Saturday, August 4, 2007

Instant Replay Needed In Baseball

I'm convinced. Baseball needs instant replay.

What prompted me to this conclusion? Well today's Mets/Cubs game of course.

Here's what happened. John Maine gets himself in a little jam in the third inning. He has runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs and Ted Lilly at the plate.

Lilly bunts the ball to Carlos Delgado who goes to third on the play looking to get the force out. He bobbles it a little but still gets the ball over to Wright in time for the force.

Well at least the replay showed that. But the 3rd base umpire didn't see the play and only called Jacque Jones out when Wright applied a tag to him after he overshot the bag. If Jones would have been thinking right away and went back to the bag before he got tagged, he would have been called safe.

So the Mets got the out anyway and weren't burned by a bad call by the ump. But imagine if the ump hadn't called Jones out? It would have been bases loaded and no outs - a far worse situation than runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out.

Okay, moving along in the inning. Soriano grounds out to Maine, moving the base runners to 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Up comes Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot.

Theriot grounds a slow roller to Jose Reyes, who grabs the ball and fires a laser to 1st. What's the call? Safe. Cubs take the lead 1-0.

After that, the floodgates open and the Cubbies go on to score 6 runs in the inning, knocking Maine out of the game and essentially putting it out of reach.

Here's the problem. Theriot was out a 1st. Clearly. Without a doubt. No question about it. Replays showed that Delgado had the ball in his glove securely while Theriot's foot was still in the air.

This was the turning point in the game. Instead of getting out of the inning unscathed, that bad call by the 1st base umpire directly led to 6 Cubs runs.

So I think it's time for Major League Baseball to get with the program and move into the 21st century with the rest of the pro sports community. Baseball is the only major sport without an instant replay system. Even the NBA has instant replay!

I understand that the umpires have a tough job... and I'm not advocating instant replay for balls and strikes. Strike zones, by their very nature, are subjective to begin with. It's up to the pitchers and batters to adjust to what's being called.

But for force outs and close tag plays, why not? How many times a week do you see an umpire get a close play at first wrong? Or call a runner out at second who clearly slid in ahead of the tag? Too frequently for my liking.

So what should MLB do? Here's what I think.

First, adopt a challenge system similar to the NFL's. You get 2 challenges a game. In football if you challenge and the play is upheld, you lose a timeout. For baseball, if you challenge and the play is upheld, you lose your second challenge. This seems fair.

Also put a limit on the number of challenges a team can make in a year. Let's say 20. That way crazy managers like La Russa and Pinella can't go hog-wild with the challenges.

Next, stipulate which plays can be challenged and which ones can't. Balls and strikes, balk calls, check swings and fair/foul balls that remain in play are a few I can think of off hand that should not be challenged.

So what should be challenged? Fair/Foul ball homeruns, tag plays, force outs and fan interference all should be able to be challenged.

You may say, "Why not be able to challenge all fair/foul ball calls?" Think about it. Let's say an umpire calls a ball foul that remains in the field of play. Then replays show that the ball was fair. What are you going to do, give the batter a single or a double? How many bases do runners who were already on base advance? 1? 2? There's too much uncertainty involved with this situation.

However, if a batter hits a homerun that goes fair/foul there can only be 2 outcomes. Either the ball is foul or it's a homerun. Plain and simple. This also goes for balls that hit over the fence and are clearly homeruns (like if they clear the yellow line on the fence) but are not called so.

Also, fan interference should be reviewable. No more Jeffrey Maier's having more of an impact on the game than the players themselves.

Baseball almost headed in this direction after the 2005 playoffs which saw A.J. Pierzynski be awarded 1st base after he ran to first on a third strike that he thought hit the dirt. Replays showed it was caught cleanly. The White Sox were able to keep the inning going and eventually win the game.

What did Bud Selig have to say about it?

"Yes, we had some incidents that certainly need to be looked at. So I'm not minimizing them. But do I believe in instant replay? No, I do not,'' Selig said. "Human error is part of our sport.''

Yes Bud, human error persists in baseball. But the key word is "error." And an error of any kind is wrong. Errors are meant to be fixed. Bud needs to fix it.

So that's it. Baseball needs instant replay in the worst way. I think the Mets would agree after what happened today. Holla back!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Willie's Stroke Of Genius (lol)

OK so on Sunday I wrote about how Willie had a serious brain freeze when he didn't allow Castro to hit against the left-handed Ray King even though Lo Duca had just gotten hurt and Castro would have had to come into the game anyway. Instead he had a "hunch" and went with Marlon Anderson instead. Anderson popped out, killing the rally.

Now fast forward to yesterday. I'm sitting home on my couch, expecting to see Pedro Martinez throw against a few unlucky A-ballers, but of course, the minor league game gets rained out (gotta love Florida in the summer).

So I go to the fridge, grab a Coke and a bag of cool ranch Doritos from on top of the fridge and head back to my viewing throne. Then the lineup cards are announced.

Reyes, SS
Castillo, 2B
Wright, 3B
Delgado, 1B
Alou, LF
Anderson, CF
Castro, C
Green, RF
Perez, P

I almost choked on a Dorito. What? Are you kidding me? Marlon Anderson in center field. I don't think the guy has ever played center in his life. And he's batting 6th? What is Willie thinking. Dumb move.

(Now fast-forward to the 3rd inning)

Gary Cohen:

Here's the pitch to Anderson. And it's a high flyball, deep right field... going back is Hart, looking up... that ball is .... OUTTA HERE!!!! A 3-run homerun by Marlon Anderson and the Mets take a 1-run lead!

Need I say more. Willie had a hunch to go with Anderson. Willie's a freaking genius.

Now here's what I wrote on Sunday:

**(Check back next week when I write the exact same blog PRAISING Willie for going with his gut and ditching conventional wisdom. That's the nature of being a fan you know lol.)

Did I call it or what? Now THAT'S funny. Holla back.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Willie's Brain Freeze

OK, so I'm watching Game 2 last night. Critical point in the ballgame. 1 out, tie game, bottom of the 7th. Lo Duca gets a single and then L-Millz smacks a single right behind him. However, while rounding 2nd, Lo Duca comes up lame with a leg injury.

Now Ramon Castro was already on deck and warming up. So I'm thinking, "OK Willie is going to use a pitcher to pinch-run for Lo Duca and then let Castro hit against the lefty Ray King. Easy decision!"

So El Duque comes in to run for the injured Lo Duca. OK, just what I thought.

Then, for some strange reason, Willie decides that instead of letting Castro pinch-hit, he's going to bring in Marlon Anderson, a lefty, to face Ray King.

Willie, I love ya but WTH WERE YOU THINKING!!!!!!!!!!

I literally was in shock.

This was a bad decision for many reasons.

First, the Mets bench was already short since Anderson Hernandez was sent down to make room for Pelfrey and Carlos "The Next Alou" Beltran was unable to play with a strained ab muscle. (Seems like Beltran is either hurt or playing "hurt" all of the time).

So the bench was already short... why waste another bench player when Castro HAD TO come in the game anyway for the injured Lo Duca?

In the words of Willie:

"I was confident in Marlon," he said. "You don't want to use two players there, but you got to go for it."

Okay, so Marlon Anderson was 3 for 5 with a double and a homerun in his career versus King. Pretty good. Is it a good enough sample for Willie to insert him into the game and deplete his entire bench? Hellz to the no. Using 2 players for 1 when you are already short on the bench is a pretty dumb thing to do... unless the pinch hitter you are sending up is Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols. And Marlon Anderson is no Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols. You feel me?

Plus King is the only lefty in the Nats pen. Which means that there was a good chance down the line that Anderson could be used to pinch hit and it would be against a righty.

So of course Marlon Anderson comes in... and pops out. Hovito Reyes comes up next and does the same thing. Rally over. Bench depleted. Brain freeze.

And to make matters worse, of course the Mets come storming back in the 8th bringing the game to 6-5. But in the 9th, after a ground out by Milledge (hottest hitter in the lineup hitting 8th???), up comes pinch hitter TOM GLAVINE. That's right, Tom Glavine had to pinch hit because Willie used 2 players for one back in the 7th. When he didn't have to. Brain freeze.

I wonder if Willie is a big gambler. I mean, he goes with his gut alot, which is fine, but sometimes you have to put your gut in check and do the reasonable thing. Like, for instance, if he was sitting at a poker table with pocket 7s, and the cards on the table were king, king, jack, ace, queen - would Willie put all of his chips on the line against those odds or live to fight another day?

Willie needed to fight another day. Instead he had a brain freeze. Instead of Subway, maybe Willie should be the spokesman for Luigi's Italian Ice. Horrible.

**(Check back next week when I write the exact same blog PRAISING Willie for going with his gut and ditching conventional wisdom. That's the nature of being a fan you know lol.)

Holla back.