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