Aug 15

Upon Further Review, Instant Replay Still Has Gaps

It is a start. That’s where we can begin to analyze Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format, which now includes giving managers up to three video challenges per game, with the final decision rendered in the MLB offices in New York.

Theoretically, this would eliminate the hat-flinging, dirt-kicking, bat-and-base throwing tantrums that elevated Earl Weaver and Billy Martin to folk status. I will miss those. Go ahead, Google Earl Weaver umpire fights, especially those with Ron Luciano.

There’s some good to the new system, but several shortcomings must be mentioned:

NUMBER OF CHALLENGES

The system calls for only one challenge through the first six innings and two for the remainder of the game, regardless of how long it goes. It was said on one radio call-in show this afternoon the intent is to speed the game along, which should never be the primary reason for anything. The primary goal should always be to get it right.

Why not allow one challenge every three innings, regardless of how long the game lasts? There’s a sense of proportion that way.

Technically, to allow for full integrity to the process, replay challenges should be unlimited, because getting it right is the only true goal. However, in leaving unlimited replays on the table, all it would take is one ANGRY manager to challenge every play.

WHAT IS REVIEWABLE AND WHAT IS NOT?

As of now nothing changed, just home runs. Balls and strikes will never be under challenge, but so many types of plays should be reviewable.

Unlike football, where the action can happen anytime and anywhere on the field, that isn’t the case with baseball. So much of what happens on a baseball field does so at a fixed location, such as the foul lines, bases and home plate and the fences. Even trapped balls in the outfield would seem easier than football, because there’s rarely an obstructed view.

Why not include everything but balls and strikes? Get it right, so there will never be another travesty as the botched infield fly rule play in Atlanta during the NLDS?

Major League Baseball, if it wanted, could readily identify where most of the contested plays are, and why. MLB has stats on everything and can pinpoint what plays created the most disputes, and getting back to the innings issue, where they occurred in the game. That’s why keying the bulk of the challenges in the last three innings is a misnomer.

What the makers of this rule don’t get is things can explode any time.

THE UMPIRE ISSUE

This gets us to the umpires, whose union had to be on board for this to happen. Hopefully, this format will diffuse many of the player-umpire confrontations.

I’ve always maintained each umpire should be wired for sound they can’t control. This way we know who said the words to ignite the argument.

The accusation against many umpires is they don’t care to improve. There’s a perception they can be lazy and confrontational.

Hopefully, this format will prove the umpires are more right than wrong, but that isn’t the current perception.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Oct 12

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #4 and the Jets.

Let’s face it folks, the Mets’ real rival are the Phillies, not the Yankees, and fans of Flushing could get an in-your-face reminder of what separates Philadelphia and New York, and it isn’t the Jersey Turnpike.

The Phillies can wrap up their NLDS with Colorado tonight and move on to the next round against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cliff Lee, the pitcher the Phillies weren’t afraid to pursue while the Mets waited for John Maine and Oliver Perez to get healthy, and Mike Pelfrey to get his head on straight, can wrap it up tonight.

After the playoffs, move on over to the Monday Night game and let’s talk about the Jets and Dolphins.

Oct 11

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

It was Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS in Fenway Park, one of the most intense games in one of the most intense rivalries in all of sport.

Headhunter Pedro Martinez and punk Manny Ramirez were the biggest instigators in a brawl filled game between the Yankees and Red Sox. Ramirez waved his bat at Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens after a pitch that was no where near the Red Sox outfielder which caused the benches to empty.

In the scuffle, Martinez threw 72-year-old Yankees coach Don Zimmer to the ground. The game later featured a scuffle in the Yankees bullpen involving a Red Sox grounds crew member. The Yankees would win the game and Clemens got the decision.

The Yankees would go on to the World Series where they would lose to Florida.

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They Said It

They Said It

The Cardinals are the first playoff team to see winter as they offered no resistance in Game 3 of their NLDS with Los Angeles to be swept out of October.

Said Los Angeles’ Casey Blake: “Anytime you win a series it’s good. But to sweep the Cardinals, it just doesn’t happen. I would have never guessed we would have swept them.”

The Dodgers will play the winner of the Colorado-Philadelphia NLDS, which is tied at a game apiece with Game 3 tonight in Denver.

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BY THE NUMBERS

0: Extra base hits by Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols in the NLDS vs. Dodgers.

Oct 10

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers stymie Pujols; go for sweep.

The Cardinals were a pick of mine to advance. I thought the Dodgers’ pitching was suspect and Albert Pujols could take over a series. So far, I have been wrong. The Dodgers have limited the Cardinals to five runs in the two games and go for the sweep today in St. Louis.

Of course, if Matt Holliday could catch a line drive the NLDS would be tied at a game apiece. He couldn’t and it is not.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

That play was a major storyline. So is the Dodgers’ unwillingness to pitch to Pujols. Like Barry Bonds a few years ago, Pujols is to be avoided.

Pujols, the NL MVP favorite, hit .327 with a major league-leading 47 homers and 135 RBI. He as also intentionally walked 44 times, most in the majors. In the first two games of this series the Dodgers have limited him to a single in six at-bats. They’ve walked him intentionally the three times he came to the plate with runners in scoring position.

“To me, Albert is just out there in a class by himself,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Friday. “It may cost me, you know, a three-run homer instead of a two-run homer. But I’m still going to make somebody else beat me.”

The Cardinals have the power to complement Pujols, but Los Angeles’ pitching has been too good.

“One of the reasons we were a lot better in the last half of the year is we have protection behind him,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “If Albert keeps getting on base, we’ll pick him up.”

For the Cardinals, who stranded 14 runners in Game 1, it has to happen soon.

Oct 09

Be careful what you wish for ….

A lot of Mets fans are hoping the team will take the plunge on free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday, whose defense prowess is why the Cardinals are down 2-0 in their NLDS with the Dodgers.

Holliday dropped a line drive for what should have been the final out in Game 2 yesterday and enabled the Dodgers to rally in the ninth inning. That the Dodgers rallied is not a surprise, as they won 23 games in their final at-bat this season. It was how sudden that was shocking.

There’s no doubting Holliday’s offensive ability, but his defense has been suspect and left field is a difficult position to play in Citi Field. Not that the Mets are going to splurge on what it would take to land him, but defense is a priority.

So, is his glove worth the risk just to have his bat?