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Biertempfel: Expect less yelling with MLB's replay system

Rob Biertempfel
| Saturday, April 12, 2014, 8:11 p.m.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (right) argues a call with umpire Mark Carlson during the fourth inning Thursday, April 10, 2014, in Chicago.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (right) argues a call with umpire Mark Carlson during the fourth inning Thursday, April 10, 2014, in Chicago.


Instant replay never will guarantee that every call in every game will be right, but baseball can live with that. It will lead to more interruptions and slow things to even more of a crawl on many nights, but fans will adapt. And some high-definition replays will require squinty second and third looks that will spark debates, but at least that will give sports radio callers something to gab about.

Replay also will result in fewer old-fashioned rhubarbs between angry managers and defensive umpires. We'll see less of Clint Hurdle's “purple face,” that peculiar flush the Pirates manager gets when he's in a shouting match. Lloyd McClendon never again will steal first base. Billy Martin's ghost can't be happy with how the game has evolved.

“I think it has changed the landscape of the game,” Hurdle said.

Under the expanded system this season, managers are allowed to discuss a disputed play with the umpire before deciding whether to issue a challenge.

In essence, the manager is stalling for time while another team employee frantically watches replays to judge whether there is enough cause for a challenge.

The manager-umpire chats generally have been cordial. There is no need to stir up emotions.

“When you go out there, they know why you're out there,” Hurdle said, grinning.

Ejections won't entirely go away, though.

Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria was tossed from a game against the Pirates on Tuesday for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. There weren't many fireworks, though.

Renteria began grumbling out loud in the eighth inning when Cubs relievers Pedro Strop and James Russell walked three batters. In the ninth, Renteria groused again and was ejected by umpire Jeff Nelson while Renteria was standing on the top step of the dugout.

After he got the hook, Renteria went onto the field and yelled at Nelson for a minute or so. But there didn't seem to be a lot of passion to the debate, and Renteria later declined to say what exactly was discussed.

“That was between me and Jeff,” Renteria said.

Balls and strikes are not subject to replay review.

Renteria was the first manager to issue a replay challenge. He did it on Opening Day against the Pirates, and the call was upheld. After the game Tuesday, a reporter told Renteria he also was the first manager this season to be ejected.

“I don't know if that's very good, but ... OK,” Renteria said with a shrug.

The instant replay process might usher in an era of detente between managers and umpires, but there still will be occasional renewals of hostilities. Balls and strikes will remain a contentious issue. And any manager who loses his challenge could become a powder keg later in the game.

“I think what you'll see is, after you (lose) that challenge, you might see it go back to old school,” Hurdle said.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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