Replay helps Brian Roberts check off another Yankees first
The Yankees' 7-7 tie with the Tigers Wednesday was the team's second spring game to feature the instant replay option, and when Roberts grounded out to second base in the seventh inning, manager Joe Girardi finally utilized it - running out to challenge what was a close out at first base.
"I just went out there and said we were challenging," Girardi said of the famous words that came out of his mouth for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. "The process was quick; I thought he was out, but I wasn't sure, and I didn't want to wait for our guy to get back to me."
Review showed that the initial call was correct, but as Roberts joked in the clubhouse afterwards, his manager needn't have asked anyone but him about it.
"He didn't ask me (if it was an out); I was headed back to the dugout where I belonged," he laughed. "I would have told him I was out. I appreciate the effort, though!"
As many may remember, Roberts' famous "last" was the last out at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008, a groundout to the mound off a pretty famous closer that the new Yankees second baseman remembered with a smile.
"It was a jam shot off Mariano Rivera…just like a lot of outs off Mo," Roberts joked. "I'd made a lot of outs in my career, so I figured it was about time I made a good one. But no, I still have the bat to prove it, and it's cool to look back on."
Wednesday marked the first, but certainly not the last, instance of forced replay in a Yankees game, but if Girardi has his way, he hopefully won't have to deal with it too often.
"Really, what is there to work out? If a guy's out, he out, or if he's safe, whatever…you don't want to mess with the rhythm of a game," he said.
And, that point made, Girardi wasn't sure if he would have even tried the challenge if this were a regular-season game, citing the sections of the rule that allows the manager one challenge any time, but also gives the crew chief the power to call for a review on any play from the seventh inning on.
"In a sense, I have nothing to lose if I still have my challenge and we're through six innings. You can't store it," he said, "and for the most part, the belief is that if there's a questionable call (after the sixth), they're going to review it anyway."
But, for this spring day, it was a first step that will eventually make the game as a whole better.
"There are still some little things that have to be cleared up with some of these new rules, and that's what spring training is for," Girardi said. "It's a process that everyone's trying to go through, and the best thing that can happen is to have as many plays as possible to be challenged or thought about, so that the umpires can work with that process."
Maybe, if irony believes in the rule of three, it will even be Roberts who is on the receiving end, somehow, of the first successful challenge in Yankees history, too.