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Deep thought: Could replay delays lead to faster games?

Jan 31, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Adjusting gloves

I know that sounds counterintuitive — and it may be dumb wishful thinking — but I just read a Matt Williams quote about replay that makes me wonder if some delays-in-play brought on by replay may, in the long term, lead to faster game play.  Here’s what Williams said:

Williams said another issue would be if managers tried to stall while other team officials monitored the play to determine whether the play was worthy of instant replay. The rules say a manager must react in a timely manner, meaning before the pitcher and catcher are set to face the next batter, if he wants to officially review a call.

“There’s some cagey managers in this game,” Williams said with a sheepish grin.

I doubt managers will obviously stall. That’s because there are so many existing, accepted ways for players to stall. The pitcher and catcher will know when there was a controversial play on defense. They can fart around, visit and do all sorts of things like they already do to stall a bit. If it’s a play the offense may want reviewed the batter has a whole host of fidgets and glove-adjustments and oh, I need a new bat things to buy time.

They do this all the time now and it’s what has led to such long games these days. And we let them do it because, however annoying, it’s not truly affecting the game. But when they do it to mess with a replay review, people will probably take notice. And the only way to crack down on that is to crack down on the behavior itself — the fidgeting and farting around — and how do you craft new rules or make a point of stricter enforcement regarding such things in the replay context without regulating the behavior overall?

Maybe someone stepping out of the box too much or pitchers pacing behind the mound and wiping their brow too often will mess with replay enough to where baseball actually cracks down on it. And maybe the behavior is reduced overall as a result.

Or, like I said, maybe I’m just engaging in wishful thinking here.

  1. pastabelly - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Replays could 4-hour Red Sox – Yankee games into 4-hour 10 minute games.

  2. skids003 - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    That’s why I’m for reply like college football does it. Would stop this from happening.

  3. twenty1miles - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    The fidgeting and stalling is definitely a problem, but at the same time, I shudder at the thought of a play clock of sorts.

    • dowhatifeellike - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      There’s a rule about time between pitches, but it’s never enforced. Enforcing that one rule would help dramatically.

      • rje49 - Jan 31, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        The blame for pitch to pitch times lays equally between batters and pitchers.

      • gloccamorra - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:36 PM

        If the umpires enforced rule 6.02, batters wouldn’t be stepping out of the box after every pitch and taking a walk, like many Red Sox and Yankees players do. They don’t ask for time out, and some umpires don’t even call time by raising their hands, but just stand up from their crouch. It’s not just the pitcher’s fault.

    • acepicker4 - Jan 31, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      You got me thinking. Why not a shot clock? Say 45 seconds. If the batter is granted time out (once per AB) the clock stops. If the catcher visits the mound, the clock does not stop. Manager visits clock stops. Subsequent visit he must make a pitching change as it is now.
      Maybe I’m head in the clouds but, why not?

  4. chacochicken - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    If a manager can now contest a close play and ask for replay then he shouldn’t come out and complain to the ump for 5 minutes. Either replay or shut up. Should keep managers from getting tossed as often too.

    • gloccamorra - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:40 PM

      Wait! I LIKE watching managers argue (and get tossed). Various managers have their own style, like the crossed arms, the karate chop, and the bobble head, and it’s fun to see when the umpire has had enough. The tip-off is when the umpire looks away. Then, you can pretty much count to three and the manager is outta there! It’s great theater, if fans would only learn to appreciate the performance.

  5. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Would be nice – but it is wishful thinking. There have been high profile instances of stalling – Jorge Posada visiting the mound 8 times in one inning in the 2009 World Series, including 4 times in Jayson Werths one AB. That got a lot of attention. And the result was….nothing.

    Granted, that was one instance, whereas repeated gaming the system for Replays would be ongoing. But I doubt that alone would make a difference. Would be nice though

    • 18thstreet - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      Posada was the worst. Or the best, depending on whether you are on the side of good or evil.

      And now here’s Larry Rothschild. And Posada again.

      I hate it. Play Expletive Deleted Ball.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        Posada is like the guy who takes 12 cents out of the “Give a Penny, Take a Penny” cup. Sure, there is no rule against it, but there should be. Not to mention if everyone acted like that, the system would be scrapped

  6. natstowngreg - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Love the idea but, alas, it is wishful thinking. Replay won’t lead to MLB forcing faster gameplay until it has to, because enough consumers stop buying the product. Same non-existent groundswell as the one against players’ huge salaries.

    In the NFL, a lot of the delay in replay comes not from the actual replay. It comes from waiting for the head coach to decide whether to challenge. Sometimes, the coach waits until the next play is about to start. What Matt Williams suggests is the same thing; waiting until the pitcher is about to throw the next pitch.

    Also, NFL coaches sometimes argue calls with the referees before throwing the challenge flag, still another delay source. The MLB replay system doesn’t take away a manager’s right to come out and argue a call, creating similar delays.

    Perhaps, as replay matures, MLB might consider exceptions to challenges. The NFL has a couple. Replays on certain plays are automatic — those resulting in touchdowns and/or turnovers. Most of the time, there is zero delay, because the calls were clear-cut. Also, they give discretion at the end of each half to the replay official to deciede what to replay. Thus, taking away the coach’s ability to delay.

    Of course, as I think we agree, the real answer was to not adopt the challenge system. But that proverbial ship has sailed, and MLB will have to deal with the consequences of what it has.

  7. dowhatifeellike - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    If they won’t do anything about the human rain delays playing for the Red Sox and Yankees now, there is no reason to believe they’ll do anything later, either.

  8. eshine76 - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    I wonder if teams will take a similar approach to football on close calls… if the team on the winning end of an obvious blown call will rush to get set in the batter’s box / pitching rubber to force the ump to make a call as to the timeliness of the other team…

  9. joestemme - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    Use K-Zone for Balls and strikes as well. That would really speed up the game. Take the arguments, stares and fist shaking away from Batters, Catchers, Pitchers and Managers.

    All the ump has to say is – “That’s what the computer saw. Next pitch.”

    • moogro - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      This. Obviously, and inevitably. You can’t get rid of the batter’s and pitcher’s Tourette’s syndrome, but somehow enforcing the rules on time will sure make the at-bat process quicker. Especially when coupled with a computer calling balls and strikes. If a pitcher is on the rubber ready to throw it through a sensor, you better get in the box and get ready to hit.

      And all major sports will also go inevitably to the centralized video village in New York.
      Excuse the PFT link. I feel dirty.

      • joestemme - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        It IS inevitable that baseball eventually goes to an automatic ball & strike system (save for maybe check swings). The question is whether any of us on this site will live to see it. Baseball is VERY resistant to change. Until every “you can’t take out the human element out of baseball!” advocate passes away, who knows when?

  10. historiophiliac - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Are you kidding me? John Farrell already did this in the post-season last year. Of course some managers will use this as a stall tactic.

  11. mudhead123 - Jan 31, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Because this isn’t basketball

  12. musketmaniac - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    I don’t believe you. managers stalling never. they’ll be late for their post game interview.

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