BALTIMORE – It was badly done all the way around.
By Aaron Boone. By the umpires. By Aaron Judge.
Mostly the latter, who short-circuited a Yankees’ rally in Monday night’s 4-2 loss to the Orioles by making the third out of the eighth inning at third base, attempting to stretch after Gio Urshela’s line-drive single to left appeared to bring in two runs that would have cut the Yankees’ deficit to 4-3.
But plate umpire Will Little ruled that Judge, on a bang-bang play, was tagged out at third before DJ LeMahieu touched home plate, thus wiping out the second run and keeping the score 4-2.
By rule, a manager has 20 seconds to decide whether to challenge and Boone, according to the umpires, took longer than that to signal a challenge for either play (it was not certain in real time if Judge beat the throw to third).
First-base umpire and crew chief Greg Gibson came in from his position to forcefully tell Boone not to come out of the dugout, which he did, leading to Boone’s 12th ejection since taking over as manager in 2018.
"It was too quick,’’ Boone said of the 20 seconds, a rule that is not always strictly enforced.
Additionally, various replays show that just about 20 seconds on the nose passed between the time of the out call at third and Boone’s signal to challenge.
Boone, who acknowledged afterward both calls likely would not have been overturned, making much of the controversy moot, added of Gibson’s approach coming down the first-base line: "I just kind of felt like it was kind of bullying, frankly."
It was something Boone discussed Tuesday in a conversation he initiated with Michael Hill, the former Marlins president now an MLB vice-president of onfield operations.
"I don’t want to get into it too much, I just wanted to share my side of things," Boone said. "It was a good conversation."
Boone has somewhat of a bullying reputation among veteran umpires for his treatment at times of younger umpires, especially those working as call-ups from the minor leagues. The most prominent example of that was Boone’s "savages in the box" tirade at call-up Brennan Miller, who was working the plate on a July, 18, 2019 game against the Rays at the Stadium. It further endeared Boone to his players and a segment of the fan base – for a time – but didn’t do him any favors with umpires.
Regardless, the mistakes made across the board Monday were myriad, beginning with Judge, who had doubled in the Yankees’ first run of the game and reached base in the eighth on a walk.
"Have to play a little smarter baseball there," Judge said. "You don’t want to end an inning like that, especially when you have a team on the ropes."
Still, as pointed out, Gibson appeared to pull the plug prematurely on the Yankees’ opportunity to challenge. But Boone, instead of waiting for word from his replay coordinator, Brett Weber, who consistently has one of the higher success rates when it comes to challenges, simply could have right away signaled his intent to challenge either element of the play because of its obvious importance.
Which was Boone’s overall conclusion a day later.
"The bottom line is, at that point in the game, in the eighth inning, I shouldn’t have let it [the 20-second clock] gotten down to that point. I should have done it [challenge] almost immediately," Boone said. "I don’t think it overturns it, but at that point in the game, I should be more aggressive with that."