The first impressions of expanded replay are that it will be overall inconsequential. In most cases, a manager’s challenge will either be denied by the replay command center in New York or will have little outcome on the game.
But there are exceptions.
Nobody knows better than Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who in one game used his challenge early only to see a blown call cost his team a run later in the game, when he was out of challenges.
After the Mets’ Juan Lagares was called out trying to steal second in the ninth inning, Mets manager Terry Collins challenged and won, leading to Ike Davis’ walkoff grand slam.
Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire had to change pitchers in 30-degree weather after it took nearly five minutes for New York to rule on one of his challenges. Major League Baseball apologized, saying there was a backup of challenges that took extra time.
And the weirdest replay has been in Houston when the umpires and scoreboard operator got the count mixed up, so they replayed an entire batter to figure out the count.
Welcome to baseball 2014, where technology rules, wiping out the tradition of managers kicking dirt and going nose-to-nose with umpires. Instead, on a questionable call, managers will visit with the umpire while some one in the clubhouse looks at the replay.
That happened Wednesday night at Nationals Park. Manager Matt Williams was talking with the first base umpire waiting for bench coach Randy Knorr to give him the thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal on whether to challenge.
Umpires know what managers are doing. So what do managers talk about with the umpires during the waiting period? Williams jokes that they are talking about family, winter activities and sore ankles.
If there is no challenge, it’s, “Have a nice evening,” Williams says.
Wonder what Earl Weaver and Billy Martin would have thought about this system?
* Ask Marlins manager Mike Redmond about any improvements his pitcher, Jose Fernandez, needs to make in his second season, and he starts laughing. He takes him a few seconds to come up with an answer. “He’s so dominant with all his pitches, I don’t know,” Redmond says. “Maybe when he tries to be too perfect, he can get into trouble. But otherwise, I don’t know.”
* Aaron Barrett, who grew up in the same home town as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, grew up with Mattingly’s son, Preston. They played a lot of ball and table tennis with Don, who Barrett said was ambidextrous with the paddle. “He’d switch hands in the middle of a volley,” Barrett says.
* A couple of leftover notes from the 40th anniversary of Henry Aaron’s 715th home run. The feat was more than just about baseball. It was about social justice. Dusty Baker, the on-deck batter when Aaron hit the home run, said that when he was in high school, he prayed that he wouldn’t get drafted by the Braves because of all the turmoil in Atlanta. But Baker said that Aaron promised his mom that he’d take care of the young Dusty. “And he did,” Baker said. “To this day, Henry still asks about my mother. It was a sad day for us when he left the Braves because he did so much for us.” ... Braves reliever Tom House, who caught the historic home run in the bullpen, was in the right place at the right time: “The bullpen pitchers divided up the bullpen and the guys with the most experience got the left field pull area, but the ball went more to left-center.’‘