Commissioner Bud Selig announced Thursday at a press conference in Cooperstown, New York that Major League Baseball will be putting in place a challenge system,
similar to the one already used in the NFL. Managers will be allowed two challenges over the first six innings of a ball game and one challenge after the seventh inning. Challenges will be reviewed by a crew in New York City.
The new rule has to be approved by 75% of the owners and will be voted on in November, as well as approved by the umpires and players unions.
This new rule creates a problem. While replay and challenges are probably long overdue in baseball, do managers really need three per game? Technically a manager could challenge anything during the course of a game, allowing his bullpen to get loose or his coffee to get warm, etc. etc. etc..
In a sport already plagued by complaints of slow pacing, 3 challenges will do nothing to curb that ailment. A 3 hour game can and will turn into a 4 hour game. This will hinder baseball in bringing in new fans, retaining the casual fan, and will irritate the traditionalist baseball diehards.
I consider myself a baseball purest of sorts. I don’t read too much into sabermetrics (although I do find some stats useful), and am attracted to the human element of the sport. While I agree that in this era of advanced technology a replay system is needed, I don’t agree with Selig’s new plan.
The flow of the game will be disrupted, the system will be abused, and MLB will be changed for the worse. Imagine Bochy demanding a replay, the umpires make the call to the review office in New York and get this message: “hold please, we are reviewing a foul call in Kansas City, be right with you”.
While I’m sure there will be more than one crew analyzing review calls, problems like this will happen. As more details come out about how the system will work, I’m sure we will be better able to make a call about the level of absurdity of it all.
We have seen our fair share of terrible umpiring this season as fans, and more than once (sometimes per game) wished there was a replay system. There has to be a better way to do this though – perhaps in-stadium replay for starters. While the thought is in the right place I believe, I don’t see this challenge system lasting long. I fully expect continued debate and change as baseball sees the game morphed into a nightly 4 hour snooze-fest.
Hopefully I’m wrong and this all works out.
UPDATE-Here are some details of the new replay system courtesy of csnbayarea.com:
“A manager who sees a call he feels is incorrect can file a challenge with the crew chief or home plate umpire. Only reviewable plays can be challenged. Non-reviewable plays can still be argued by managers, who can request that the umpires discuss it to see if another member of the crew saw the play differently.
Reviewable plays cannot be argued by the manager.
Challenges not used in the first six innings will not carry over, and a manager who wins a challenge will retain it.
The home run replay rules currently in use will be grandfathered in to the new system.”