Skip to content

If replay is expanded, it can’t have a challenge system

Nov 2, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

Robinson Cano, Omar Infante AP

Howard Bryant has an article in ESPN the Magazine about expanded replay and some of its potential worrisome unintended consequences.  It’s a good piece, noting the untenable nature of the league’s traditional insistence that it always has and always will survive blown calls.  It also has an interesting quote from Tony La Russa — Bud Selig’s point man on these sorts of matters — which puts lie to the idea Selig keeps floating about how no one really cares about replay. Seems, per Mr. La Russa, that they do.

The general upshot, though, surrounds how problematic it would be to implement a challenge system, noting that in other sports such as tennis — with which Bryant is intimately familiar — challenge systems create some altogether new problems, such as umpires afraid of overruling the line judges and then, themselves, being overruled by a challenge.

I asked Bryant on Twitter about why he assumes a challenge system and he said that he doesn’t personally, but that a challenge system is what Major League Baseball officials are talking about.  I really hope that’s not the league’s focus, because a challenge system seems like the worst possible option. Both for the reasons Bryant notes in his article and because it would do maximum damage to the game flow that MLB itself seems most interested in preventing.  Fixing one problem — blown calls — should neither create more nor fundamentally change baseball strategy, which would certainly happen. Give a manager a lever, he’s gonna pull it.

The only workable option for a rigorous and useful replay system would be to have the umpires manage it themselves as a closed system. Put a fifth ump in the booth and make him a full member of the umpiring crew. Have him be the eye in the sky who is only heard from if he sees something his colleagues missed.  Make it explicit that umpires will not be penalized or judged harshly by the league for getting initial calls wrong or being overturned by replay.

The most important thing is to make replay a tool for the umpires to do a better job, not a threat that risks exposing them when they do a poor one.

Latest Posts
  1. Royals’ World Series hopes in Yordano Ventura’s hands

    Oct 22, 2014, 12:58 AM EDT

    It’s up to the rookie in Wednesday’s Game 2.

  2. Giants stomp Royals 7-1 in World Series Game 1 rout

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:41 PM EDT

    bumgarner getty Getty Images

    The 2014 Royals have finally dropped a postseason game. And it was an ugly one for the home team.

  3. Royals get on the board on a Salvador Perez home run

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:06 PM EDT

    salvador perez getty Getty Images

    Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was working on a shutout in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium until Royals catcher Salvador Perez slugged a two-out solo shot over the left field fence.

  4. James Shields driven from Game 1 in the fourth inning

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:49 PM EDT

    james shields getty Getty Images

    Royals manager Ned Yost has gone to the bullpen early in Game 1 of the World Series, lifting starter James Shields after he allowed an RBI single to Giants designated hitter Michael Morse in the top of the fourth inning.

  5. Giants take early lead in Game 1 of World Series

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT

    hunter pence getty Getty Images

    The Giants exploded for three runs in the top of the first inning on singles by Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey, a double by Pablo Sandoval, and a Hunter Pence two-run homer to center field.

  6. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady rooting for his hometown Giants in the World Series

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT

    tom brady

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted this picture on his Facebook page this evening with a caption that reads “Gearing up to watch my hometown Giants in the World Series.”

  7. Video: Kansas City, Home Sweet Home

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT

    kauffman stadium kc getty Getty Images

    Here’s a Royals pump-up video that MLB Advanced Media put together featuring the music of Motley Crue …

  8. Mike Zagurski signs with NPB’s Hiroshima Carp

    Oct 21, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT

    mike zagurski getty Getty Images

    From Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca comes word that left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurski has officially agreed to a contract with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball.

  9. Phillies re-sign Jerome Williams for $2.5 million

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

    Jerome Williams AP

    Williams has pitched for seven different MLB teams in nine seasons, posting a combined 4.40 ERA in 891 career innings.

  10. Royals’ World Series rotation: Shields, Ventura, Guthrie, Vargas

    Oct 21, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Yordano Ventura Yordano Ventura

    That’s the same alignment the Royals used in the ALCS, when they swept the Orioles in four games.

  11. The Royals have three closers, really. And they’re closing things out at an amazing rate

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 2.22.46 PM Getty Images

    Joe Posnanski looks at where they came from and just how dominant they’ve been.

  12. Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer re-injures shoulder in Arizona Fall League

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    Kyle Zimmer Royals Getty Images

    Zimmer came into this season as a top-25 prospect according to Baseball America and MLB.com.

  13. Funding approved for a new spring training complex for the Nationals and Astros

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Palm beach

    Now they just need a site. If you have a few hundred acres in the Palm Beach area, call Mark Lerner.

  14. Mark Appel is thriving in the Arizona Fall League

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

    Mark Appel AP AP

    Mark Appel had a weird season, as the former No. 1 overall pick was awful at Single-A with a 9.74 ERA in 12 starts and then made headlines over the weird quasi-controversy of him throwing a bullpen session in Houston.

  15. The Kansas City Star is drunk on World Series excitement

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    kauffman stadium getty Getty Images

    So drunk that today’s editorial says that the taxpayer subsidies to renovate the place several years ago are all worth it. Um, yeah.

  16. Royals add Jayson Nix to the World Series roster

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    jayson nix ap AP

    He replaces rookie Christian Colon.

  17. HBT Daily: In which I waffle on my World Series pick

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

    Bruce Bochy Bruce Bochy

    Breaking down tonight’s starters, the bullpens and the magic.

  18. The World Series will likely be Lorde-free

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:53 AM EDT

    george brett and lorde

    I suppose she could parachute into the stadium and surprise us or something, but don’t count on it.

  19. Must-click link: surviving spring training on $0 a day

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT

    Jimenez

    Minor leaguers have filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball alleging unfair labor practices. Here’s the story of one player who realized that there has to be a better way.

Featured video

Pitching duel highlights Game 1 of WS
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. M. Morse (1792)
  2. L. Cain (1708)
  3. B. Posey (1663)
  4. B. Roberts (1492)
  5. A. Wainwright (1485)