A Challenge System for Baseball?

I am not a Yankees fan, but they wuz robbed with a really bad call the other night against the Tigers. And that infield fly call during the Braves/Cardinals game was just awful. Why not a challenge system like tennis? Each manager would get one challenge. If he was wrong and the ump was correct, he’d lose it. If the ump missed it, the manager would keep it. I worry about slowing the game down even more, but perhaps just the one challenge wouldn’t be too burdensome.

  1. Donald Todd

    Actually baseball is a slow game unless a hit occurs.  Unlike football it would not be hurt by taking a short amount of time (say one minute) and examining the play in question.  

    The other side of the coin is that not every hitter hits the ball, and not every pitch is perfect.  Do we want to take the element of a missed call out of baseball?

    I don’t know.  I am agnostic on this issue.

  2. tabula rasa

    Flagg:  great idea.  The challenge system in the NFL slows things down a bit (Tivo the game and you can skip right through the challenge), but it has added to its integrity.

    Your approach is a good compromise. Let a team have one for the really important, game-changing call.

    Better results, and no great delay.

    This is a reasonable compromise. This is one we can reach across the aisle on.

  3. Illiniguy

    No, no and no again. Everyone’s talking about using Pitchtrax to call balls and strikes. C’mon, umpires have been defining their own strike zones for 100 years, and players have adjusted. Get that camel’s nose under the tent flap and pretty soon there will be cameras focused on every base, both foul lines and God knows where else and umpires will be replaced by the autocratic diktats of technology.

    “Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain. You’ve got to pay for it. Sometimes I think there’s a man behind a counter who says, “All right, you can have a telephone; but you’ll have to give up privacy, the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote; but at a price; you lose the right to retreat behind a powderpuff or a petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air; but the birds will lose their wonder, and the clouds will smell of gasoline!” Henry Drummond, Inherit the Wind

    Turn football into a pinball game with do-overs, leave baseball to the ages.

  4. Flagg Taylor
    Illiniguy: No, no and no again. Everyone’s talking about using Pitchtrax to call balls and strikes. C’mon, umpires have been defining their own strike zones for 100 years, and players have adjusted. Get that camel’s nose under the tent flap and pretty soon there will be cameras focused on every base, both foul lines and God knows where else.

    “Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain. You’ve got to pay for it. Sometimes I think there’s a man behind a counter who says, “All right, you can have a telephone; but you’ll have to give up privacy, the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote; but at a price; you lose the right to retreat behind a powderpuff or a petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air; but the birds will lose their wonder, and the clouds will smell of gasoline!” Henry Drummond,Inherit the Wind

    Turn football into a pinball game with do-overs, leave baseball to the ages. · 4 minutes ago

    Agreed–in my view, there should be NO review of balls and strikes. Never. Ever.

  5. EJHill

    The problem is that there are no “d0-overs” in baseball. In football, you simply “replay the down.”

    Then you have to ask the umpires to assume that they know the result of the play had they not made a mistake, that they would have known how many runners would have advanced and how far, and that the defense would not have successfully gotten an out on an advancing runner. That calls for more alchemy than accepting the blown call.

    That’s why baseball only allows protests on rules interpretations.

  6. Mollie Hemingway
    C

    That infield fly call was not wrong. Cards really could have turned a double play there. It was just late.

    As for the rest, the game is too slow as is. Slowing it down with these technological reviews is just a recipe for disaster.

    Also, unlike other sports, it’s the humanity of the game that is its beauty. And no play can truly be repeated in any meaningful sense. I haven’t had enough coffee to explain better so let me revisit this later!

  7. Flagg Taylor
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.: That infield fly call was not wrong. Cards really could have turned a double play there. It was just late.

    As for the rest, the game is too slow as is. Slowing it down with these technological reviews is just a recipe for disaster.

    Also, unlike other sports, it’s the humanity of the game that is its beauty. And no play can truly be repeated in any meaningful sense. I haven’t had enough coffee to explain better so let me revisit this later! · 7 minutes ago

    Me thinks your Cardinals colored glasses are affecting your judgment.  There is not a sliver of a chance the Cards could have turned a double play there.

    More importantly, I want to know more details about the fight of the week.  Who had the advantage early in the fight? Did the decibel level get up there?  Was there pouting? Did anyone ever eat that turkey?

  8. Flagg Taylor
    EJHill: The problem is that there are no “d0-overs” in baseball. In football, you simply “replay the down.”

    Then you have to ask the umpires to assume that they know the result of the play had they not made a mistake, that they would have known how many runners would have advanced and how far, and that the defense would not have successfully gotten an out on an advancing runner. That calls for more alchemy than accepting the blown call.

    That’s why baseball only allows protests on rules interpretations. · 36 minutes ago

    Edited 25 minutes ago

    So let’s say if there’s an out call where the runner was actually safe, any runners in advance of that play would get one base.  Similar to what happens on a ground rule double–the advance runner who would have scored stays at third.

  9. EJHill
    Flagg Taylor  Me thinks your Cardinals colored glasses are affecting your judgment.  There is not a sliver of a chance the Cards could have turned a double play there.

    Because if they could have, they would have. And they didn’t.

  10. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Flagg Taylor

    Me thinks your Cardinals colored glasses are affecting your judgment.  There is not a sliver of a chance the Cards could have turned a double play there.

    More importantly, I want to know more details about the fight of the week.  Who had the advantage early in the fight? Did the decibel level get up there?  Was there pouting? Did anyone ever eat that turkey? · 3 minutes ago

    When I watched the play, I agreed with you. But ESPN coverage later that night convinced me otherwise.

    Anyway, we all survived TurkeyGate 2012. Decibels were up, but there was peace in the land by the end of the podcast and we agreed that we are blessed to have each other as spouses — however infuriating we find each other time to time.

  11. Tuco

    I think of instant replay in terms Thomas Sowell’s constrained and unconstrained visions of human nature.  We, and our behavior and outcomes, are not perfectable.  Bad calls are a part of life.  I’m a Yankee fan, and saw two bad calls in game 1 which would have resulted in runs, and of course the bad call yesterday afternoon.  Tough.  Too bad.  Get a hit with RISP.  Instant replay is for Democrats.

  12. EJHill
    Flagg Taylor So let’s say if there’s an out call where the runner was actually safe, any runners in advance of that play would get one base. 

    Except that it’s not similar to a ground rule double in one very, very important aspect: The ball is live. The very nature of the ground-rule double is that it is a deadball situation. Umpires never place runners in any other situation. (HR, ground rule situations, balls thrown out of play, etc. are all plays where the ball is dead and no further attempt for runners to advance or outs to made presents itself.)

    Let’s take your scenario and flesh it out. Speedy runners on second (Abel) and first (Baker), Charles hits the ball to the shortstop who throws the batter out at first. Able never breaks stride and scores and because the first baseman’s throw is high it also allows Baker to score as well.

    Under your scenario, who throws the flag? The offense will take the out for the two runs, the defense will give up the out to stop two from scoring! That’s not baseball.

  13. RightinChicago

    Reviewing Home Runs is enough.  Bad calls are usually a wash.  Sometimes they help you and sometimes they hurt you.  I know Infante was out at second but I’ll take the call.  Yankees didn’t score any runs anyway. 

    The calls are part of baseball.  It’s not perfect, but I think that’s what makes baseball so great.

  14. MBF

    Of course they should be using Pitchtrax for balls and strikes!

    There is nothing endearing about these old buffoonish oafs missing clear calls. It doesn’t need to be “part of the game”. We have the technology to make the game all about the pitcher versus the hitter, why on earth shouldn’t we?

  15. Flagg Taylor
    EJHill

    Flagg Taylor So let’s say if there’s an out call where the runner was actually safe, any runners in advance of that play would get one base. 

    Let’s take your scenario and flesh it out. Speedy runners on first (Abel) and second (Baker), Charles hits the ball to the shortstop who throws the batter out at first. Able never breaks stride and scores and because the first baseman’s throw is high it also allows Baker to score as well.

    Under your scenario, who throws the flag? The offense will take the out for the two runs, the defense will give up the out to stop two from scoring! That’s not baseball. · 6 minutes ago

     That’s a wierd yet plausible scenario. But does the outcome with review make things worse or better?

  16. Illiniguy
    Mark Belling Fan: Of course they should be using Pitchtrax for balls and strikes!

    There is nothing endearing about these old buffoonish oafs missing clear calls. It doesn’t need to be “part of the game”. We have the technology to make the game all about the pitcher versus the hitter, why on earth shouldn’t we? · 7 minutes ago

    The more apt question is, why on earth should we? Baseball is a game, after all. Keep it that way.

  17. MBF
    Illiniguy

    Mark Belling Fan: Of course they should be using Pitchtrax for balls and strikes!

    There is nothing endearing about these old buffoonish oafs missing clear calls. It doesn’t need to be “part of the game”. We have the technology to make the game all about the pitcher versus the hitter, why on earth shouldn’t we? · 7 minutes ago

    The more apt question is, why on earth should we? Baseball is a game, after all. Keep it that way. · 3 minutes ago

    It is very easy to set rules on what is and is not a strike, and to have a computer enforce those rules in exactly the same fashion for every hitter.

    The game is about Verlander versus Cano. I am sick to death of names like West and Bucknor getting in the way of true competition between world class athletes.

  18. Illiniguy
    Mark Belling Fan

    It is very easy to set rules on what is and is not a strike, and to have a computer enforce those rules in exactly the same fashion for every hitter.

    The game is about Verlander versus Cano. I am sick to death of names like West and Bucknor getting in the way of true competition between world class athletes. · 0 minutes ago

    Do you honestly think that the rules wouldn’t “evolve” beyond that? Look at where we are now. The home run review was supposed to be the outer limit, now we’re talking about challenge flags. It’s the old game of if a little bit of regulation is good, think how much better it would be with more. No thanks. I’ll take the imperfections that come from human error. Otherwise, you’re turning those “world class athletes” into robots.

  19. MBF
    Illiniguy

    Do you honestly think that the rules wouldn’t “evolve” beyond that? Look at where we are now. The home run review was supposed to be the outer limit, now we’re talking about challenge flags. It’s the old game of if a little bit of regulation is good, think how much better it would be with more. No thanks. I’ll take the imperfections that come from human error. Otherwise, you’re turning those “world class athletes” into robots. · 34 minutes ago

    No, you’re turning the home plate umpire into a robot. The players are then forced to engage each other in a fair fight.

    Should umpires be allowed to wear glasses? Pitchtrax is nothing more than a really, really good pair of glasses.

    The only worthwhile arguments against more technology involve poor trade offs (e.g. slower pace of game, difficulty of implementation). Other than a loss of unionized umpire jobs, there is no significant trade off to using Pitchtrax.

  20. EJHill
    Flagg Taylor That’s a wierd yet plausible scenario. But does the outcome with review make things worse or better? · 1 hour ago

    I umpired for 20 years. “Weird” is more standard than you would believe. Every season produced events I never thought I’d see.

    There are “delayed dead-ball” situations, by the way, where play continues until you see the result. Typical way that may play out:

    One out, Able at third, Baker at first. On the pitch, Charles’ bat strikes the catcher’s mitt but he still hits the ball to deep right. Able tags and scores, Baker tags up and tries to advance to second where he’s thrown out. Now, as an umpire, you have to call catcher’s interference, but it’s delayed. You have to withhold all calls until play stops.

    You then go to the offensive manager and ask him which result he prefers, dead-ball on the interference and one out with the bases loaded, or inning over and one run safely on the board.

    Where it gets dicey with your challenge system is the natural reaction of players stopping when an umpire calls out or foul ball.

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