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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Replay hasn't reduced umpire arguments, manager ejections — just ask Tigers' Brad Ausmus

The assumption, naturally, was that the implementation of expanded instant replay would put to bed the old — and amusing — occurrence of Major League Baseball managers giving an earful to umpires, before getting ejected.

The numbers, however, have not borne out that theory.

In fact, the ejection numbers — including the second ejection of the season for Brad Ausmus Saturday evening — are up from a year ago.

“Someone said there’s actually been more ejections of managers this year than in the past,” Ausmus said last week. “I don’t know if that’s changed since that was brought up, but I was shocked by that.”

It hasn’t.

According to tracking by Umpire Ejection Fantasy League, Ausmus’ was the 134th ejection of the season, and the 60th time a manager got heaved.

On the same date in 2013, there had been 104 ejections, including 52 managers. In 2012, there were 99 total ejections, 49 of managers.

So, clearly, there’s not a correlation between replay getting more calls right, and managers arguing with umpires about missed calls.

Managers’ forays onto the field have become more civil, for the most part, and that’s fine. Often, they’re chatting with umpires while stalling for time to find out if they should or should not challenge.

“Yeah, I don’t mind it. It’s definitely more civil. It’s definitely hard to go out and start screaming at an umpire when all you have to do is say ‘Hey, take a look at it,’” Ausmus said. “You can’t generally make it personal. I can’t call the umpire a name, so to speak, a flowery name. That’s about it. You don’t want to make it personal. Or I don’t, anyway.

“Once that game is over, the general rule is it’s over. You don’t bring it back the next day, or bring it up again. Generally, you don’t go out and exchange lineup cards, and tell the home plate umpire he was awful the night before.”

Ausmus was not very civil Saturday night, when he stormed onto the field after replay overturned a call on the field in the top of the third inning. Umpire Jim Joyce — he of the infamous blown call in the Armando Galarraga near-perfect game — initially ruled that Tigers baserunner Eugenio Suarez had gotten back to first base safely on a pickoff attempt.

Replay overturned the call, purportedly showing that Suarez had been tagged out before reaching the base.

Ausmus, who came charging out of the dugout with a card in hand, appeared to be incensed that the replay had been allowed after the batter, Austin Jackson, had stepped back in the batter’s box, and Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker had stepped back on the pitching rubber.

By rule, it is not supposed to be reviewed after the next play has started, like the NFL’s version of replay.

In his postgame press conference, carried on Fox Sports Detroit, Ausmus said that Joyce had told him that the review was crew-chief-initiated (Joyce was the crew chief), meaning that the timing was irrelevant. The play, however, was not going to be reviewed until Angels manager Mike Scioscia came out on the field to question that call, so that seems a hollow argument.

"The umpires have discretion to initiate the review on their own, but clearly they didn't initiate the review," Ausmus said.

And Joyce himself told reporters that it was indeed a manager-initiated challenge (see tweets below).

Ausmus’ only other ejection as a manager — he recalls having 10 or so ejections as a player in a 19-year career — came on May 21, after star Miguel Cabrera had been tossed.

“Clearly the umpire was wrong and I was right,” Ausmus joked. “It was a check-swing call on Miguel Cabrera. Miggy started talking to the umpire (Tim Timmons), and he got tossed before I got out there.”


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