I keep hearing over and over again the rallying cry “as long as they get it right”. That is, no matter how long it takes, or what the process, if officials ultimately get the call correct, it's worth it. Major League Baseball is on the path of instituting an expanded replay system that could not only slow down the game, but reduce the conflict between umpire and manager.
Some may think this is a good thing, and in a lot of ways it is, but who doesn't enjoy a good nose-to-nose, chest-to-chest, spit-in-each-other's-face argument now and then? It's not like they happen every day, but if the new proposal by the baseball owners' replay committee becomes reality, we may hardly ever see them at all. The proposal is a challenge system, similar to football, but more like tennis. If a call doesn't go one team's way, that manager can challenge, and replay will be used to determine the outcome. A manager would have one challenge in the first six innings, and two from the seventh inning on. If he challenges and wins, he keeps his challenge to use again. The proposal still must be approved by 75 percent of the owners, and then the players and umpires unions.
Can you see where this is going? The game could be stopped for review up to six times, and an unlimited number if umpires keep blowing calls. And that likely doesn't include questionable home runs, which may be subject to the current system. The play would be looked at by some dude in a New York studio apartment, with a decision theoretically to come down in less than a minute-and-a-half. It has not yet been disclosed which plays will be reviewable, but it's highly unlikely that a challenge could be used on balls and strikes, so at least we can still see players getting tossed for throwing their bats or helmets.
Like interleague play, the wild card, and maybe someday even the Houston Astros in the American League, I supposed I'll get used to the idea eventually, but only if the system works correctly and quickly. However, I think what will happen is that we will see more challenges than we currently have arguments. Managers risk getting ejected from the game when they argue. They'll be no penalty for an unsuccessful challenge. Maybe if they use all three challenges, and lose them all, they get suspended for a week. That would be cool.
It seems doubtful, though, that a review could come quickly, and maybe not even correctly. We've seen umpires look at replay and blow calls! I've always “argued” (get it?) that maybe the solution is to get better umpires. People already (mostly unnecessarily) complain about the length of games to begin with. If you've watched an NBA game, you know that reviewing whether a shot was worth three points or two, or deciding how many tenths of a second should be on the clock can take forever, but again, “as long as they get it right”. Right?
Lightning (A-)Rod: How entertaining was it to see Alex Rodriguez get drilled with a pitch in his first at-bat against the Red Sox Sunday night? I guess replay won't eliminate those things, but watching Yankees manager Joe Girardi explode was fan-tastic. The normally mild-mannered, outgoing, and friendly skipper erupted when home plate umpire Brian O' Nora didn't eject Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster. I thoroughly enjoyed watching A-Rod getting hit (nowhere near the head or anywhere serious), but Dempster should have been tossed. Rodriguez had the last laugh though. He homered, and the Yankees won.
Braun but not Forgotten: Speaking of baseball PED scum (A-Rod, not Dempster or Girardi), suspended Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun reportedly is about to come clean and admit that he used steroids in 2011, the year he won the National League MVP, beating out Matt Kemp of the Dodgers (my only Dodger reference in the entire column). Not only did he take performance-enhancing drugs, and not only did he lie about it, but he convinced other players that he was telling the truth, and was doing anything to get other guys to defend him. Now, in a new report, Braun, who is Jewish, told people that the guy who handled (or mishandled as he convinced Major League Baseball) his sample was an anti-semite and out to get him. But Braun is going to apologize this week, so I guess that means it's all good. Oh yeah, the friend who helped Braun win his appeal is now suing him, so what does that tell you?
I have an idea. If Braun (and this won't work for A-Rod because he's too old) really wants to make amends, how about playing indy-ball for three years? Sign with the Saint Paul Saints, the Long Island Ducks, or the Newark Bears, make 25-hundred dollars a month, and ride the buses, and play in front of two to three thousand people a night. He could afford it. Braun turns 30 in November, so he would be 32, in shape, and ready to go in 2016. Not only would he be forgiven, but if he was drug free and put up something close to MVP-caliber numbers, he would become a legend.
Sorry Charlie: Sad that Philadelphia fired manager Charlie Manuel (pictured with umpire Bob Davidson). Manuel had just gotten his 1000th career win and led the Phillies in a very successful run over the last ten years. Amazing how stupid he got all of a sudden. Rumors are that Mike Scioscia is getting a lot dumber in Anaheim these days, too, but maybe he'll be able to last the rest of the year.
(Fox Sports) One More: The newest 24-hour all-sports television network (because there is a vast shortage of them) was launched on Saturday. Fox Sports One debuted with football anchor Curt Menafee signing the channel on. I didn't watch any of the programs, but I did check to see if Comcast is carrying it without an extra charge, and they are (Channel 408 in your lineup, Fox Sports One in your hearts). Regis Filbin is back on television and hosting a sports show on that channel weekday mornings. I was going to check it out, but forgot to tape it.
Reality check: I decided to write at the Circle K in Marysville instead of in my much hotter apartment, and as I was concluding this ridiculous column, I looked up, and noticed that the line at the cash register had gotten really long. About two dozen firefighters had come in, and one of them told me that they were on their way to battle the Hough Complex Fire in the Plumas National Forest. They were from different departments in the Bay Area, including Oakland, Fremont, and Alameda County Fire Departments. Kind of puts things in perspective. Good luck guys, and thanks.
It was 11 years ago tomorrow (August 20) that Steve Dudley left this earth way too early at the age of 45. It sucks that he didn't get to see his three daughters (my cousins Mikenna, Taryn, and Rhiannon) grow up to be the fine young women they have become, but he would sure be proud! Miss you, Steve.