SBD/April 2, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Did D-Backs-Giants Missed Call Expose Holes In MLB's New Replay System?

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Bochy used manager's challenge minutes before blown call at homeplate
MLB's replay system is a "shiny new toy -- one that came with jagged edges for the Giants" during last night's game against the D-Backs, making it the "focus of the evening," according to Harry Schulman of the S.F. CHRONICLE. With the Giants leading 4-2 in the fifth inning and D-Backs CF A.J. Pollock on first base with two outs, Giants P Matt Cain "made a pickoff throw," and 1B Brandon Belt "applied a tag." Giants replay reviewer Shawon Dunston "saw something on replay to warrant a challenge" and informed manager Bruce Bochy. The ensuing 3-minute official review "seemed interminable," and "ultimately, it went nowhere," as the safe call was upheld. The "long replay delay left Cain hanging on the mound," and Bochy said that he was "hoping to save Cain pitches and get out of the inning by having the pickoff call reversed." He "made no apologies for challenging" the call, "even though he had no challenges later in the inning for a blown call at the plate that cost the Giants a run." Bochy said, "If we think the call is not right, we're going to challenge it" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/2). CSNBAYAREA.com's Andrew Baggarly wrote Cain and Bochy "did not make any rash statements or call for the baby to be thrown out with the bathwater." MLB officials "expected the replay system would require some tweaks," and if the "impetus behind this confusing tangle of rules is to get calls right, an overhaul might be more in order." Rather than "lambaste the umpire, Cain empathized with him." The replay system is one that "went through countless revisions over the winter; even as late as February" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 4/1).

WORK TO BE DONE: ESPN’s Manny Acta said, “Don’t tell me that we have fixed the game completely. We have made it better a little bit. But if you blow your challenge on the first out, then you won’t be able to challenge for five innings. … You are going to have cases like this. He can go out and argue that one and still you don’t have a crystal ball. When are you going to be able to pick the right challenge? You never know. It showed there. He went and challenged one of them and then the very next one he was out of a challenge and it cost him” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 4/1).

REVISING REPLAY: ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote Bochy after the game "said all the right things." Olney: "After having talked with a lot of other managers and club executives, this much is evident: 1. Just about everybody is excited about the new and improved form of instant replay. 2. A whole lot of them believe the system would be better without the managers' challenge built into it." Olney wrote, "If they can get a call right that we all know is wrong, why shouldn't that happen? This should be the guiding principal: Get as many calls right as you possibly can." In order to "do this, the managers need to be taken out of the loop in the replay system as soon as possible -- and really, there's no reason why this couldn't happen almost immediately." What has "quickly become evident is that the replay system can move quickly and efficiently." However, the "layers of bureaucracy are really unnecessary, and may slow the pace of the game -- a concern for Major League Baseball -- and can lead to blown calls being left uncorrected." There could be a "fifth umpire or other approved official sitting in the same seat where Dunston and others are being asked to review calls, on site -- and then if there's a call that needs to be reviewed, that fifth umpire can signal to the crew on the field for a brief pause." The new replay system is "much better than what baseball had, undoubtedly," but there is "high ground to be seized, and managers and club officials have said privately all spring that they hope this change -- which some of them view as inevitable -- happens as soon as possible" (ESPN.com, 4/2). FOXSPORTS.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes the new system is "working well and probably will become even more efficient as the season goes on -- notwithstanding" Bochy's "misadventures" last night. Of the five replay challenges Monday, "only one went longer than two minutes." Morosi: "Not surprisingly, it had to do with the legality of a catcher's actions at home plate under new rules aimed at increasing player safety" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/2).
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