Mar 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Home plate umpire mark Wegner speaks with New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) during the third inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Yankees have been a part of three test games using Major League Baseball’s new and vastly expanded replay rules so far this spring. In Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, for the first time, Manager Joe Girardi decided to take MLB up on their offer of giving managers the right to challenge at least one call per game.
Though the play was close, it was clear even at full speed that Brian Roberts was out at first on a ground ball to Detroit second basemen Devon Travis. Roberts himself, if asked, would have advised Girardi not to challenge, though he did “appreciate the effort.” But because the game was in the seventh inning, Girardi had nothing to lose by using the sole challenge he is guaranteed for the game.
After the sixth inning, umpires can take it upon themselves to review close calls, or can do so at the behest of a manager. They are not, however, obliged to comply with this request if that manager has already used his first challenge and lost, or used both challenges after winning the first.
Because the game was at the point at which umpires will review any call they deem questionable on their own, Girardi was right to take the new system out for a spin. And it was apparent that he was doing just that, giving the process a test drive, which was a good idea for all involved in order to work out any kinks during spring training.
Girardi thought the process worked “great” and said it might end up saving him some money and aggravation by keeping him from being fined for arguing calls and being ejected. Let’s hope that doesn’t disappear from the game completely, however. Aside from being entertaining (even if we don’t see as many bases being flung or as much dirt being kicked as we used to), sometimes nothing fires up the troops like a good ol’ fashioned dust-up between a manager and an umpire.