As Cubs prospects continue to blister the baseball in the Arizona Fall League, Major League Baseball is going to perform their own experiment with replay expansion. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, MLB will start testing the newly proposed replay systems next week. The parameters are kind of ambiguous right now, which is expected for something still in the testing stages, but it’s a step in the right direction. As baseball fans, we want to make sure the call is made correctly without disrupting the flow of the game too much. Then again, with manager arguments taking forever and the pitchers and hitters taking time to chew their cud, adjust their cups, step in/out of the box/rubber etc etc., the time spent on a replay challenge might be negligible.
What I don’t like is this:
The testing is likely to determine the method by which managers challenge, whether it’s a challenge flag, like the NFL, or simply stepping out of the dugout to inform the umpires that they want to ask for replay. The plan includes one manager challenge in the first six innings and two over the final three innings, though depending on what testing shows, that, too could be amended. Fall league managers may be given a different number of challenges each game to give MLB a greater sense of what the proper amount would be.
In my opinion, leaving it up to a manager challenge seems silly. With replay technology the way it is, and with balls/strikes not part of replay (and I’m not sure it should be even though we bitch about inconsistent strike calls all the time), it would be easy to put an eye-in-the-sky umpire in a room with all kinds of video equipment and radio in the amended call almost immediately. I assume that umpires make quite a bit of money, though, and such a position would be costly. And as we all know, MLB owners don’t always like to spend money.
I’m very interested to see how the replay system unfolds as MLB prepares for 2014. Hopefully permanently bad calls decrease in number next season and we’ll find something else to complain about.