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Baseball says the challenge system will foster baseball’s “uniqueness and charm.” Baloney.

Aug 15, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

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Baseball officials announced their expanded replay plan a little while ago. There was no formal vote on it today. Owners will vote on that come November. It will have to be approved by the players and the umpires unions as well.

The upshot: Managers will have one challenge each in the first six innings of each game. They will be given two more from inning seven until the end of the game.  If they use a challenge in the first six innings and they’re successful, they retain the right to challenge. If they are wrong, they’ve burnt it. It is unclear if an unused challenge in innings one through six carries over to give a manager three challenges in the final three. It is also unclear what happens if a game goes 18 innings or something. Guess it’s tough luck?

As for the breakdown of challenges: it makes total sense once you realize that bad calls in games all cluster toward the end rather than toward the beginning, by definition. And that games can truly only be decided on bad calls at the end rather than early on. And that managers should be penalized by losing challenge rights if they make a challenge on a close play they legitimately thought was wrong early on but were mistaken. This is a clearly and scientifically thought out process, you see.

But it’s not just for the science. The owners truly have baseball’s flavor and history in mind:

In the event that you didn’t catch my sarcasm above, do know that I am convinced that a challenge system is a bad idea. I’ve felt this way for a long time. But what I didn’t know until a few minutes ago is that it is being promoted by clearly delusional people who are either unwilling or incapable of providing a real reason why a challenge system is the best system rather than peddle this obvious nonsense.

There is nothing “unique” here as the NFL has a challenge system that baseball is just trying to graft on to its own sport regardless of the differences in pace of play, time stoppages and nature of the game. And it’s not like “uniqueness” should be in the top ten of all reasons to do replay. Indeed, the only point of replay is to make sure calls that are wrong are corrected. If your plan has an aim or effect that strays from that point — like, say, it only allows a certain number of calls to be corrected in certain random situations — you have created a system that misses the bleedin’ point.

As for “charm,” well, I personally find nothing more charming than a manager who is up to his neck in stress over the matchups and bullpen situation of a close game trying to quickly ascertain (a) whether a call is right or wrong; (b) what the relevant rule is for the given call; (c) whether he should challenge it or not; and (d) whether, even if doesn’t think it was wrong, if there are ulterior motives for challenging it. All this is going on while Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are talking about the challenge choices and comparing it to the NFL. Boy, that’d be as charming as a kindly old grandfather with a Georgia accent sipping lemonade on a front porch under decorative bunting.

I want ALL calls that are missed being corrected, not just some. I want baseball and its umpires working to make sure the calls are correct — not managers — because it is their responsibility to get calls right in the first place. I want a fifth ump in the booth who can watch plays on video in real time and call down to his crew-mates if a mistake is made. Short of that I want a guy in a control center in New York who can, effectively, do the same thing. The key is for umpires to get collaborative, constructive assistance in getting things right, not to be challenged — literally challenged — when they make a mistake.

Listen to your former boss, Mike Port, umpires, and vote this down. Save yourself from being stuck in the clubhouse watching on TV so you can alert your skipper when a call is blown, players, and vote this down too. Owners and Bud Selig? Drop this pure baloney about “uniqueness and charm” and either provide an actual, adult reason why this is the best system you could come up with or else drop it and go with something that isn’t so manifestly flawed.

  1. blabidibla - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Isn’t the challenge system designed to keep the amount of replay calls to a minimum? You’re NEVER going to get 100% of the plays called right, as even video can be deceptive. We could have every call reviewed and the game would last 22 hours. Ain’t no one got time for that.

    • moogro - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:26 PM


      This is pure obfuscation by the league. It will be so terrible intentionally so that they will be able to say, “see replay is stupid, let’s get rid of it.”

      I’m tempted to say this is the worse than the DH. Definitely the most random idea ever dragged into the game.

      It’s like having humans try and call balls and strikes from behind the catcher. Why have an added layer of gamesmanship to the process of getting the call right? Especially when we are all going to compare that to seeing instant replay on our screens 5 seconds later that will show the call?

      • moogro - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        Sorry about the double post. I was watching a replay of a blown call on my cell phone.

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 16, 2013 at 1:21 AM

      I challenge the right to allow Craig Calcaterra the right to be a sports writer.

  2. urkiddddingme - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Actually McCarver won’t be discussing it with Buck. Will he? Isn’t he retiring?

    • pjmarn6 - Aug 16, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      How about a review on umpire bad calls and throwing them out of a game?

  3. vanmorrissey - Aug 15, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    So the corny red bean bag will become what, throwing out a bag of cool ranch sunflower seeds? What if they’re chili flavored, no, has to be cool ranch? Just laughable NFL with all it’s billions and they use a $2 bean bag that a coach actually has to throw on the ground to indicate a challenge. Who thinks this stuff up, third graders? Oh wait, owners and commissioners, enough said. Idiots.

  4. chunkala - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:10 PM


    Will you ever just grow up and stop being such a jerk? Don’t you think it’s immature to always take the con-argument? We all know that any step towards some sort of replay is a good idea. This isn’t a perfect system but at least it something that would confront the incompetent and/or biased judgments of these umpires.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      Nonsense. I am “pro” many things, according to you commenters. Pro-steroids. Pro-communism, etc. My views are varied.

      • deaninajijic - Aug 15, 2013 at 9:43 PM

        So you don’t like the challenges, how do you fix this mess we have. I don’t see an answer in your posts.

      • pjmarn6 - Aug 16, 2013 at 1:22 AM

        Your views are pro-jerk.

    • mjbabiak - Aug 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      I have to say,

      I completely agree with you.

      Wake up Craig. No one wants to sit around and watch a “5-hour-17-play-review-game”

      • palehose56 - Aug 15, 2013 at 7:31 PM

        If they do it right, the reviews would be near instantaneous and you wouldn’t even know they happened most of the time. As suggested, you put another umpire in the booth who can watch the replay right away and let the crew know if they’re wrong

  5. sabatimus - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    RETAIN game flow? If by “retain game flow” he means “make each game as long as your average Sox/Yanks game.”

  6. brewcrewfan54 - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    The whole game can be done from the booth then in the system you prefer unless you want to keep 1 guy on the field for balls and strikes.

    • moogro - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:42 PM

      Uh, no. And the guys on the field should be doing everything but calling balls and strikes.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Aug 15, 2013 at 6:59 PM

        I wouldn’t prefer it but, really what call on the field can’t be made by a guy in the booth?

    • palehose56 - Aug 15, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      Sounds good to me.

  7. kane337 - Aug 15, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    I applaud baseball for their attempts to FINALLY embrace technology. I hope this or something similar passes through. Lets get the call right.

    • moogro - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:45 PM

      This is wildly dissimilar to getting the calls right, and adding a stupid game layer to baseball. Umpires on the field, pitch trackers for balls and strikes, and video replay for close calls is getting the calls right. Everything else is bullshit.

  8. donnaturner6566 - Aug 15, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Only seriusly intrested persons required .. please you have to work and use the computer and internet, and if you can do that and dedicate some time each day then you can do this with no problem. I have been working with this for a month and have made over $2,000 already. let me know if you need more here you go.. click as new agent

  9. edpeters101 - Aug 15, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    I don’t see the Umpires and their egos, short tempers, thin skins, limited knowledge of the game, poor eyesight, etc., ever allowing this to happen. Maybe they will go on strike and end all our miseries!!!

    • deaninajijic - Aug 15, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      You are probably right, but they got to fix something. A man in the booth could quickly review challenges. I go nuts watching games when everyone has a clearly bad call. Challenges could work and your way off base on this one. And I agree with most things you write.

  10. jodysanchez344 - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:04 AM

    only seriusly intrested are welcomed..we hate spammers,,
    you have to work and use the computer and internet, and if you can do that and dedicate some time each day then you can do this with no problem.
    I have been working with this for a month and have made over $2,000 already. let me know if you need more here you go. i need more agents

  11. denverdude7 - Aug 16, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    That popping sound you just heard was the leaders of MLB’s heads being freed from the confines of their derrieres.

    Now, if they could do the same about instituting a hard salary cap MLB would see it’s popularity soar to new heights.

    I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I am sick to death of seeing the same old teams in the playoffs every single year.

    Oh sure, there is an occassional exception. But for the most part, it’s the same old, same old every year…YAWN !!!!!!!

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