Why I Hate Baseball’s Replay Challenge Rule
It’s the biggest change in baseball since the designated hitter first debuted on April 6, 1973 and since the first night game was played May 24, 1935.
It’s baseball’s new replay challenge rule and, while generally a move in the right direction, the way it’s currently used is quite simply, ludicrous.
RHUBARB: One thing you are seeing less of this year is managers rushing onto the field to argue controversial calls by the umpires.
Replay = Longer Games
Games are already long and thanks to the replay challenge rule, games are only getting longer; games are actually 7 minutes longer this year than the longest average game–a record set in 2000. Less than a month into the season and we all seen it far too often. Whenever there is a close play, the manager trots very slowly out to talk to the umpire in question. In some cases, the manager doesn’t even trot; he, kind of, walks. This is all designed to stall the game until the team video reviewer can make his decision on whether the manager should use his precious challenge or not.
What are the manager and umpire speaking about when they run on the field? It must be the blown call, right? I mean, that’s what managers and umpires have done for decades.
Think again. Nationals’ manager Matt Williams describes what he talks about when he runs on the field to argue and wait for his video nerds to review the play and give him the thumbs up or thumbs down signal.
We talk about the weather,” Williams said. “Stuff like that. And then Randy [Knorr] gives me the thumbs up or down, and I say, ‘Okay, have a nice evening,’ and run back. That’s about it.”
No More Arguments
Warning: the argument below contains R rated language.
Remember, the old days when the home manager ran on the field to actually argue with the umpire? Now, he asks about the family and talks about the weather! This is greatly missed in baseball and was something that was unique to the game. Fans love a great argument. It took until April 7 this year for a manager to get tossed when Boston’s John Farrell got the thumb.
Any baseball fan has his favorite managers when it comes to arguing with umpires. You wonder how anybody could get that upset or whether it was just part of the show! Some of the guys I loved to watch argue were Billy Martin, Larry Bowa, Whitey Herzog (who got tossed in game 7 of the 1985 World Series), Lou Piniella, Ozzie Guillen, Gene Mauch, and any argument that included 5′ 7″ Earl Weaver.
Replays are progress Major League Baseball. Heck even Little League Baseball has replays today. But, keep your grimy hands off of my baseball arguments!
How To Fix the Replay Challenge Rule
The worst part of the rule is that when the manager trots, or walks, onto the field, you know all that they are doing is stalling for more time. The rule should be that if the manager walks on the field, he loses his right to challenge. This would cause the team videographer to be more on his or her toes to make a quick decision. And, yes, I know what would happen next. The on-deck hitter would suddenly need more pine tar on his bat and would have to walk back to the dugout in just a different kind of stalling effort. Still, what this rule change would do is bring back the beloved managerial argument.
Second, why are challenges limited? You should get one incorrect challenge per game. If your team gets screwed by the umps twice in the same game, why should you be limited to challenge the second time?
The baseball challenge rule is a good one; it just needs some inevitable tweaking. Let’s make those changes now and stop delaying the games longer. All you have to do is look in the stands in the ninth inning of a weeknight game to see that the games are going on too long.
Now, just wait for a massive pine tar shortage from on deck hitters.