The Replay Dance in Major League Baseball


Was he safe? Only the video guy knows. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Whether or not you like it, replay in baseball is here to stay. Like Adam Dunn, you wish it would go away. It is slow, prodding and drags down the game.

While preparing to introduce it into the game, MLB studied it thoroughly. I can only assume Rob Manfred invited Bud Selig over to his house one Sunday and they watched a bunch of NFL games. They liked how it drug on the length of football games and made their referees look like politicians being asked public policy questions (confused), and, how even when a play should so obviously be overturned, it took days, even weeks to do so. Realizing the New York Yankees would need all the help they could get to win games this year (kidding! Of course the MLB doesn’t play favorites), the powers-that-be for MLB decided to implement replay beyond deciding home runs, a use the author is in favor of. Let the chaos reign and bring a book we’re going to be here for awhile. The replay guy’s girlfriend is having an emotional crises.

The thing neither Manfred nor Selig could have ever imagined was the unintended side effect of replay is the emotional toll it is taking on MLB umpires. As one umpire noted, “It had me in tears.” Baseball umpires are used to managers running at them, wild-eyed, yelling and questioning the legitimacy of their high school diploma. “I remember, this one time, the vein in Joe Maddon’s head was throbbing so much I thought it was going to explode,” one umpire noted. “He was questioning whether or not I needed to visit an optometrist. Joe is smart. He uses big words, some of them I had to look up later.” But that same umpire noted a recent change in Maddon. “He was different. Almost casual. He came out and asked me if I wanted to dance and showed a little two-step move he’d been working on. I said, ‘Sure, but you’ll have to lead.’ Then, he stopped. I was worried I had said or did something wrong. He said, ‘Never mind’ and went back to the bench.” The replay dance took another victim.

It isn’t just Joe Maddon either. It has became a league wide epidemic. Managers are breaking umpire hearts league-wide. Why? Well, we at Rays Colored Glasses dig deep and don’t accept just any answer. Suffering the internet and checking my email and, then remembering I had an article to write, I came to conclusion that it was because of instant replay. For those of you not aware, each team employs a video man whose sole job it is to contradict the umpires–not that that is very hard, but I digress. Managers have to be creative sometimes to delay, because everyone knows computers can be cranky or the video guy could be looking at porn. An umpire who asked for anonymity noted, “Some do impressions. Others tell jokes. One–I won’t give any names–does an impression of Jean-Claude Van Damme. It’s really creepy.” Vaudeville may be dead but MLB managers are beginning to channel their inner George Burns. Joe Maddon likes to dance, some tell jokes, and it is rumored one manager has a trained seal that does an impression of George Bush.

Next time you say replay is good for baseball, spare a thought for the poor umpire. It’s bad enough that he has no fans in a stadium of thirty thousand people or that we are rubbing his nose in it when he makes a mistake. Now, managers are pretending to be their friends or thinking they are auditioning on America’s Got Talent while a video replay guy laughs at the terrible call the umpire just made.