Report: MLB Replay Will Include Manager Challenges

Thearon W. Henderson

We've all been clamoring for replay review. We're apparently going to get it. Of course, there's a catch.

Major League Baseball is poised to announce a replay review system for 2014 that will review almost every call except for balls and strikes. (And at this point, those need review too, but that's for another article.)

Here's something that might turn out to be controversial:

Craig Calcaterra, among others, says this is an "idiotic" idea, and he has a point:

Put in a challenge system and the manager has to decide: "hmmm, should I say something about that obvious mistake the umpires just made, or should I let if pass in case there’s another mistake later?"  It’s a total passing of the buck.

It also adds more of what MLB is trying to get rid of with replay: managers on the field, interrupting the flow of the game, arguing things. Only now instead of calls they’ll be arguing about challenges.  And if a manager uses up his challenge because of earlier screwups, he’ll just come out and argue about later screwups the old fashioned way. This also creates a greater potential for even more adversarial umpire-manager-player interactions, as it not only increases the amount of managers and players second guessing umps, it DEMANDS that they do, which will certainly impact umpire habits and demeanor.

The National Hockey League system, where reviewable plays are looked at in a central location and the corrections (if needed) are relayed to the officials on site, is in my view the best of all possible systems. Umpires at baseball parks could have a cellphone system located on the field where they could call in to the central location (perhaps located at MLB Network HQ in New Jersey) to get the calls. Quick and easy. Or, they could do this:

Now, Eric Fisher's tweet doesn't tell us everything about what a "challenge" system might entail. Perhaps it could be workable; Vorwald's idea (which I have also previously advocated) could also work. But in general, such a system could result in the things that Calcaterra mentions. It's just another example of how tone-deaf Bud Selig and his crew are to the realities of modern baseball.

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