Lucey: Replaying volcanic eruptions from legendary managers

From SABR member Bill Lucey at The National Pastime Museum on January 19, 2015:

With the onset of instant replay in 2014, you would think the number of managers ejected from games would have reduced considerably. After all, with cutting-edge video technology, managers wouldn’t have to kick dirt in the umpire’s direction, rip up first base, or spit tobacco juice anymore; replay officials from the home office in New York would finally be able to answer their prayers.

Surprisingly, the cold hard data doesn’t bear that out. There were 91 managerial ejections in 2014, an increase from 2013 (85) and 2012 (82).

While replays, for the most part, have leveled the playing field by eliminating egregious oversights by umpires, there is still plenty of room for managers to verbally argue their case with the men in blue. The strike zone, obstruction, interference, the infield fly rule, and check swings, after all, are not reviewable.

Even before instant replay went into effect, a majority of umpires were confident more often than not that the calls they made on the field were the correct ones.

In John C. Skipper’s book Umpires: Classic Baseball Stories from the Men Who Made the Calls, former American League umpire Terry Cooney (1974–1992) observed that “instant replay [for the television viewing audience] was created to discredit umpires. What it has done is proven that we are right 95 percent of the time.”

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Originally published: January 19, 2015. Last Updated: January 19, 2015.