Saturday, October 31, 2009

Video Replay in MLB

After the Phillies Yankees World Series Game 2 umpire blunders, the argument for video replay has picked up some steam. There seems to be a trend however, which to me, allows for a rather simple solution. I must be missing something.

The common trend is that most errors are made at first base, with reason. Most quick, bang-bang plays are at first base because most ground ball outs are made there and more runners are there than any other base during a game. So how about video replay at first base only?

I am going to backtrack now for a bit. The argument I am making is to not turn this into an NFL type deal with 5 minute breaks in a game that already has enough breaks. The argument is that baseball is a game that lives and dies through human error. And its still here. Not dead yet. So it is still living through personal reference decisions. That being said, the strike zone should certainly remain up to the umpires discretion. I think that is part of the challenge between hitter and pitcher: to know and read what pitches are balls and strikes for one umpire and balls and strikes for another. Not every strike zone is the same and that is part of what keeps the game interesting.

Keeping it interesting and keeping it fair are two different things. Balls and strikes were meant to be judgment calls. Plays at first, home runs and catches were not. Just live video replay is implemented for home runs, video replay should be implemented for plays at first and other out/safe debates in the field.

Just to site an example, the wrong call was clearly made in the ALCS Game 4 matchup between the Yankees and Angels where clearly both Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano should have been called out on a confusing run down play. Neither player was on a base when tug. Seems like a simple call to me.

But how about the Red Sox Angels Game 1 of the ALDS miscues. C.B.Bucknor made two pretty horrific calls at first base. Both calls went against the Red Sox and Howie Kendrick has a new favorite base ump. After replays showed just how wrong the calls were, and when I say this I mean wrong, not just questionable, but blatantly wrong, it was rather obvious that something needed to be done. Then there is the age old argument that it didn't affect the outcome of the game. The simple response is how do you know that?

Watching ESPN's PTI yesterday, an argument was raised that its not the NFL, there's no red challenge flags. Well...why not? 1 wrong challenge a game. Unlimited right challenges. But what about the length of the game, its long enough as it is. How long is the average stroll from the dugout by MLB managers to go argue with umpires, kick dirt, take off their hats, yell in the faces of the umpires, throw bases, draw lines in the dirt, kick dirt over home plate and even after being tossed out the game, continue the tirade? Not much of a difference to me.

Replay won't hurt baseball. It won't make the game longer. It won't take away a key component of a game that has gotten as far as it has based on human decision making. If home runs can be reviewed, so can calls at first base. Maybe we can stretch it to the foul lines as well. But thats for another day...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Poor Charlie

Not that Fox or TBS has ever shown any sort of admiration or likeness towards the Philadelphia Phillies, but it is hard to sit and watch and listen to the commentators continually question good ol 'Charles Junior.'  

The profound disapproval by Tim McCarver with Charlie Manuel not sending the runners (Jimmy Rollins from 2nd and Shane Victorino from 1st) with 1 out and Chase Utley at the plate in the eighth inning, made my teeth grind.  Fair enough, Chase grounded into a double play with Ryan Howard (at the time, 0 for 3 with 3k) on deck.  Using a cliche sports phrase, hindsight is 20/20.  I'm proud of you Tim McCarver.  You figured out that it didn't work out and then adamantly showed your disapproval for Manuel.  

Chase Utley hits the ball hard, even on his outs.  He hits line drives.  And even before Charlie Manuel said this in his post game interview, most knowledgeable sports fans/writers/commentators whatever, know Utley doesn't hit into hardly any double plays but does hit many line drive outs, which would make a double play much easier.

So what is the purpose of my commentary?  To say this:  What will it take for Fox, TBS, ESPN and anyone else out there save than the city of Philadelphia, to give Charlie a little credit as a dominant Major League Baseball manager?  The guy has brought this team from a joke to a powerhouse, with, of course, the efforts of Ed Wade, Pat Gillick and Rueben Amaro Jr.  The Phillies in the past 2 seasons haven't lost more than 1 game in a postseason series.  They are in back to back world Series after not seeing a 163rd game in 13 seasons.  Charlie Manuel will shock you when watching his interviews.  How does this guy become a Major League manager with a diction like that?  If the job description were to not say the words 'like,' and 'you know' and 'well' then he would fail miserably.  The job description is to win games and thats what he does.  He wins games.  It's rare occasion you hear them question Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox or Terry Francona.  None of them has a team in this years World Series.  None of them had a team in last years.  Let Charlie be Charlie and let the Phillies keep on rollin.