During Tuesday’s spring training game against the Blue Jays, David DeJesus was thrown out at the plate. What looked like a bad play was actually just another example of why Joe Maddon should win the Manager of the Year award every year.
After Cole Figueroa bunted back to the pitcher, DeJesus sprinted past the plate and was called out by the umpire. However, when DeJesus started walking back to the dugout, somebody in the dugout urged him to go back and touch the plate (see full video below).
Why? DeJesus told the media after the game that he never touched the plate and the catcher never tagged him.
If this had been the regular season and DeJesus had not returned to touch the plate, Maddon would have lost a challenge even if replay showed the catcher missed the tag.
This is just one example of how Maddon is coaching his players to take advantage of loopholes in the new replay system.
Another example was outlined by Marc Topkin in the Tampa Bay Times. In this scenario, the Rays are on defense with runners on base and two outs.
If there is a close play at first base, fielders are being coached to still try and tag other runners even if there are already three outs. The thinking is that if the runner at first is ruled safe after a manager’s challenge, umpires may be forced to still rule the inning over if the Rays tag another runner.
The downside is that there are going to be some silly-looking scenes during Rays games this year and Maddon will be criticized for making a mockery of the game. But in reality, these odd plays will in all likelihood mean more runs for the Rays and fewer runs for other teams.
In a division where every game counts, those runs could make a difference.