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Managers won’t run the challenge replay system. Players will.

Aug 16, 2013, 4:48 PM EDT

Lawrie argument

Categorize this under “Deep Thoughts,” but it occurred to me a bit ago that the managers won’t really be the ones “empowered” — to use John Schuerholz’s word — under the proposed manager challenge replay system. In fact, they’re bound to be more pressured by it than empowered. It will be the players running it, actually.

How many times do you see this happen: close play, maybe a tag play or something. The player who has the call go against him, be it the base runner or the fielder, reacts immediately. He was right there and he knows he got boned on the call. He pleads for a minute. Sometimes that’s the end of it. Often times — maybe most of the time — the manager runs out onto the field to take over the argument.

Won’t that dictate when replay challenges are used? When the player pleads with the manager or is animated in his reaction at the wrong call? How does a manager go to the press after a game and answer the “why didn’t you go challenge the play your shortstop was arguing about?” question? How does he avoid having players feel undermined or not supported by their manager?  Answer: he can’t. He has to challenge those plays whether he really saw some injustice or not. And he likely didn’t see it as good anyway, so why not give the benefit of the doubt to the guy on the field.

So let’s not call it a manager challenge. It’ll be, in practice, a player challenge, with managers feeling pressured and obligated into having their players’ backs. Just like most manager-umpire arguments now.

  1. AK47 - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Maybe so, but how’s that any different than the NFL? A player pitches a fit when they don’t get a call and then the coach challenges.

    The challenge system they should have adopted, if they had been thinking straight, would have been the NHL model. There are no players or coaches involved – every scoring play is reviewed at an off-site location and the verdict is relayed to a person at the game who lets the ref know….and it all happens very quickly. Obviously that would have to modified a bit to fit Major League Baseball – but if all close plays were reviewed by an off-site, third-party arbiter, and the verdict relayed to someone stationed near the field who was able to inform the umpire of the ruling — it would ensure that ALL bad calls rectified.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      In the NFL there are coaches in the sky who can tell the coach whether it’s a good idea or not. He can second guess the player by saying “I know he was mad, but we had a better look at it.”

      A baseball manager can’t do this.

      • AK47 - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        A baseball manager can’t do this now – they will find a way.

      • blabidibla - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        Why not? Those coaches in the sky are privy to replay and make the call based on what they see on video. Why can’t baseball do the same?

        What needs to be addressed is how long until a replay must be called. In football, it is often dictated by the offense as they will rush to the line to get the next play off if they feel they will lose, or take most of the clock to ensure they didn’t get robbed if they feel they will win an appeal.

      • Jeremy T - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        They aren’t allowed to have electronic devices in the dugout right now, are they? I’d prefer they had an eye in the sky, but under the current rules wouldn’t they be illegal?

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        I don’t know if this is allowed under the rules or not, but if it is, I would expect teams to hire “replay analysts” or something of the sort to watch the replays and relay out to the dugout whether or not to challenge.

        Which, by the way, sounds like the most awesome job ever. Get payed to watch the game and maybe have to review a replay once or twice a game.

      • apmn - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:32 PM

        George, we are promoting you to replay analyst. Don’t screw this up, Costanza.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:36 PM

        If 30 teams are going to dedicate employees to sit in booths and watch every play, what’s the objection to doing this with 15 umpires in a 5th umpire system again?

      • blabidibla - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:38 PM

        The team will have to pay them, not MLB. :)

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:23 PM

        And what’s to stop these team employees with video recording equipment, binoculars, and a direct connection to managers from stealing signs or performing other cheat-like things?

        Face it, it’s a stupid system no matter how you look at it. And we shouldn’t be surprised that this is the brain-child of MLB.

  2. misterj167 - Aug 16, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    I have a bad feeling about this…

  3. dannymac17 - Aug 16, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    Soooo what you are saying is games will go from 3 1/2 hours to 5 hours? Perfect, let me call my boss and tell him in the future i will not only have to leave early, but i will most likely be late tomorrow as well.

    This goes against the ethics of baseball. Replay slows the game too much.

  4. Michael - Aug 16, 2013 at 8:25 PM


    It’s obvious to anyone watching the game for any length of time that players sometimes pitch fits not actually knowing whether they were really “boned” or not.

    And other times they pitch fits knowing they’re full of crap, but also knowing the umpire may feel doubt and give their team the benefit in the next close call. (See: Yankees, New York, 1996-2001.)

    Half the time the manager runs out to keep the player from being ejected for being an idiot, not because he believes the guy was hosed.

    And you’re forgetting that with limited challenges, such challenges must also be strategic within the game situation. That fact alone makes a challenge purely a manager’s decision, and if he punts it because of a player’s ego, he’s a bad manager.

    Challenge replays are an awful, awful idea and the slippery slope that the media calls for “more replay” have wrought, but good managers will use them with winning the game in mind, not to challenge, say, a close out at first with two out, nobody on and a three-run lead in the 8th because the batter wants the hit on his record.

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