Nothing is going right for the New York Yankees. And now the umpires are out to get them.
That’s how manager Aaron Boone said he feels after he was ejected without getting a chance to challenge with video replay in a 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night. New York dropped to 9-13 overall; only four teams have a worse record.
After a wild play, in which Aaron Judge made the final out of the eighth inning at third base before DJ LeMahieu could cross home, the Yankees took too long to challenge the calls, in the view of crew chief Greg Gibson. When Boone emerged from the dugout to notify umpires of his intent, Gibson signaled that it was too late. Boone, becoming animated as he advanced toward Gibson, used some magic words and was ejected.
Boone said he considered Gibson’s actions to be inappropriate, even amounting to “bullying.” That’s the word Boone used: “It was too quick and I just felt like it was kind of bullying, frankly.”
People are going to roll their eyes at “bullying,” but anyone who’s watched baseball games for a significant amount of time knows that umpires on occasion bully players and managers, and have since MLB was born. It works the other way, too. There’s a lot of testosterone flowing out there and sometimes the men will act like babies.
The rules say a manager has 20 seconds to make a challenge. When the clock actually starts ticking, that is up to the crew chief. There was a lot for Boone and his staff to check on the play: Gio Urshela singled to left field with the bases loaded, scoring Giancarlo Stanton. Austin Hays made a killer throw to Maikel Franco at third base in time to get Judge for the third out before LeMahieu could score, umpires said. Replay officials would have needed to review the action at third base, and home, and the timing of it all.
Boone added in his postgame interview that he didn’t think the Yankees would have won a challenge anyway, but it all depends on what the replay officials in New York see. Sometimes they see … things. It certainly was worth it to challenge.
An informal review of the play by Bally Sports shows that Boone took about 30 seconds to notify the umpires of his intent to challenge. Too long. Tighten it up. Do umpires give leeway on the time? Of course they do — sometimes. Did Gibson actually bully Boone, or was he just enforcing the rules and backing up umpire Rob Drake at third base and umpire Will Little at home plate? Or is it “yes” to all of the above?
No matter, it’s been a real one for Boone this season. The Yankees are playing as poorly as their 9-13 record would indicate. They’re not scoring runs, or even putting themselves in position to score. Their starting pitching has been weak and short. And now the umps appear to be ganging up on the Bronx Bummers.
Boone’s assertion that the umpires are being unfair won’t draw much sympathy from the public and other umpires, but it won’t matter. The Yankees will have to pick themselves up. No one is going to give them a hand.