Will 2013 be known the year the epic on-field argument died in baseball?
Major League Baseball on Thursday announced that it would expand instant replay next season, arming managers with as many as three challenges per game.
So will that translate into fewer, um, discussions between umpires and managers or players?
Not necessarily, says Evan Brunell, a freelance baseball journalist who has written for ESPN and Deadspin.
“I do think that these confrontations will continue in baseball because there will still be many plays that are not reviewable, either due to restrictions on what can be reviewed as well as a manager already using his challenge,” Brunell wrote in an email. “Braves president John Schuerholz said that 89 percent of incorrect calls made in the past will still be reviewable, so that still leaves 11 percent of calls to dispute. While it is not yet clear what will and won’t be reviewable, it is likely called balls and strikes will not be, and those make up a large section of umpire-manager confrontations.”
It does appear the strike zone won’t be subject to review, and that could aggravate managers.
“Expanded reviews could potentially lead to more arguments in non-reviewable calls,” Brunell wrote. “Managers and players may be less accepting of mistakes because of increased replay allowing for correct calls to be made. Tolerance and understanding of human error may be significantly decreased.”
Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer is in favor of expanded replay, but said he still expects players to be irked.
“Your frustration was, ‘You got it wrong,’” Scherzer said. “Now your frustration will be, ‘No, we’re going to look at instant replay.’
“All the players know how difficult the umpires’ job is. When you put us in the heat of battle, sometimes we forget about how hard it is. But I think overall, the players are going to enjoy the ability to get the calls correct.”
Even with more correct calls in 2014, there will be reason for strife. Brunell noted that NFL coaches still lose their temper in games.
“There will always be a place for umpire-manager confrontations because sometimes it is a tool used to motivate a team,” he wrote. “Even in a league such as the NFL, with exhaustive replays, there are plenty of arguments between officials and head coaches.”