Bunkered deep inside the Miami Marlins’ clubhouse, unblinking eyes glued constantly to a video monitor, sits their secret weapon. His name is Pat Shine, and when it comes to detecting umpiring mistakes few are better.
Since the inception of video replay in 2014, only the New York Yankees of the 30 major-league teams have had a higher success rate at overturning blown calls, some of which have turned potential losses into wins.
“I believe that I have a chance to help this team win,” Shine said. “And that’s one of the reasons I like it, because it’s pretty competitive.”
It was Shine who brought attention to a missed call in the ninth inning of a 2014 game against the Mariners that led to a walk-off win for the Marlins.
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And in perhaps his biggest catch of all, it was Shine who cried foul after noticing Brandon Hicks of the Giants failing to touch first base in a 2014 game in San Francisco. The umpires didn’t see it. The Marlins didn’t, either.
But Shine did, turning a double into a big out in an eventual Marlins win.
“Pat Shine won the game today,” winning pitcher Tom Koehler said at the time. “What he did was unbelievable.”
Of the 45 calls that Shine has helped to overturn for the Marlins in two-plus seasons, he said “that was the biggest one.”
On the recommendation of former manager Mike Redmond, the Marlins hired Shine before the 2014 season — the first year teams could use video replay to challenge calls.
Shine, who had been an assistant coach at the University of California-Irvine, quickly agreed to serve as the Marlins’ new video coordinator. He was put in charge of examining every single play, looking for umpiring mistakes.
“I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into,” Shine said. “But the biggest thing for me was it was an opportunity to be in the big leagues. I was part of something new in Major League Baseball, so that intrigued me.”
It gets a little monotonous. You have to stay locked in. But you tend to get a little more involved, just because you’re part of the team. And you want to win. So I kind of get amped up, and it’s easy to concentrate when you know you can help the team win.
Pat Shine, Marlins video coordinator
Shine’s job requires him to sit alone during games in front of a video monitor, one that displays anywhere from 12 to 14 different camera angles. As a result, he doesn’t miss a single pitch or play.
“It gets a little monotonous,” Shine acknowledged. “You have to stay locked in. But you tend to get a little more involved, just because you’re part of the team. And you want to win. So I kind of get amped up, and it’s easy to concentrate when you know you can help the team win.”
Since 2014, the Marlins have challenged 69 calls, which is slightly below the league average of 76 challenges per team. The Marlins’ 65 percent success rate is second only to the Yankees’ 77 percent.
But it becomes a balancing act. When a team doesn’t win a challenge, it loses the right to challenge again later in the game.
So on a bang-bang play early in the game, when the replays aren’t conclusive, does a team risk its challenge then? Or does it wait until later, hoping to overturn a call that is more obvious?
New Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he prefers taking his chances early.
“I don’t worry about the percentage of misses or wins,” Mattingly said. “It doesn’t mean anything. You never know when an out turns into runs. It could be the first inning.
“You could say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to burn my challenge in the first.’ But then you get that call and the next thing you know, you get a rally and score three or four runs. That may be your only chance.”
So Mattingly has asked Shine to be more aggressive.
“The biggest thing is getting a feel for what’s conclusive and what’s inconclusive,” Shine said. “If it’s not conclusive, it’s going to be tough to have it overturned. But there are times where you’re not really worried about if it’s going to be overturned or not. It’s still the right decision to be made to help the team win.”
▪ Tuesday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (1-3, 4.88), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (2-2, 4.08) vs. Diamondbacks RHP Rubby De La Rosa (3-3, 4.18), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.