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Joe Torre is somehow surprised that managers are using replay as it was designed to be used

May 29, 2014, 9:14 AM EDT

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Ken Rosenthal talks to Joe Torre about replay today. Mostly about the delays and the number of challenges. It’s rather interesting to hear Torre’s general stance and demeanor about it all, as he sounds genuinely surprised about things he should not be at all surprised about.

Specifically, about the delays managers cause while waiting for their review team to tell him if he should challenge or not. And the sheer number of challenges. Here he’s talking about how there have been far more challenges than he and Tony La Russa anticipated:

“I know Tony was preaching this from Day One: ‘Guys, go out there if it’s an obvious miss . . . But there have been so many of these bang-bang calls that have been challenged, and a number have been overturned. Probably more have been challenged than we anticipated, especially in situations that didn’t seem (critical) — and, as a former manager, I know there is no such thing as an unimportant time in a game. I think we’ve had a lot more things challenged — man at first, two outs, things of that nature.”

Torre adds that he thinks a lot of managers are challenging — or at least walking out onto the field to consider challenging — based on the reaction of his players to calls on the field as opposed to a call clearly being missed and it having a real chance of being overturned.

I’m not sure why any of this is surprising to him. The biggest reasons managers get criticized and/or fired is by either appearing to be passive figures who let opportunities pass by or by losing the clubhouse. You give a manager a tool to get even a slight edge and to appear a bit more proactive, he’s gonna use it. You give a manager an extra chance to show he has his players’ backs, he’s gonna take it. Torre and La Russa should know that better than anyone.

To be fair, Torre is right that, overall, game times are only up by about three minutes a game. And I would say that, results-wise, replay has been a success so far. But the delays are annoying and the number of replays would be far, far less — and far, far less intrusive — if they were taken out of managers’ hands and placed in the hands of a person in the booth with access to the game and camera feeds who can overturn bad calls as he sees them. Such a person could exercise judgment on those bang-bang plays Torre and La Russa would like to see too.

Of course, I and many others argued this two or three years before this challenge system went on line. Major League Baseball didn’t listen then, so I doubt they have any intention of listening now, no matter how surprised they somehow are.

  1. williamnyy23 - May 29, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    I don’t get the concern over the delays. After all, just about every call that a manager considers challenging would probably elicit a discussion/argument on the field anyway, except now those “meetings” only last a couple of minutes.

    • clydeserra - May 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      the only thing that has changed is we don’t have those idiotic brim to brim arguments anymore.

      Although I suppose that robs us of vin scully lip reading. “he was safe, he was safe, bob. that’s manure”

    • dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      The delays in themselves aren’t such a huge deal. If they were necessary to implement replay, it would be a small price to pay.

      But what is annoying is that they are completely unnecessary. A better system is possible (as many people have repeatedly pointed out, and has been proven in other sports), but MLB chose the system that causes delays.

  2. clydeserra - May 29, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    what are these “obvious misses” he talks about? I see bang bang plays that we know from years of watching baseball could go either way, but are usually called correctly.

    And since he is a former manager, doesn’t he know that the person who has the best angle on the play is necessarily going to be the player involved? Deosn’t he know that the manager has a crappy view of any play?

  3. DelawarePhilliesFan - May 29, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    It is so rare in life that College Football gets something right. College football is terrible. It’s a weaker version of the NFL (and yes it is), it has the asinine OT rule so that games are decided in a fashion that doesn’t even remotely resemble the first 60 minutes, and it absolutely kills overall sports programs in the NCAA. That said…..why has NO OTHER PROFESSIONAL SPORT figured out how well the replay system works in college football???? They have a replay ref. He looks at…..replays! If it looks odd – he calls down and says “let me look at this”. Then he makes a call. Shocking concept, isn’t it?

    Put a 5th ump in the booth at every game. Umps will love it (more job security), fans will love it (quick replays, and more calls correct….in theory), teams will love it (I don’t think any manager loves running out to stall), and MLB will have to pay $3million a year I additional salary

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 29, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      Doesn’t the NHL have a central replay system that the refs tap into?

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 29, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        The NHL replay isn’t as pro-active. All goals are reviewed but outside of that the booth doesn’t call down to inform the ref of anything else, the ref initializes reviews. But yes, they have a centralized reply system in Toronto.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - May 29, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        True. But unless I am mistaken, they only review goals, which is why I was saying CF was the model to follow

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - May 29, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        But yes – I said “pro sports” when I really should have said MLB and the NFL

    • billybawl - May 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      I probably agree with you, but I am a little concerned with umps initiating all reviews. It’s basically asking an ump to decide when a fellow ump may have missed a call. There is a risk that this authority would be abused — either by a review ump trying to “protect” his drinking buddy or even retaliating against an ump he doesn’t like. On the flip side, you’d think that public scrutiny would squash any nonsense, but we’ve seen umps that really don’t care about what anyone thinks of them. At least with the current system, the managers initiate most reviews so there’s sort of a check and balance.

  4. pete2112 - May 29, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    I really like Joe Torre, but his stance on this is really off in my opinion. If a manager has a chance to replay, he’s going to do it regardless of the delay it puts on the game. This is baseball, a game that is slow and drawn out with each at bat. The replay is not slowing it down anymore than when a batter steps out of the box after every pitch to adjust his batting gloves or when a pitcher takes an en eternity between each pitch. I have no doubt if Joe was still managing he would take every opportunity allotted to him to replay a questionable call. MLB should really look into ways at speeding up the game but as far as replay in concerned, I don’t have an issue waiting a few minutes to get a bad call reversed. Just my .02.

    • raysfan1 - May 29, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Speeding up the game would be easy. There are already rules in the books requiring the batter to get ready in a timely fashion and even time limit for the pitcher to deliver the pitch. Just enforce the rules.

  5. [citation needed] fka COPO - May 29, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    especially in situations that didn’t seem (critical)

    And this is the crux of the matter. What may not seem critical, can in fact be game changing. Run expectancy charts, context neutral, with the worse scoring environment (’50 to ’68)

    0 outs, man on first: 0.837
    1 outs, no one on: 0.256

    Over half a run difference is huge. And the more runners you add, the higher the run expectancy increases depending on a change to base/out status (i.e. 1st/2nd no outs vs 1st/1 out, etc).

    But then again, La Russa thinks:
    La Russa said. “So the approach here, what we found to be effective, is to balance the great information and then allow your uniformed people to watch the game that day and make decisions based on what their gut is screaming.”

    • paperlions - May 29, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Yeah, I love that. Balanced to him means having great information and then ignoring it all.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 29, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        TomTango made a great point a few weeks back when he said [paraphrasing]

        I’ll give you the eye test for the game you are watching. But what are you going to do about the other 2300+ games a year that you can’t watch?

        So La Russa might know the proper moves in a situation he’s seen before, but what about the thousands he hasn’t seen?

      • paperlions - May 29, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        Not to mention the fact that Tony is susceptible to all of the same biases than anyone else is….sunk costs, confirmation bias, recency bias, etc. Not only is he using a tiny fraction of the data, but his ability to process that data in an unbiased fashion is horrible (just like everyone else).

  6. scoutsaysweitersisabust - May 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    If only someone could have warned Torre and MLB that this might happen….Oh wait. WE DID!

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 29, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    I suppose this is why managers need a limited number of challenges in the current system. Otherwise, they have some incentive to review everything. But I agree some neutral party (replay ref) would be a better solution.

    • moogro - May 29, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      No party should have their right to challenge taken away. Review everything close, overturn when necessary, and play the best angle at the stadium. Just like watching the broadcast at home. It’s fast, simple, inevitable.

  8. barrybondsisthealltimehomerunking - May 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    So the wrong call that’s close shouldn’t be challenged according to Joe? Pathetic. Also I would like this time to recommend pitch fx call balls and strikes starting today. Thank you.

  9. jm91rs - May 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I don’t know why everyone expected a perfect system right off the bat. Give it a few years and the tweaks will be made so that most complaints go away.

    • moogro - May 29, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Nobody expected perfect. Just not this.

  10. droman79 - May 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Who is annoyed by the delays? The debates during the replay is the most exciting part of the game these days (admitted Met fan… so yes, replays are truly the most fun part of the game).

  11. tved12 - May 29, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    I do get annoyed by the managers stalling to see if they should challenge. I would like them to centralize the replay then set some rules to keep the managers off the field. Baseball is already a slow enough game, they don’t need to have this extra BS to make it any slower, not even 3 minutes longer.

    I have to wonder, if you removed all the times coaches go onto the field w/o calling time, how much shorter would games be?

  12. kardshark1 - May 29, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    People are strange.

    Let’s see… We can play the game with more truer results or less truer results. Let’s choose less truer results cause it’s 3 minutes faster.

    There are so many ways to shave 3 minutes off a game, making the outcome less true should be the LAST option.

    • apeville - May 29, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      I agree with this one- but let’s do something about the batter’s box step out. If you applied a one step out rule to BJ Upton most Braves games would be 20 minutes shorter.

  13. psly2124 - May 29, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    Torre is the most overrated manager of all time. And he would have been doing the same exact thing.

  14. vallewho - May 29, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    Clueless Joe.

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