MLB pushing ahead with instant replay, being very silly about it

Jim Rogash

Good news everybody! Major League Baseball is trying to get more calls right! Bad news everybody! They're doing it in the most convoluted way possible.

After much hemming and hawing from the league, and even more complaining from fans, Major League Baseball is finally moving to add more instant replay to the game.

The only problem?  They're making it far more complicated than it needs to be. Per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

The details of the proposal are still under discussion and subject to change. But under one scenario, each team would get one challenge in innings one through six and two from the seventh inning to the end of the game, sources said.

Still undecided: Whether umpires would initiate certain reviews - for instance, on disputed home runs - and whether an incorrect challenge would prevent a manager from making additional challenges later in the game.

This is one convoluted system for manager challenges. One in the first six innings, then two for the final three? Because a run in the seventh is worth two and in the ninth worth four? All runs are equal on the scoreboard, the only difference is the level of controversy that emerges when a mistake is made early compared to late.

Perhaps, then, the league wants to avoid replay ever being a story. The aim is to dodge scenarios where a manager lost the game for his team by wasting his challenges on correct calls early only to have one slip by in the ninth. Whatever the case, though, the result is a convoluted proposal which doesn't really make any intuitive sense.

The problem, though, runs deeper. It's not about how many challenges, or when to use them, it's about having challenges at all. Frankly, it's hard to imagine that Selig and co. cannot see the obvious answer that would do away with convoluted challenge systems: an umpire, a video screen, and a booth. They can be on-site, or in the league offices in New York. One man per game who watches the angles we all see at home, makes the call as quickly as he can, and is in constant communication with the staff on the field. If they can't make the call, he can. If they make the wrong call, he can overturn it.

It's the perfect scenario. It almost certainly results in the greatest number of correct calls. It largely eliminates delays from the game that could stem from umpires gathering, talking it out, and then heading inside as they do these days. It avoids the Umpires Association making a stink since their numbers are actually increasing by at least 15. If it's a little expensive, it seems like a pittance given how much money is thrown around the game these days. And it removes the impetus of getting calls right from the manager, whose job that most certainly is not.

But for now, Selig has his head stuck firmly in the sand for some unknown reason. Hopefully somewhere along the line of this system being presented to all the parties who need to approve it, someone will point out the obvious. But given the torturous process of even getting replay to this point, that seems like too much to hope for.

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