The Tenth Inning Week 22 Instant Replay

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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 – 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.  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?

Playoff “Dead” List
August 26 – San Francisco Giants – I guess we can finally make official what most of the baseball community has know for almost two months – there will be no repeating from the Giants this year. With a lackluster season from their starting pitching and the anticipated struggles of the offense, it just wasn’t in the cards for San Fran this year. That leaves 16 teams for 10 spots – 7 for 5 in the NL, 9 for 5 in the AL. We’ll eliminate one team each of the next two weeks, then two teams on September 16, before making our final playoff predictions on the last Monday of the regular season, September 23, and simultaneously eliminating our final two teams. It’s the best time of the year, so get locked in for a fantastic fall.
August 19 – Philadelphia Phillies
August 12 – Colorado Rockies
August 5 – Los Angeles Angels
July 29 – Toronto Blue Jays
July 22 – San Diego Padres
July 15 – Minnesota Twins
July 8 – Chicago White Sox
July 1 – Milwaukee Brewers
June 24 – Seattle Mariners
June 17 – Chicago Cubs
June 10 – New York Mets
June 3 – Houston Astros
May 27 – Miami Marlins

Three series to watch this week…
1) CIN @ STL (8/26-8/28) – The Cards are in the middle of a gauntlet, and taking 3 of 4 from Atlanta was a good start. Now they get the Reds and Pirates at home and away over the next two weeks, so we’ll have a much better idea of where these three teams will fall by September 8. Meanwhile the Reds are now just 3 back of Pittsburgh with St. Louis in between, so really this is still anyone’s race.
2) OAK @ DET (8/26-8/29) – With the Orioles, Indians, and Yankees all breathing down their necks, the A’s have to avoid disaster in Detroit this week. Losing three or four here could push Oakland out of a playoff spot, though they catch a break with the Indians playing in Atlanta and the Orioles traveling to Boston.
3) CLE @ ATL (8/27-8/29) – Speaking of the Indians, they get a Braves team that lost three of four and suddenly don’t look like a lock to take the top spot in the NL as much as they did a week ago. The Indians are likely just playing for a wild card spot at this point, but their schedule is the easiest down the stretch. They just need to stay afloat through the next two series, because after Atlanta they go to…

Three series to watch this weekend…
1) CLE @ DET (8/22-8/25) – …Detroit! The Indians are sporting a spectacular 3-11 record against their divisional foe, including a four-game sweep by Detroit in Cleveland two week ago, so even winning just a game here would be a bit of moral victory. Still, if the Tribe want to return to the postseason, they need to prove they belong by beating the good teams a bit more often.
2) STL @ PIT (8/30-9/1) – The Pirates will very likely have a chance this weekend to clinch their first winning season since 1992, and would love nothing better than to have that victory be one that also helps create some separation between them and the teams chasing them. They’ll need it, too – 6 of their final 9 games are against the Reds, while the Cardinals get a break with the Brewers, Cubs, and Padres. So these games now are ultra-critical.
3) TAM @ OAK (8/23-8/25) – Coming off a four game series in Detroit, the A’s return home to face the one team still ahead of them in wild card standings – at least for now. The Rays are actually closer to overtaking Boston for the AL East lead than they are getting caught by multiple teams in the wild card race, and they have a chance here to really solidify their playoff positioning by pulling away from the pack.

If the playoffs started today…
American League
1) Detroit Tigers
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Texas Rangers
4) Tampa Bay Rays
5) Oakland Athletics

National League
1) Atlanta Braves
2) Los Angeles Dodgers
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) St. Louis Cardinals
5) Cincinnati Reds

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