While initially considering the ramifications of instant replay, I was ambivalent. A few minutes here and there to get a play right on absolutes like home runs or tags at first base are fine by me. I worried about the slippery slope of technology replacing the game as I know it, instead of enhancing the game-i.e. the surely inevitable electronic strike zone-but for the moment I was not going to overanalyze it.
Then I realized that Instant Replay will dramatically affect manager ejections.
I love Bobby Cox. I wish he had one more ejection in his career to make a full season's worth of ejections (total is 158 regular, 3 post season). The all time ejections leader being one of the all time most respected managers is obviously not a verified corollary, but it is a consideration. If there is to be one immediate casualty from instant replay it is the managing of the umpires by the skipper. There will be no more defending your player, because now there is an objective method to either enforce or educate on who is right to both ump and player.
Surely there will still be arguments with umps, but likely as a delay tactic while a team employee checks the video replay to see whether the call should be challenged. But how hollow will the antics be when, 2 minutes in, no one has given the "secret signal" to make the challenge? We know the manager is wrong (unchanged from a t.v. viewing perspective) but now we know he knows he is wrong as well.
Drawing from the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League website, the number of ejections* since 2008 are
- 2013 - 180
- 2012 - 179
- 2011 - 199
- 2010 - 204
- 2009 - 165
- 2008 - 208
That averages to 189 ejections a year. I am putting fake money (no not bitcoins) on ejections being less than 175, and would put real money on ejections being below the average. What do y'all think?
*ejections for American League games were unfortunately included, even though that sport does not involve any repercussions from a manager's ejection, as AL managers have no decisions to make during the game.