Categorize this under “Deep Thoughts,” but it occurred to me a bit ago that the managers won’t really be the ones “empowered” — to use John Schuerholz’s word — under the proposed manager challenge replay system. In fact, they’re bound to be more pressured by it than empowered. It will be the players running it, actually.
How many times do you see this happen: close play, maybe a tag play or something. The player who has the call go against him, be it the base runner or the fielder, reacts immediately. He was right there and he knows he got boned on the call. He pleads for a minute. Sometimes that’s the end of it. Often times — maybe most of the time — the manager runs out onto the field to take over the argument.
Won’t that dictate when replay challenges are used? When the player pleads with the manager or is animated in his reaction at the wrong call? How does a manager go to the press after a game and answer the “why didn’t you go challenge the play your shortstop was arguing about?” question? How does he avoid having players feel undermined or not supported by their manager? Answer: he can’t. He has to challenge those plays whether he really saw some injustice or not. And he likely didn’t see it as good anyway, so why not give the benefit of the doubt to the guy on the field.
So let’s not call it a manager challenge. It’ll be, in practice, a player challenge, with managers feeling pressured and obligated into having their players’ backs. Just like most manager-umpire arguments now.