What does Pere Rose think of Major League Baseball’s new instant replay review rule? What would Billy Martin have thought?
It happened Monday, March 31, 2014. During a game between the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, Major Leagues Baseballs used its instant replay rule for the first time to overturn an umpire’s on-field call. While the new rule will assist umpires in making the correct call on the field, it may also herald the passage of one of baseball’s most iconic and entertaining spectacles.
Initially called safe at first base by Umpire Greg Gibson during the sixth inning of the contest, Ryan Braun retreated to the home dugout after a review of the play. League replay officials reversed the call saying the Brave third baseman Chris Johnson’s throw to first base beat Braun to the bag. The review took less than a minute and caused only a minor interruption in the flow of the game. But in its quest for increased umpire effectiveness, what has baseball sacrificed?
This might be an opportunity to remember to of baseball’s most famous conflict between a manager and umpire.
Billy Martin and Terry Cooney Altercation
After a game in May of 1981 Billy Martin, one of baseball’s most volatile personalities, was suspended indefinitely and fined by American League president Lee MacPhail. Angered by Terry Cooney’s pitch calling, Martin charged Cooney and aggressively bumped him with his chest. The New York Times later quoted Cooney as saying, “It felt like a freight train ran into me.” It was not Martin’s first clash with an umpire. His career as player and manager is speckled with on field conflicts with umpires, as well as the players he managed.
Chaos in Cincinnati
A 1988 video of the play clearly shows that Cincinnati first baseman Nick Esasaky’s is still standing on the bag as he reaches to catch a throw from shortstop Dave Conception, but umpire Dave Palone calls the New York Mets runner safe. Red’s manager Pete Rose arrives on the scene in seconds. After Rose and Palone exchange a series of heated words, The Cincinnati manager uses his forearms to push Palone backwards. As one of the player’s moves between the two men and the camera, Rose appears to give Palone a second shove. There is a lengthy delay in the game as fans begin to throw debris onto the field. Rose will later receive a stiff 30 game suspension from Commissioner Bart Giamitti his behavior that night as well as a hefty fine.
Of course, not all baseball disputes descend to this level of chaos and violence, but the image of a manager or player standing chest-to-chest with and umpire has become an archetype with baseball fans. With the advent of the replay rule, it may disappear. Some may welcome its exactness, but others, and who can blame them, may look on it as another indication that baseball has changed just a little too much.