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Replay got its first test last night

Nov 6, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT

Video camera

As we mentioned earlier, the Arizona Fall League is serving as a testing grounds for baseball’s new replay challenge system. Last night was the first game with the system in place. It went pretty well.

There were four challenges. None on controversial or even particularly close calls (managers have been encouraged to use it liberally for testing purposes). All of the challenges went smoothly. Baseball has imposed a three-minute time limit for challenges for the testing period and none of them came close.

So that’s good, I guess. This is less good:

Tuesday’s challenges were issued verbally, simple enough in front of a few hundred fans. When there are tens of thousands screaming, objects such as waved flags or tossed beanbags will be employed.

Salt River and Mesa players demonstratively enjoyed participating in the landmark game. In fact, they thought it was a hoot — loudly and emphatically urging for replays from their respective dugouts after every even remotely close play on the field.

Still waiting for some explanation of why a challenge system is the best or why it even makes sense if the goal is to get calls right rather than to create a silly distraction. Maybe the players urging challenges are jokes now, but wait until it’s games with major leaguers in high stress situations. Managers totally need that kind of pressure, right?

  1. bleedgreen - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Players urging challenges will make the game go quicker. Way quicker than a player jawing at an ump, followed by the manager coming out to jaw with the ump, whether he agrees or not, just to show ‘support for his player’ followed by both of them getting ejected.

    • anxovies - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      No more watching Billy Martin kicking dirt on the umpire or Sweet Lou throwing bases? Imagine Earl Weaver standing on the dugout steps and throwing little red beanbag at home plate. C’mon man! It’s like watching hockey without the fights.

      • bleedgreen - Nov 7, 2013 at 8:10 AM

        I’m not saying its right or wrong. I’m just saying that the argument of ‘it will slow down the game!’ is null and void if these arguments and tantrums don’t happen.

  2. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Again, a challenge replay system accomplishes one thing and one thing only. It takes the responsibility of getting a call right off of the umpires and onto the managers. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    • asexatheani - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      How so? The managers can still have their calls for review denied by the review official. All it’s doing is what broadcasters have been doing for 10+ years now: using replay to make sure we get calls right.

      I watched a video of it on, and honestly it looked like it went pretty well. As for people worrying about fights, don’t. Managers will still probably get pissed when their challenges don’t get upheld, and we’ll still have bench clearing brawls. 😀

      • paperlions - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        Because it requires the manager to be able to see a replay quick enough to issue a challenge within the flow of the game, rather than a review umpire simply calling down to change a call….

        …and because it requires the manager to be judicious in his use of challenges when the number of them he gets is limited. With 2 outs and a man in the first, if a guy was wrongly called out at 1st to end the inning, does a manager challenge that to keep the inning going and risk having no challenges left later in the game?

        If the point is to get calls right, there should be no limit to the amount of corrected calls in a game…what? once you fix (or at least challenge) 4 bad calls, there is no more need to fix bad calls the rest of the game?

        Most of the time this won’t be an issue because most of the time there will not be 4 incorrect calls, but there are plenty of games with a lot of close fair/foul calls and calls on the bases in which a manager will be forced to make a decision…..the only real function of limiting the challenges and requiring a manager to challenge, is to shift the responsibility onto the managers….rather than anyone else.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        Well, now if an Ump blows a call he can simply say “Hey, it’s not my fault, YOU had a chance to review it but choose not to.” To which, any right-minded person will say “You should have gotten it right to begin with.” Then the ump will counter with something about human element and this being the reason we need replay, then right minded people will scream for robot umps.

        Basically having a review system allows for blame to be shifted to the point where umpires and their inflated egos can continue in their delusions in that they are always correct and NOTHING is ever their fault.

        And let’s not get into the fact that it is a TERRIBLE idea having the umpire who blew the call in the first place being the one to go review it. Again, ego’s get in the way here. I’ve known my share of umpires who blow calls on purpose because they simply didn’t like that you argued another call when they were clearly wrong. It happens. This is why you need a extra, unbiased umpire in the booth reviewing plays. An umpire that is separate from the on-field umpiring crew and is more likely to be impartial. Said umpire also should be outfitted with the latest in high definition television technology, have full control over multiple available angles and the ability to view replays in slow motion. Because anything else is defeating the entire purpose, which is to get the calls right.

  3. uwsptke - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Why doesn’t MLB (and the NFL for that matter) just adopt the college football review system? They have an “eye in the sky” official (either at the game, or a team of them in a centralized location with TV monitors) that just buzz down to the umpires when they want to take a closer look at a play? TV veiwers know within 10-15 seconds after a play if the correct call was made thanks to the various TV angles available. If the goal is to get the plays right and not cause a circus, this is the way to go.

    • cur68 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      You mean “do something sensible”? Ha! That aint how Bud & Co rolls, man. “Make a pigs arse of it”; THAT’S how they roll.

      • jarathen - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        I’m just surprised they use the British “arse” to describe anything.

      • cur68 - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:44 PM

        That just goes to show how stuffy they are.

      • historiophiliac - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        Oh, that’s just Richie Rich adding unnecessary letters to sound smart. He’ll drop a “u” on you any time he gets a chance. He likes to go all Scarlet Pimpernel on folks at the drop of a flag.

        Anyhoo, I for one will miss Leyland stomping out to argue with the ump and would miss that tradition heartily. There should be a balance between the demands of the efficiency experts on here and the sammich breaks between pitches in a Big Papi at-bat.

      • cur68 - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:46 PM

        That’s the Queen’s English there, cupcake. Read it an weep.

        Anyhow, I think there will be still plenty of arguments. The challenge system practically demands it.

        “I don’t care if I’m out of challenges!! You made the wrong call, moron! etc. etc…..”

      • historiophiliac - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        Of course you made that about cake…

        I think flags or beanbags (!) are dumb, but you know they had to include challenges just to keep that tradition. That’s the drama, right there. I don’t think anyone complains when a seriously hot manager comes out to argue; to the contrary, I think people enjoy it (fans love it!). Using challenges to game the system is another thing though — and apparently, it already happens, so…boooooo!! Oh, good lord, I’m already starting to twitch about it. Stopping now.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      See my post above. That is the only explanation for them not to do something so sensible.

  4. MattJanik - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    What bugged me about last night’s game was how the MLB Network commentators played the part of obedient lapdog so efficiently. The system is the brainchild of Tony La Russa, of course, and he was in the booth for the third inning. Even though the inning went forever (seven runs in the bottom half), as far as I know (was on the phone during part of it), nobody ever asked him why a challenge system won out over a more objective system, or why getting calls right should somehow be tied up in the strategy of the game.

    I guess we’re going to wait until a game gets lost because a manager doesn’t have a challenge left, and then we’ll all flip out about it, or something.

    On the other hand, more replay: good. Can only hope they figure out a better way to do it as they go forward.

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