It sounds like there will be instant replay coming to baseball next season. Needless to say, this has some people either very excited or very pissed off. After the Pirates game the other night, Kent Tekulve had a quick rant about how they were ruining the game and they might as well just replace the umpires with robots if you want them to be perfect.
Whoa, calm down there Teke! No need to get so riled up. No one is saying that umpires should be replaced. People just want the close plays to be reviewed. Why does this get everyone so angry? When they decided to start reviewing questionable home runs, I thought that it would make sense to review some fair or foul calls as well.
Unfortunately, I am not a fan of the system they have put into place. A manager challenge system. They get one in the first six innings, then they get two for the remainder of the game. I am okay with the idea of the challenge. Although, I think they should have made it two per game, regardless of inning. Also, there needs to be a consequence for getting a challenge wrong. Like in football, you lose a time-out.
Why should there be a punishment? Well allow me to explain. If it is the eighth inning and your reliever just gave up a few hits and you need to get someone up in the pen right away, maybe you buy him some more time by challenging a play. Or maybe the team hitting challenges in order to try and rattle a pitcher.
Trust me, there will be managers who find creative ways to use these challenges. Especially in the sixth inning. If you do not use that one, you lose it. And you still get two more starting the next inning.
Here is my solution: if you use a challenge and you are wrong, you lose a player. You have to pick one of your guys to be unavailable the rest of the game. And it cannot be a starting pitcher. That means you lose one of your pinch hitters or maybe a reliever. It is not a perfect system, but at least it would be some kind of punishment for challenging a stupid play.
I heard someone on the radio say that infielders will no longer get the “phantom tag” of the base on double plays. For those that do not know what I am talking about, when a shortstop (or second baseman) comes across second base while throwing the runner out at first, there are times that it is pretty clear they never touched the bag.
The reason umpires give a little halo there is so that guys do not get hurt by a sliding player. Now you may have managers challenging all double plays just to see if he actually tagged it. But, if they lost a player if they were wrong, they may think twice unless they were absolutely sure.
Another fear about replay is the length of games becoming even longer. You want to shorten the length of games? Why not tell the umpires to stop granting time every single time a player REQUESTS it. If a pitcher takes more than three seconds, the hitter calls time. And almost 99% of the time, the umpire grants it. Now the hitter goes back into his at-bat ritual. The pitcher has to reset himself and get the signs from the catcher again. That annoys me.
You know what else would help shorten some of the games? If the manager did not have to come out to argue a close call. They come out and yell at the umpire for a few minutes, then get an explanation. Then they go back to the dugout (or get thrown out of the game). These little confrontations serve no purpose whatsoever. You will never see an umpire say “oh, you were right, that guy was safe at first.” It is a waste of time!
All the baseball “purists” need to calm down and embrace change. Has replay destroyed the sanctity of the other sports where it has been implemented?