In the wake of Tony LaRussa's phone blunder, maybe MLB should look at making changes to get more modern.
Tony La Russa found out the hard way that even landline telephones can be unreliable and it cost him Game 5 of the World Series and his Cardinals team being down three games to two versus the Rangers.
While the Marlins were building their new ballpark, I brought up a few questions as to whether the modern-minded Jeffrey Loria would have an alternate method to install an up-to-date communication tool with the bullpens but apparently it will just be the same old-fashioned landline phone.
With that said, here are five phone-free ways to get your relievers warming up without blaming it on a dropped call, crowd noise or a 20th-century mode of communication.
Have a webcam installed in the bullpen and the dugout and have the manager turn it on to indicate he wants to warm up a certain pitcher. Judging by the hysterical video, this might get out of hand; if drinking beer in the clubhouse was going on, webcam chats between plays between the dugout and the bullpen might jokingly look like that.
While you're at it, have a closed caption so that the bullpen coach can see the name said by La Russa or any other manager in baseball.
It may be a regressing move, but how about giving a beeper to each reliever and have the managers page the reliever of their choice? It may be outdated as a regular landline phone would be, but at least it put everyone on the same page.
The managers could even throw in a side note to the reliever he wants to warm up but this method might be time-consuming and probably something better suited for the bench coach to do.
The iPad is being used quite a lot nowadays and perhaps is the best modern way of communicating with the bullpen. Have the iPad at the hands of the bench coach and when the manager wants to make a move, he takes the iPad and taps the pitcher he wants warming up and then at the bullpen, have a plasma screen (TV) so that everyone can see who the manager wants warming up.
In this scenario you could colorfully indicate the sense of urgency of warming up—from green (take your time), yellow (marginally hurry up) to Red (warm up as fast as possible).
Since relievers tend to sit most of time in the bullpen, I'd figure this might be a good method.
Give the manager a remote control with a dial of numbers and each reliever a vibrating seat (or cushion). Now along with the vibration, have it flash a light so that if the reliever is standing up, he sees he has to get warming up. The manager dials the pitcher's jersey number and this gets that particular pitcher's seat vibrating to prepare him for game action.
This particular method may be best suited for teams who have a bird as their official mascot (Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals). With all honesty, this is more of a joke but in good taste.
Train an oriole, cardinal and blue jay and have them as messenger and fly to the bullpen. It would really add symbolism but again, this method is in humor. Imagine if a bird were to make a detour or encounter a fellow bird and fly out the park.