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Bud Black’s attempted replay challenge deemed “untimely” — which is kind of absurd

Apr 3, 2014, 8:26 AM EST

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.25.13 AM Getty Images

Bud Black tried to use a replay challenge in last night’s Dodgers-Padres game. It came in the first inning when Yasiel Puig laid down a sacrifice bunt (he’s always giving himself up for the good of his team; just a standup, selfless guy he is) and reached when Padres pitcher Tyson Ross‘ throw pulled Yonder Alonso off the bag. Puig’s called safe.

Black — after talking to his coach who is on a phone, presumably with a Padres replay assistant — walks out to challenge. The umpires convene for a second and then decide that the replay challenge was not issued quickly enough. Under the rules, you see, the manager must “immediately” inform the crew chief if he plans to challenge the play. Black’s challenge was not “immediate.” Which I won’t dispute, as the pitcher had taken the rubber and the batter had entered the batters box. The Padres’ catcher had even gone out to the mound to talk to the pitcher to buy some time.

Ss we’ve seen in the first few games of the season, however, managers have taken to popping out of the dugout pretty immediately on challenge plays, yet take their sweet time in actually saying they want to challenge. They do this so that their replay assistants can review the play and let them know whether it’s worth using the challenge. Someone flashes the manager a thumbs-up or thumbs-down or something as he’s killing time. That’s why the batter isn’t in the batter’s box and the pitcher hasn’t taken the rubber in so-called “timely” challenges. A manager is on the field. It’s just as much of a delay in that situation as Black’s delay here. One is allowed, one is not.

As for this challenge: they don’t have the video clip of it up on MLB.com, but I just watched it on MLB.tv and, for what it’s worth, the play was pretty darn close. Many times a game the umpire will call the runner out when the fielder’s foot is off the bag in the same fashion Yonder Alonso’s foot was off the bag here:

source:

It’s sort of a mini-neighborhood play for first baseman. The difference here was that Alonso was leaning to reach for the ball, not just moving his foot a bit early in a casual fashion like you see many first basemen do, so it’s more likely that umpires will look more closely at the footwork. I get that.

But I also get the absurdity of all of this. A clear takeaway is that managers are incentivized to get out onto the field fast and delay things while their staff deliberates challenges. If you do what Bud Black apparently did and wait to know if you want to use a challenge before issuing it, you’re out of luck because you are deemed to have delayed things unnecessarily.

Which, in this case, was determined only after a long delay occasioned by an umpires meeting in which whether Black delayed things too much was discussed.

  1. Rich Stowe - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    just another reason that all the close plays should automatically be reviewed immediately – it can happen faster if someone in a booth looks at it right away (and buzzes the umps to let them know a replay is happening to ensure play doesn’t continue on the off chance a pitcher actually “hurries” up)

  2. larrytsg - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    I kind of like this aspect of review. I never liked the way football does it, where some “coaches” are watching in the skybox, and eventually tell the manager something they learned from instant replay.

    I think the intent of baseball instant replay is for the manager to “react” the same way he would without replay, that is, he has to feel that the ruling isn’t right, not that he asked someone to review the video and tell him the call isn’t right.

    I also think that the tactic of batters being slow to the box or pitcher slow to the ribber is fine, but if the next batter is in the box, and the pitcher is on the rubber, then the game is on to the next play, and the previous one cannot be reviewed. Kind of like trying to do a quick snap in football.

  3. phipfwe76 - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    No post about the reviewed “neighborhood play” in Pittsburgh last night? Or the 5 minute review of a tipped foul ball in the same inning?

    That’s something I’d like to see everyone’s opinion on.

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      It wasn’t a neighborhood play, by definition. A poor throw pulled the fielder off the bag.

      • phipfwe76 - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        I agree. But with all this fuss on replay starting, I felt the 8th inning of that game was at least worth a mention on here.

      • 6superbowls - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Maybe the throw pulled the fielder off the bag? Maybe the replay guy needed to look at Rizzo and review where the runner was in relation to the bag? Not even close. I’m all for replay review if it means getting it right. If you’re going to have replay review, review the ENTIRE play and make the proper call.

        The Marte “foul ball” while bunting wasn’t even close. Ball never came close to hitting the bat, yet replay man said it did.

        Get it right or get rid of it.

  4. glennsyank13 - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    It takes 1 or 2 replays to realize if the call is correct on TV. And those are shown in a few seconds after the play. Just take an extra second to get every call right. If you can’t tell after 2 replays, then let the call stand on the field.

  5. paperlions - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    In the Pirates-Cubs game last night, a guy was picked off 1st and the runner immediately made a signal to the dugout to challenge. Hurdle came out to discuss the play while waiting to hear from their video guy, the dugout then signaled to Hurdle NOT to challenge.

    The fun part, the crew chief (who was at 3B), smiled and applauded his 1st base ump colleague for getting the call right. That is exactly the attitude that umps should have….we all know these calls are difficult; they should take pride in the fact that they get most of these really really close plays correct, not bristle at the fact that sometimes they don’t. No one could get them all correct.

  6. holleywood9 - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    First basemen don’t pull their feet early as u seem to suggest here. It just looks that way sometimes. But their foot is on the bag in every play that doesn’t pull them off

  7. icanspeel - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    The funny part about this too is that after Black went to go challenge and they denied it.. it took 3-4 minutes for them to discuss why it’s not being challenged and to resume play. Didn’t exactly save any time not looking at it.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Not to mention, a terribly boring discussion.

      Lou Pinella does not abide.

  8. Steve A - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Doesn’t the rule state that a manager must challenge a play before the pitcher is on the rubber and the batter is in the batter’s box? If that’s the case, which I believe it to be, then the umps were right by the rule to not allow the challenge.

    • dan1111 - Apr 3, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      Yes, we understand that is the rule. The discussion is about whether it is a good rule.

  9. creek0512 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    The goal of replay should be to get the calls right, not create a mini sideshow, as it has already become after 3 days.

  10. stupidusername - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    The challenge system sucks, but I don’t need players and managers delaying the game on every single close play just waiting for a signal from the dugout. They’re so worried maybe they shouldn’t challenge and lose it that they’ll hold up the game. If every close play is followed by players standing around waiting for the go ahead to play because the replay assistant got time to review the play then get rid of it. They had 3 major sports with replay rules they could study and they went and chose the worst possible course.

  11. campcouch - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Ah,the “neighborhood play”. I can’t wait for the replay of a second baseman who is 4 feet off the bag and the ump calls a force out. I guess my little league coaches failed in teaching that. “Step on the bag” obviously derailed my budding career.

  12. Senor Cardgage - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Actually this is an example of the system working. We don’t need to review every close call. If the call doesn’t look blown to the naked eye from the dugout enough for the manager to come out and argue immediately, then the call on the field should stand.

    • bh192012 - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Agree. The system is designed to motivate managers to not use replay for every little close call. The point of replay is to get right the obviously bad calls. Not the close ‘judgement’ calls.

      If it’s that close that you need a team of people to deliberate the thing for 10 minutes, just move on.

    • dan1111 - Apr 3, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      The problem is, it encourages the manager to come out and stand on the field after each close play, until the coaches decide whether to challenge it. It will likely increase delays compared to a system in which the managers could wait a little longer.

  13. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I thought the argument was whether Puig ran within the baseline and somehow altered the throw. What a ridiculous situation that would have been if replay showed the umpires an angle “proving” inside baseline thereby calling him out and returning Crawford to 2nd. That would have been major bull doodies.

  14. Carl Hancock - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Am I the only one looking at that screen capture and wondering how Craig can assert his foot was off the bag? Because from what I see there is no way to tell from that angle. His foot could easily be touching the side of the bad which is where the first baseman typically touches the bag.

  15. rcj22001 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    give them a ‘shot clock’ that starts as soon as the umpire calls time once the play has ended??

    • gloccamorra - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      No,no,NO! Baseball is a game without a clock, and it should stay that way. Sure, a Yankees-Red Sox night game might take so long it runs into the pre-game warm-ups fo a day game the next day, but that’s the chance we have to take. A baseball game doesn’t end until the last out is made, let the other sports ‘run out the clock’, killing the drama of a last minute rally.

  16. evanpenn - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    Each dugout should have a challenge button that must be pressed within, say 10 seconds of the play ending. Or better yet, each manager should have this beeper sized button on his belt. That way he wouldn’t need to go running for the button, we don’t want to see any challenge-related injuries…

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