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We all saw this coming with the replay challenge system

Apr 2, 2014, 8:51 AM EDT

Umpires AP

This is taken from this morning’s And That Happened recaps. I made it its own post because the recaps tend to get buried by mid-morning.

Day 2 of instant replay and everything that many of us said could go wrong with a challenge-based system went wrong:

(a) A critical call was blown;
(b) the call could not be reviewed because the manager was out of challenges;
(c) the wholly arbitrary rule that umpires can’t initiate reviews before the seventh inning was in effect;
(d) the blown-but-unreviewable call constituted the game’s margin of victory; and
(e) all of that led to extended delays.

As for the facts: the entire description of what went wrong and why can be read here, but the short version is that Giants manager Bruce Bochy was penalized for mounting an unsuccessful challenge on one close-as-could-be play by not being able to challenge and overturn an obviously missed call by the umpires on a run-scoring play in last night’s game against the Diamondbacks. The rule has it that a manager gets one challenge and he can only use a second one if the first one was successful. That arbitrary seventh inning rule prevented the umps from reviewing it themselves.

Of course, why a totally defensible, but ultimately unsuccessful challenge on one play deprives a manager of a challenge on a wholly unrelated play is utterly beyond me. Why umpires — or anyone — can’t initiate review of plays that are clearly botched before the seventh inning is likewise beyond me. Why Bruce Bochy and the Giants have to bear the burden of fixing the umpire’s mistakes — and do so in a manner that requires game show-like calculation and management of scarce, gimmicky resources — is so far beyond me that I’d get jet lag if I had to go visit it. Baseball sold the challenge system on its “uniqueness and charm.” This was certainly unique, but not at all charming.

I’m sure, to the extent there are any official responses to the events of this game, they will reference the fact that, as recently as last season, the same outcome would have occurred here but, unlike last year at least there was a chance for the run-scoring call here to be reviewed (that chance being had Bruce Bochy not burned his challenge). Don’t accept that answer. Baseball had carte blanche and the support of everyone to institute a system that got calls right. They chose, however, to go with a system that, by definition, does not have getting calls right as its sole objective. A system which managers do not care for and which its former head of umpiring said “would lead to unbelievable confusion and would miss the point of instituting replay.”

Well, mission accomplished.

  1. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 2, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    I wish I told you so made me feel better. At this point, all we can do is hope that MLB learns from what I’m sure will only be the first of MANY similar calls this year and implements a proper system next year.

    One extra official at each game in a computer room with several few large screen, high definition monitors that have multiple angles, and manual adjustments of speed reviewing ALL plays. When that official spots a suspected error, he is able to buzz to the official, letting him know that a play is in review. Once that play is reviewed and a judgement is issued, he can communicate to the head umpire via ear bud what the proper call is so the information may be relayed onto the field. All scoring plays and home runs are automatically reviewed. Managers need not enter the field of play to argue, discuss, or challenge.

    The entire process should take no longer than it took Nomar Garciaparra to adjust his gloves. If MLB is concerned about the extra time it takes, they could tell pitchers to start pitch the ball in under 2 minutes a pitch, and request that batters not step out of the box to fill out a P-SAT test after every pitch.

    We have the resources to ensure that calls are correct, and we are CHOOSING not to avail ourselves of them.

    • stoutfiles - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      “If MLB is concerned about the extra time it takes, they could tell pitchers to start pitch the ball in under 2 minutes a pitch, and request that batters not step out of the box to fill out a P-SAT test after every pitch.”

      As a high school ump, pitchers have 30 seconds to get the ball back to the plate. If batters keep stepping out, I warn them, and then I start calling strikes for failure to stay in the box. Play the game.

      • thetoolsofignorance - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:24 AM

        Please take over Joe Torre’s job. Someone competent needs to enforce the rules

      • chunkala - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        Great comment, hit nail on the head.
        By rule, the pitcher has 12 seconds to pitch the ball. 12 SECONDS!
        I love the rule but I can see how others would see it as extreme. 15-20 seconds would be fine too but just enforce the rule and we’ll be back to 2:20 games.

        In terms of replay, give managers 4-5 challenges per game. I know umps are incompetent but I dont think they are missing 10 calls a game, so 10 challenges is a safe bet.

      • miguelcairo - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Watching Scott Feldman against the Yanks last night was so hard. He took so long in between pitches I took out a stopwatch and checked myself. In a matter of 5 pitches, it took him over 3 minutes.

        Now, he threw a great game, but Jesus, let’s speed it up a bit. You’d think these old umps would be rushing everyone from the get-go.

      • sportsfan18 - Apr 2, 2014 at 5:19 PM


        In the NFL, a typical play lasts like 6 seconds give or take… and then we wait and wait and wait for them to un-pile, to huddle up and the teams have 40 seconds timed from the end of the previous play to snap the ball again.

        Some pitches take longer than that to be made but the OVERWHELMING majority of pitches happen in under 40 seconds easily in baseball.

        In a 60 minute football game, with plays lasting like 5 to 6 seconds long, there is only around 11 actual minutes of action in an NFL game and that is for BOTH teams.

        If the teams times of possession is basically equal in a game this means each offense is only running/executing a play for around 5 min’s or so (gotta take out the special teams plays from the 11 min’s of game action from both teams too).

        So the “gotta play all 60 min’s” in the NFL is actually only gotta play the 5 mins if you’re on defense or the 5 min’s if you’re on offense…

        The rest is standing in the huddle and being lined up waiting for the QB to call for the snap…

        So as fans watching football, we see a few seconds of action and then we see 7 to 8 times the amount of time that the play took before the next play happens.

        Time is time and wait is wait… we wait while watching the NFL, what’s wrong waiting while watching baseball?

      • moogro - Apr 2, 2014 at 5:42 PM

        Even as much as 30 seconds per pitch would greatly speed up the game.

    • Kevin S. - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Make this official part of the umpiring crew. Adds 25% more jobs, rotates the umps into a cushy booth once every five days, makes their peers the ones overruling them, not outsiders. Easiest way to get ump buy-in on the system.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        MLB doesn’t want to do this because it increases the total number of umpires, thus the total amount of money paid to umpires including benefits and pension plans. In addition, the current system places the blame on the manager for not using the challenge at the right time, not the umpire for getting the call right in the first place.

  2. stoutfiles - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    Without replay:

    (a) A critical call was blown;
    (b) the call could not be reviewed because the manager can’t review calls;
    (c) the blown-but-unreviewable call constituted the game’s margin of victory; and
    (d) all of that led to extended delays and manager ejections due to arguing.

    Replay is still better than no replay. If you use your challenges to delay the game on calls the ump made that were correct, you blow your chance to reverse obvious calls. Someday we’ll have replay on everything, but until then, be smart about what you challenge.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      No one is arguing that replay isn’t better than no replay, we are arguing that MLB made a conscious decision to use a system with obvious flaws, instead of using a more preferred system like the one I described above. The entire concept of a challenge system is flawed and completely unnecessary. Even the NFL is seeing that and is slowly moving to a system were challenges are initiated primarily by an official in the sky. Sadly it’s only taken two days for these issues that we all mentioned immediately upon announcement to show up in a ball game.

      • indaburg - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:19 AM

        Exactly. An eye in the sky ump is simple, effective, and fast but instead we got this convoluted arbitrary challenge system. Some replay is better than none, but there are better ways to institute it.

      • stoutfiles - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        You have to take small steps when dealing with the umpire union most likely.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      “…be smart about what you challenge.”

      Well, that is the issue isn’t it? It has nothing to do with being “smart.” It is about guessing how many plays the umps will blow in the course of a game. Perhaps managers will start keeping tabs on umpires proclivities. If Joe West (as an arbitrary example) is likely to blow 4 calls in a game, you’d better save your challenges for the big blown calls instead of wasting them on the small blown calls.

      Now, what happens when West blows his third call against the same team within the first 6 innings? Even if both challenges lead to reversals of the calls on the field, the manager will not be able to request a third review no matter how egregious the blown call is. I don’t expect this to happen every day, but I am sure it will happen more than once per season. This is why the current challenge rules suck. Yes, they are better than no challenges at all, but that is a false dichotomy. The goal should be to get all of the calls right, and the umpires should have access to as many reviews as they need to make that happen.

    • jdillydawg - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:38 AM

      Actually, I’ll argue that no replay is better than any replay. In any sport.

      In my opinion, replay is about making all games perfect. Obviously, last night proved that isn’t really happening. We teach kids how to play sports because it teaches them life skills. Part of those skills are about dealing with adversity, bad calls, and handling things when they don’t go your way. Sure, in a perfect world, instant replay would make everything perfectly fair and it would be just like life, right? Perfectly fair.

      It’s unnecessary. Bottom line. Right up there with red light cameras and the NSA tapping your phone lines. Kill it now before it kills the game.

  3. tylerdierking - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    If the didn’t have replay this year you would be complaining about not having replay. They have replay and you’re complaining that they aren’t doing it right. It’s the first year and the first week of the year. Are they going to be perfect yet? No. Is it ever going to be perfect? No. Replay is advancing every year. Do you really think your idea is something they never considered or thought of? They added cameras to every stadium to get as many angles as possible. They are allowing a coach to challenge a call for the first time in MLB history. If coaches were allowed more challenges or someone was able to stop the game whenever they thought a call was wrong, how delayed will the game become.

    Giving the coach a chance to challenge a play changes the game. It also requires the manager to be smart and tactical with his challenge. I love it. If you use it in the 1st, what makes you think you won’t use it in the 5th.

    Quit complaining and enjoy the game. Being sour about your team not winning and calling for a better replay system after 3 days of baseball is ridiculous. They found the first step of replay and will continue improving it. Your ideas aren’t the best, otherwise they would be doing your idea. Everything in life has flaws. Get over it. If you don’t like how it’s going, stop watching.

    • raysfan1 - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      1) The flaws being demonstrated now were pointed out when the rule was first published, and also in the development stage when it was supposedly one of several options on the table.
      2) The truth that this is better than no replay system does not mean we should not point out those flaws in hopes of having the system improved further. Deciding to “get over it” is opting for stagnation, which is frankly illogical.
      3) Speaking of illogical, getting calls right should not be part of coaches’ strategy. MLB is obligated to do everything it can to ensure all the calls are correct and not have games turn on officiating errors. This is why college and professional football are both making more and more reviews automatic.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        “getting calls right should not be part of coaches’ strategy.”

        This should be written on the front of the umpire manual. Quote of the day.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:12 AM

        “Blame the manager, not the umpire.” -Joe Torre and MLB.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      OK, let me work a little analogy here. You and I work for ACME Corporation and our job involves responding writing memos and general correspondence. Up until last year, we were only provided paper and pens. Customers had been complaining for years about us taking too long to respond and various typos due to an antiquated system. I suggest we purchase computers so that we may use email. The company gives us typewriters. I say “But we can do so much more with computers! It’s the industry standard now! Let’s use current technology available to achieve maximum performance!”

      Your response at this point is basically “Be happy we have typewriters, and if you don’t like it, quit, and shut up, stop hating your job. Typewriters have character.”

      • thetoolsofignorance - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        um. I have a typewriter. I like it. I know. I’m old. But its a beauty. An Underwood #5. A classic. So I’m offended by your blatant anti-typewriterism. Otherwise your analogy is great

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Ron? Is that you?

      • jdillydawg - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:44 AM

        The problem with your argument is that a computer allows you to do MORE, it doesn’t make you any BETTER. Sure, you can respond faster, but if you don’t bother with spell check or check your margins or pay attention to the hacker that just addressed every letter “Dear A-hole,” you’ve got a lot bigger issues on your hands.

        Instant replay actually SLOWS the game down and isn’t 100% effective. How is that computer better than the pen and paper? Seriously, give them a stone tablet and a chisel and let’s play ball.

    • drewsylvania - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      I hate the challenge in the NFL, and I hate it here. The point is that we *knew* the system was trash before it was instituted.

      You sound a little like you’re trying to be a lobbyist.

    • jdillydawg - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:01 AM

      “Get over it. If you don’t like how it’s going, stop watching.”

      That’s funny. That’s like saying, “Hey, if you don’t like the NSA tapping your phone, stop making phone calls.”

      And this one? “Quit complaining and enjoy the game.” Uh, it’s kind of hard to enjoy the game when instant replay is screwing it up. I’d like to enjoy the game. Really, I would. But the introduction of replay into it has made it far less enjoyable.

      Seriously, a challenge? Yeah, that really rates right up there with a manager kicking dirt on the umpire’s shoes and then getting tossed. Yes, those are stories you get to tell your kids now because they’ll never actually see that kind of entertainment. Now it’s, “See how civilized we are Bobby. Look at the nice manager filing his papers to have that call reviewed. Why don’t you finish mowing the lawn and painting the house and by the time you’re back the game might just be under way again!”

  4. mjdkid100 - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    I didnt see these plays so not sure, but he probably shouldn’t have challenged the really close play…?

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      The problem is, managers are forced to decide if they should challenge a close play just in-case there is a closer play later. And if not, then they should have challenged the first play. Again, the system is specifically designed to take the responsibility off the umpires and onto the managers.

      • jdillydawg - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:05 AM

        Well, I think this is a good thing. Why should a manager worry about whether or not to pull his pitcher, or put on the hit and run, and lay down a bunt or a myriad other strategies. Now he’s got something REALLY important to focus on.

        “Uh, hey Bob. Think we should challenge that? What are the odds this could happen again in the next three innings? If we don’t do it, how’s it gonna hurt us? Got a coin?”

  5. drunkenhooliganism - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    I don’t think MLB expected this many calls to be reviewed. They overestimated the competency of the umpires. But, knowing that, Bochy has to keep that review for when he knows the play is blatantly wrong and not wasting it on a bang-bang play at first with one out and the pitcher batting in the fourth inning.

    The manager has to use strategy and/or be sure he’s right.

    The NFL is still tweaking its replay rules every year and they’ve had it since 1986.

    • blabidibla - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      Please correct me if I’m wrong, but in football coaches have people in the box they can communicate with to know exactly how close a play might be. In baseball, that isn’t allowed. If we are going to have this game show style lifeline, managers should have access to someone who can assist in making the call.

      Now don’t get me wrong. I think this is a bad idea that will slow down the game. I think calls should be made right whenever there is doubt. If I had my druthers, I would put the onus on a replay official to make the call to pause the game on close, reviewable plays. I agree it is not the managers job to make sure officials get the calls right.

      • Steve A - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        Each team has a video coach that is allowed to watch the replays and communicate with the dugout about whether to challenge.

      • blabidibla - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        Okay, thanks for clarifying that for me.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      They overestimated the competency of the umpires.

      There were 2,431 major league games last season. Guess how many times an umpire blew the call on a “catch or no catch” play in the outfield — you know, one of those plays we see all the time when the outfielder dives for a ball.

      Okay. Time’s up.


      Umpires are a lot better than we give them credit for.

  6. smcgaels1997 - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Classic. 2 bad calls in same inning and neither overturned. Great system

  7. tylerdierking - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    So if football hasn’t figured out the best way to use replay and they have been using it since the ’80s, why are we expecting baseball to get it right in year 1? Baseball has more bang bang plays then any other sport, so flaws are going to be apart of the game.

    No one said it was going to be perfect, nor do they expect it to be perfect. Madden said we might be doing to much in year 1 of replay and we should take it slower. Managers get it. Players get it. Umps get it. MLB gets that replay isn’t perfect yet and it’s a work in progress…so fans need to cool it on the mutiny of replay or all the rules that we see that the league needs to change (I bet you they see the flaws too, you aren’t seeing anything professionals don’t).

    Like I said, if you don’t like it. Stop watching. If you’re going to watch, stop complaining.

    • Alex K - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      If you don’t like reading people complain about replay don’t read the post. If you’re going to read the post stop complaining. See how that works?

    • stex52 - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Your post is so wrong on so many levels that I had trouble knowing where to start. But I’ll try:

      1. It’s a baseball blog. We’re supposed to talk about what’s going on in baseball.
      2. The system is flawed. Everyone predicted exactly this flaw. Why should we accept it?
      3. If football has been trying for so many years, why didn’t baseball try to learn from their problems? It is actually easier to do with baseball.
      4. What planet do you come from where people don’t comment (Complain) about baseball all the time. Maybe you don’t need to go to blogs.

    • jdillydawg - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:12 AM

      Actually, lots of people said it would be perfect. Most everyone demands it to be perfect. The fact that we have to take replay slowly is a joke.

      Players get it? I doubt it. Umps get it? What they get is their future, which is they have no future. In five years it should all be automated. Try arguing a call with a machine. MLB gets it? Seriously, does Apple launch the new iPhone when it’s only half baked? Apparently MLB likes to launch at the idea stage and then watch the train wreck unfold.

      I’m a fan. Screw you telling me I need to “cool it on the mutiny.” Replay sucks and it will ruin the game. Football already sucks because of it. Seriously, they’ve been trying to figure that out since 1986? 28 freaking years and they can’t get it right? Hey boys, maybe it’s time to put it to bed.

  8. jeffbbf - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Just another “baseball sucks” post by Craig. Yawn. If there were no reply system, the delays would have been longer as the players and manager argued the call. It’s the first year. Let the kinks work themselves out and stop trying to tell everyone you’re smarter than everyone in the MLB front office. You’re not. You write a blog. Bring it back to center.

    • sandwiches4ever - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      So bloggers are only supposed to write about things they agree with?

      I mean, this was something the author (and many commenters) were saying as the rule was being discussed and implemented, and people were saying “the rule hasn’t even been implemented yet, calm down”. Now, 2 days into the season, a perfect example of the problem plenty of people had with the system occurs, and the response is “it’s just the first year, calm down; they know what they’re doing”?

      I hate that complacent attitude of “eh, someone’s looking at it”. Let’s discuss how we can make it better, and point out what can be improved.

  9. shyts7 - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    It’s amazing that college football, and all it gets wrong, actually gets replay right replay right. Lets just tweek it a little where the replay part can be sped up but as someone else said, slow replay is better than no replay.

  10. icanspeel - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    No one thought it’d be a perfect system right off the bat.. but they have to start somewhere and learn from it.

  11. jburk003 - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    I sincerely thank you for posting this again.

    This is a huge issue for baseball. We fans want to see the right calls made on the field. And as a MLB fan, those circumstances last night made me sick. The only way this issue gets fixed is by media attention like yours, Craig.

    And, considering the seemingly east coast bias in baseball, this play was probably not seen by many. So, thank you for taking time to tell people about the blown call. Can’t wait to read the “preschool” comment/statement by the mlb on the issue.

  12. tylerdierking - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    stex52 I’m assuming your comment was directed towards me? Maybe?

    1. If I can comment on your complaining, isn’t that me complaining about your complaining? Therefore, I’m doing what the point of a blog is and arguing because my opinion is different? Blogs talk about what goes on in sports but it’s also someone’s option that you subject to others opinions.

    2. Every form of replay in every sport is flawed. Everything in life is flawed. If you can name one thing in life that isn’t flawed then I will be amazed. No one is accepting flaws, but until you fail or show weakness in a new concept, how do we know what to improve or if our ideas are right or not?

    3. Replays aren’t easy in any sport. It’s easier to see if someone gets two feet in bounce or caught the ball before hitting the ground then it is a bomb bomb play at first. Football has yet to get it perfect, but how have they gotten this far in trying to perfect replay? By trial and error. Using the same replay ideas in football and baseball is like comparing apples to oranges right now. Baseball is a long game and requires players to “stay warm”. Pitches can’t go every inning and wait for a call reversal. They lose rhythm and their arms get tight. Delays hurt baseball, not improve baseball. In football, the odds of having 3 close plays in a row are highly unlikely. In baseball we could easily have 3 close plays at 1B in a row. Would you want to delay the game every time because it was close? As I said, baseball is more of a rhythm sport then football. Break the rhythm of the pitchers constantly and the quality outings might decrease significantly. My last statement, when you build a building you don’t go to some other buildings blueprints and copy everything they did. You start from the bottom and work your way up.

    4. Revert back to point number 1.

    • stex52 - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      Item #1 – We’re all here to discuss/complain. Suggesting that we stop watching if we want to complain is not reasonable. We should all complain all we want. Part of the fun.

      Item #3 – Number one, the practical consideration is that the large majority of plays will not be subject – either because they have been declared off limits or the call isn’t really in doubt. What you see as the delay problem is a function of the challenge system. But the challenge system is where they went wrong from the start. Without that, most of the other difficulties go away. Leave the umpires with the autonomy to decide what gets reviewed. They may not all be good, but they want to get it right. If they allow egregious errors to stand, that is a discipline problem.

      As to building something new, inaccurate analogy. I promise that the engineering staff is going to look at the last building (or bridge or airplane or chemical plant) that was built with that design and do a thorough study of the strengths and weaknesses. That analysis will carry forward into the new design decisions made, if they are competent.

      As to the rest, carry on. See, complaining about baseball is fun.

  13. Carl Hancock - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Funny, I saw the play at first when it happened and said to my coworker Bochy was dumb for wasting a challenge on it. Save it for something critical like a blow call at the plate, etc. and not a close play at 1B where the Umps were correct to begin with and it wasn’t obvious the umps got the call wrong because they did. I didn’t watch the rest of the game. Guess I was right. Maybe Bochy will hold on to his challenge for something more questionable in the future, I think if anyone learned a lesson here, it’s him. Just because you have a challenge doesn’t mean you need to use it every game. Bochy used it like he had a stack of get one challenge free cards in the dugout. Stupid.

  14. tylerdierking - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM


    I highly doubt MLB is looking at blogs to figure out solutions to problems. The idea that no one in MLB is looking to constantly improve the replay system is absurd as well. They’ve said this is year 1 of a long process. Madden from TB said they might have bitten off more than they could chew in year 1 and they hardly have anything set up in replay. The league is going to work on it, and nothing some fans from a blog can can change the minds of MLB. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, so get use to it instead of fighting it.

    • jdillydawg - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:17 AM

      Are we looking at a 28 year “process” like the NFL tyler?

      That’s not a process, that’s torture.

  15. Steve A - Apr 2, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Why they didn’t choose to review all plays at the plate will be a mystery to me. That’s a simple solution for critical calls.

  16. deep64blue - Apr 2, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Bochy blew it with the challenge – replay is supposed to be for obvious errors not close-as plays.

  17. norcaldeportes - Apr 2, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    The replay was wasted. Sure, that’s on Bochy. But the blown call at the plate was the bigger problem. The runner nearly sprained his ankle when it got caught in the webbing of Cain’s glove before it even touched home plate. How he missed that in the first place is beyond me.

    • illuminancer - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      Before issuing the challenge, Bochy had to get confirmation from his guys that the play was questionable. Since the umpire initially started to call Pollock out before changing his mind mid-gesture, this was a reasonable assumption.

      By the time the review process started, TV viewers had seen 4 different angles of the play, 3 of which clearly showed Belt layin the tag down before Pollock’s fingers touched the bag, and one where it was hard to see because Belt’s big foot was in the way. When they showed it on the big screen at Chase, Pollock mouthed “They got me.”

      The current system means that the manager has to become a psychic, and anticipate how many bad calls will be made later in the game before challenging one that even the umpire who made it wasn’t sure on. That’s ridiculous.

  18. mikhelb - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Instead of saying there is an “arbitrary seventh inning rule” I’d say that having an amount of “challenges” is arbitrary, same for the “if you incorrectly invoked a challenge to review a play you lose a second review”.

    Either the whole rule is arbitrary or no part of it is.

  19. psly2124 - Apr 2, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    You can blame the loss on bochy. He had zero reason the challenge the pickoff play at first base. None. He felt he would lose his opportunity so he should use it. Wrong the player was obviously safe. Challenge wasted. And the play at the plate where bochy could have used the replay was very close. Could have went either way. The reason teams only get one challenge is that managers would be using it on every single close play. They have nothing to do in the dugout except to challenge plays.

    • illuminancer - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      How can you say the runner was obviously safe when the 1B umpire started to call him out and changed his mind as he was going into the “out” gesture? Or that Pollock said “They got me” when they showed it on the big screen?

      The play at the plate wasn’t that close, either. Had Pollock put his foot down as the tag was being applied, we’d be talking about how Cain was headed to the DL. Frankly, if a scoring play is that close it should trigger an automatic review.

  20. moogro - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Oof. That game made me livid.

    First, they used replay on that play at first, and on one angle showed he was out- easily. Not simultaneously. The play-by-play guys in booth all commented that he was out as we watched the replay. Already we don’t have confidence that the umps are watching the monitors.
    Secondly, the ump was practically leaning over looking at Cain’s glove on the tag at home. And now arbitrarily not reviewable? That cost the Giants the game. This is a big scandal.

  21. sonoco - Apr 2, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    I think the close pick-off play that Bochy challenged would have been reversed, but Belt’s foot obstructed the best camera angle thus making it inconclusive. Manager’s will never be able to figure flukes like that into the decision making metric. It simply comes down to the fact that the 7th inning rule makes no sense.

  22. byjiminy - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    Craig, you managed to present my own opinion, support it with arguments that I also agree with, and yet leaving me feeling that you completely distorted the issue by unfairly misrepresenting the other side.

    Nowhere in your article do you even acknowledge that there is another side. But there is. Everything involves tradeoffs. Your arguments can all be correct, but the correct decision may still not be obvious.

    One obvious point is there is a cost to every replay, and it is a long, boring delay. I watched the link you provided and it was excruciatingly dull.

    Sure I would prefer for all the calls to be correct. But sitting through that was an undeniably painful tradeoff. Did everyone watch that clip all the way through? Care to do so again?

    Second, as the same clip demonstrates, replay is no panacaea. Even with video review, satisfaction was not produced. Because, like many replays, it was genuinely inconclusive. I could not tell exactly when the glove made contact with the baserunner, and when the baserunner’s hand touched the base. It looked to me like the player was probably out, but not indisputably. As a reviewing official, I would not have reversed the call either. So, the delay was for nought and did not remove frustration or injustice but increased it. As you point out yourself, this will happen a lot, too. Even with replay, the outcome will frequently hinge on the original call, not by the best available evidence.

    You could argue that the standard of proof for overturning a call could simply be changed from indisputable evidence of error to the preponderance of evidence. That would replace one problem with another. It would simply mean that a different team could justifiably claim they had lost a game based on a bad call. Only they would be even more outraged, because what they, and the umpire, saw as the correct call had been arbitrarily overturned by an unaccountable man in a booth. Many videos are simply not conclusive. There’s no way around it.

    Finally, as the announcers point out in the clip above, replay delays are hard on the pitcher. This is a definite cost even when it only happens occasionally. If challenges were literally unlimited, the system could be gamed by opposing managers to mess with the pitcher.

    You could solve the gaming issue by putting all replay challenges solely in the hands of the umpires — but would then lead to controversy when umpires chose not to review calls. Which would in turn put pressure on them to review all calls, however petty, slowing the game drastically, or creating a situation where some disputed calls are not reviewed. There is no option without a cost of some sort. And pitchers (and their teams and fans) will inevitably suffer no matter who calls for a replay, which is a valid argument for minimizing such delays.

    On the very same day you found an example supporting your (and my) viewpoint, a counter-example was also published, in which the correct use of a single replay event ALSO arguably cost a team a game.

    When I went from this website to check on hometown Twins at, the top headline on the sports page was for a video titled,

    “Replay challenge chased Correia from game,”

    And the lead to the story of the Twins’ loss was,

    “Baseball’s replay-challenge rule is brand new this year, as is Samuel Deduno’s role in the Twins bullpen. Both still have a few bugs to be worked out.

    “Manager Ron Gardenhire successfully objected to a call on the field in replay’s first-ever use in a Twins game Wednesday, but the deliberation took so long, Gardenhire felt it necessary to pull his starting pitcher. Deduno made his first relief appearance in three years, and his pitches were moving so much, two of them got past catcher Kurt Suzuki, including the game-winner.”

    Sure, other factors went into the final outcome as well–just as with your example above. But it sucks that the Twins lost a game Correia seemed to have had in hand. Who knows how many times that will happen again?

    My point is simply, all your arguments can be sound, but unless you respectfully present and assess the opposing viewpoints, you’re not presenting the whole picture. This is not a court of law, where you are supposed to present just one side, as devastatingly as possible. In journalism, you are supposed to pursue the truth. And it’s just not that simple.

  23. Bob Loblaw - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    The current replay system isn’t all that bad, but one thing that MLB definitely screwed up on was not learning from the mistakes of the early NFL system and implementing it as the NFL system works today. EVERY SINGLE PLAY AT THE PLATE SHOULD BE REVIEWED. Because those are the major plays. Again…without counting as a challenge to the manager..EVERY SINGLE PLAY AT THE PLATE SHOULD BE REVIEWED. It’s not as if the game starts within a couple minutes after a run scores anyway, so why not make them all reviewable for free? The NFL didn’t do this when it first started, now it does. And it reviews all turnovers too. The idea should be that if the play results in a run, then it has to be reviewed no matter what…whether it be a close home run, or a close play at the plate. The fact that they didn’t get this right is really ridiculous because they had the NFL to learn it from and instead did not institute it.

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