The Tenth Inning Week 22 – Instant Replay ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
By Mike Ivcic
A lot has been made about instant replay over the last week – whether baseball even needs to implement more of it, and if so how much. So, as is the custom here at The Tenth Inning, allow me to weigh in with my own thoughts on the issue. As always, what you’re about to read probably makes more sense than whatever process the league will ultimately implement, but let’s remember back in 2005 I wrote about going to three divisions of five in each league, playing interleague ever week, adding two wild card teams, and creating a one-game playoff – and now look where we are. So have faith, everyone – we can change. But this is baseball, so it’ll just happen over the course of years instead of weeks. And on that note – replay…
For starters, let me say I’m not a fan of the managerial challenge. The art of arguing will completely disappear from the game, and that’s always been a guilty “fan-favorite” of mine. I love watching good verbal spats between managers and umpires, which happen both when the umpire made the right call and when he made the wrong one. Good managers will tell you that sometimes, it’s not about the call that just happened, it’s about the next call that hasn’t happened yet – and making sure that one goes in favor of the manager’s team and not the opponent. That who art and strategy will be lost with the challenge system, so I’d prefer not to even go there.
Instead, the ideal system here is actually one I’ve heard expressed a couple of times, but with one slight tweak – as is my nature to do. Many have said to simply add a fifth umpire to all of the crews, and have the umpire responsible for working the replay booth. This serves a couple of functions – first off, it gives the umpires a virtual off-day ever fifth day, where they’re not exposed to the heat and rain, verbal jawing with the players and managers, and a chance to step back from doing one of the most thankless jobs in all of sports for a couple of hours. I don’t mean to insinuate the umpires necessarily need the day off – but if we’re adding a video official of some sort, make the umpire who worked behind home plate from the night before. That’s a hard job that requires intense focus and mental toughness for three hours or more, so let the guy sit in front of a monitor and work maybe 2-3 times all game the next day. Additionally, because the replay official will now be part of the umpiring crew, a side bonus is that the umpires on the field won’t feel any sort of animosity towards having their calls challenged. All five guys will be working together as a crew to get the call right, which should help alleviate some of the potential tension that could exist between the umpires and video booth.
This method makes the most sense, and it will be standard across the board for every pitch of every inning of every game. What can and cannot be challenged still stands – Bud Selig got that part right, in my opinion, so I’m not delving into that area for any changes. The only question that remains now is to how a call gets reviewed, since I’m not letting managers actually challenge a call. Since I like arguing, and I want the managers to still be able to do so without slowing down the game, I think that a manager leaving the dugout to dispute a call is the impetus for the replay. As soon as the manager leaves the dugout to argue a call with the umpire, the replay umpire upstairs in the press box begins the review process. If the manager doesn’t argue the call, then it is, in a sense, just like the challenge system – no challenge, no review. The video replay umpire has 30 seconds to review the call and decide whether or not the umpire on the field made the correct call. If, in those 30 seconds, the video official determines the incorrect call has been made, he buzzes down to all four umpires on the field that the call needs to be reversed or amended in some way, the argument ends and the umpires convene with a headset next to one of the dugouts. The video replay official then explains the way the call should have gone â taking the video portion and decision making process away from the on-field umpires, who already have too much to do during a game – and the call is corrected. If, however, the 30 seconds go by and the call is proven correct through the video process, the manager must then either return to the dugout or the umpire can then eject the manager. In fact, stadiums could even add a 30-second “video clock” to a scoreboard so that umpires, managers, players, and fans can see where the process stands.Â This keeps the arguing aspect of the game intact while simultaneously streamlining the process, leaving the manager ultimately in charge of when to “challenge” a call without any stipulations as to the inning or the number of times, and not slowing the game down beyond a minute – all things critical to the implementation of a good replay system.
Once again, your friends at The Tenth Inning are ahead of the times. But, once again, this is baseball – what did you expect, “instant” replay?
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