Yanks Manager Says Umps Are Screwing Up a New MLB Rule You Haven’t Even Heard About

There's a new rule about replay you probably don't know about, and questions about how much the umps understand it as well

Aaron Boone #17 of the New York Yankees argues a review call with home plate umpires Chris Guccione #68, right, and Larry Vanover #27 after being ejected from the game during the first inning at Progressive Field on April 12, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Aaron Boone got his money's worth with the umpires yesterday in Cleveland
Photo by Ron Schwane / Getty Images

Another week gone by in MLB’s 2023 regular season, and another new rule screwed up by umpires — possibly.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected from a game against the Guardians yesterday in Cleveland over what he perceived as an umpiring crew mega-gaffe connected to the league’s new, under-reported replay rule.

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“Under MLB’s new pace of play rules, managers need to hold up their hands immediately after a play to signal to the umpires that they’re thinking about challenging,” wrote The Athletic, which acknowledged in an earlier article that the replay change wasn’t discussed much, due to the glut of new MLB rules, especially the pitch clock. “Once their hand goes up this year, the umpire starts a 15-second replay clock. But if the manager wants to challenge, he has to decide before the clock hits zero. Once the timer reaches zero, all challenge requests will be denied.”

Prior to this season, managers had 10 seconds to decide whether to even show a replay request signal. As The Athletic noted, however, it was rarely enforced, which may have led to yesterday’s perceived snafu.

With one out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the first inning during the game, Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks charged a blooper off the bat of the Guardians’ Josh Naylor. After a slide, umpires ruled that Hicks caught the fly ball and then proceeded to complete an inning-ending double play by throwing to second base before runner José Ramirez, who had not tagged up on the play, could retreat in time.

Both teams cleared the field, but the umpires eventually consulted video replay for confirmation.

“After the broadcast returned from commercial break, it seemed as if Cleveland had been awarded a challenge, though far longer than the allowed 15 seconds had passed,” wrote Audacy.com.

It appeared to Boone the umpires reverted to the gray-area amount of time they could give the Guardians to ask for a replay review. He also believed the umpires were influenced by the home team crowd’s reaction to the call, which as it turned out was made incorrectly. The umpires, thus, “bailed out” Guardians manager Terry Francona, Boone said, by giving him the option to ask for a replay seemingly far after the allotted, post-play 15 seconds had expired.

“You could feel the emotion in the building,” Boone said after the game, which the Yankees won, even after going down 2-0 when the bottom of the first inning resumed. “[Cleveland] didn’t challenge, and they weren’t ready to challenge; the umpires, I feel like on the emotion of the crowd, got together sorted it out, and gave [Cleveland] that opportunity, which I felt like was wrong.”

He felt so strongly he left the dugout, count ’em, four times to argue with the umpires. Three of those instances came after he was ejected from the game.

By the time the game was over, Boone, who admitted the umpires eventually got the call correct, had already called the league office to discuss the incident.

“The answer I’ve gotten from Major League Baseball is that they did it the right way,” he said. “And if you were here, no chance.”

Rarely do you see a player, coach or manager in pro sports go off like Boone did yesterday if they weren’t absolutely certain a miscarriage of justice had occurred. Sometimes they’ll throw their hands up to protest a perceived missed call, sure, but usually after a beat they sheepishly walk away. And there’s a chance Boone will be fined by the league for criticizing the umps in such a way during his post-game remarks, a fairly common MLB practice. That didn’t stop him from lashing out against them, though.

The start of the MLB season has seen some hiccups with new-rule enforcement, including an Opening Day mistake when umpires charged a strike to the count of New York Mets hitter Jeff McNeil because his teammate, Pete Alonso, took what the officials deemed an inordinate amount of time to return to first. The next day, however, it was revealed that ruling was incorrectly administered. Some players have also called for changes to the pace-of-play rules, saying the pitch clock is too short.

The adventures in umpiring didn’t end after the first inning in Cleveland either. The game’s second base umpire, 67-year-old Larry Vanover, was struck in the head by a relay throw from the Guardians’ Andrés Giménez, who wheeled and fired toward the plate after grabbing a toss from the outfield.

“Following New York’s 4-3 win, plate umpire Chris Guccione told a pool reporter that Vanover had ‘a pretty good-sized knot’ on his head and he was going to undergo a CT (imaging) scan,” wrote the Associated Press.

“They’re going to do a concussion test and it sounded like he was coherent and that he knew kind of what was going on,” Guccione said. “But he did have that glazed look on him. He’s going to be at the hospital for the rest of the night maybe.”

You really gotta have thick skin — and a thick skull — to be an MLB umpire.

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