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MLB Replay Challenge System Will Remain Intact For 2015

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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Last week, we learned that MLB was going to try to tweak the replay system to eliminate the "manager moonwalk," in which managers would walk out to umpires watching for a dugout signal as to whether the play was worth reviewing.

The system could use another tweak, in my view: get rid of the "challenge" system entirely and figure out a way to review all questionable calls. This wouldn't slow down games as much as you think -- according to the MLB Replays Twitter account, which tweets every review made, there were 1,260 reviews in the 2014 season, including the postseason. That's an average of less than one review every two games. Here's another list of all the 2014 reviews, via Retrosheet.

That's why this is so disappointing:

Major League Baseball COO and commissioner-elect Rob Manfred said Thursday, at the conclusion of MLB’s quarterly owners’ meetings, that the manager-challenge format, with each skipper getting one challenge per game and then a second one if his first challenge succeeds in overturning an umpire’s call, would remain intact.

"I think the core of replay is going to be similar," Manfred said. "I think the changes that we’re contemplating are largely technology, cameras, things like that. There are some issues related to exactly how long it takes to get the replay going that we’re looking at."

"Technology and stuff," right, Rob?

The point of having a review system is to get the calls right. I get why they have to have a challenge system in the NFL, because there are so many different types of plays that could be reviewed and so many close calls (on boundary calls, incomplete passes, etc.) that if every close play were reviewed, games would take nine hours.

That isn't the case in baseball. As noted, with the average fewer than 0.5 review per game, many games don't have any reviews. Allowing all close plays to be reviewed would increase the average, to be sure, but not by any significant amount. Further, if managers knew they could ask for a review right away instead of doing the "moonwalk," the average time per review would shrink. One thing they could do is limit the time of a review to the time of an inning break -- two minutes, 25 seconds. If the reviewers can't figure it out in that amount of time, the result should be "call stands." As you can see in the Retrosheet link, most of the reviews were fairly short, but some were over four minutes, which is way too long.

Perhaps the more progressive forces in baseball can convince the new commissioner, once he's actually in office, to institute better changes to the review rules. At least we have review; that's a step in the right direction and the system worked pretty well, overall, in 2014. Over time, hopefully it will become the best review system in pro sports.