it is the manager’s decision to even argue the call let alone challenge it because he is down on the field.
This was Girardi’s first win, but not his first challenge. Remember, Girardi lost a challenge on March 12th after arguing a call on a ground ball involving Brian Roberts. The challenge will help and hurt many teams this year. Look back at times in history when the challenge would have come in handy for teams. For instance, Derek Jeter‘s home run against the Orioles in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS. That scenario was clearly fan interference. If the challenge was instituted then, that game might have ended differently maybe even the entire series.
Yankee fans are lucky to have a solid manager like Joe Girardi who has great judgement. This will allow the new challenge system to thrive in New York. Girardi spoke of his challenge win by saying, “You’ve got a chance. It feels pretty good, actually. No one wants to be wrong.” Hopefully Girardi’s challenge record will be equivalent to the Yankees overall record, over .500!