Here we sit in the middle of January, only 3 football games left to be played, and 26 days till pitchers and catchers report for our Cardinals. It still seems like an eternity away. Yet we actually have some real baseball news to talk about this week in instant replay. Two former Cardinal managers, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa, along with John Schuerholz were the people developing this replay system. The good news is that they realize this is just the first shot at this and that the next three seasons will be used to adjust the system to get it to the best possible system available.
I think most people are happy that we finally have a system that is going to correct the major wrongs. If you have not heard yet, the system is that each manager is only allowed one challenge in the first six innings and if they get that challenge correct, they are entitled to a second challenge. Starting in inning 7 the umpires take over and review any call they feel necessary. As a side note home runs are not part of challenges used by managers in the first six innings and all continue to be reviewable at the discretion of the umpires.
While I don’t think they did as good of job with this as they could have, finally they have something in place to correct some of the wrongs that have been done in the past, hello Don Denkinger. Baseball is still allowing the ghost play at second on double plays as that is not a reviewable play. Why should the fielder be actually required to be on second base when they have the ball? Here is a concept for MLB, how about we enforce the rules as they were written?
That brings me to my biggest pet peave, the strike zone. No it is not reviewable either, but since we are trying to get the game to be called fairly, it is time that MLB enforce the actual written strike zone! I once attended a speaking engagement to hear a former MLB umpire speak and he asked the generic question what is the definition of a strike. We all know it is over the plate and between the top of the letters and the bottom of the knees of each hitter. So me being the smart 23 year old at the time I said that description and he said I was wrong. He said it is a strike when and only when he said it was. Truer words have never been spoken. Every single umpire in the game today has it’s own version of the strike zone and it is very annoying. If MLB wants to speed up the game, enforce the actual strike zone and see how much time is saved by batter not able to sit there with the bat on their shoulder. Most umpires right now have a strike zone that stops at the belt and let’s not get started on pitches being called stokes that are six inches to a foot off the plate.
By the way the reviewers of these plays will be two umpire crews sitting in New York rotating for a week at a time. Each umpire will be responsible for watching two games each day. Yes that means Angel Hernandez, one of umpires with the most blown calls, will be reviewing games. What irony that is! I wonder if he will even be able to get the review correct?
The system is not completely what I wanted, but finally we have a big step in the right direction.