Baseball just got longer

By RICK SOLEM
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Instant replay is ruining sports.

Sure, it helps get calls right … eventually … sometimes. But it sure takes a long time to get that call right.

In the NFL, the head referee heads to the “hood” on the sideline and gets a minute to make a decision on the play in question. It feels like 10 minutes. 

In the NBA, coaches don’t challenge plays, refs have a certain criteria of which they can review, and how they review is similar to the NFL. They head to the sidelines and someone grabs a monitor and uncomfortably turns it toward the court so the head ref can review. They don’t have a time limit.

Thursday, baseball games may have just gotten a lot longer.

Thursday, the MLB unanimously adopted an NFL like replay system, where the team managers get one challenge. If they’re right, they get another. And, starting in the seventh inning, umpires can review their own calls if no managers have challenges.

Unlike the NBA and NFL, however, the reviews will be made at the MLB headquarters in New York, which, hopefully, speeds up the unnecessarily long process that is in place already.

Not every close call can be reviewed, either. Not balls and strikes. Not checked swings. Or obstruction calls.

The MLB did get at least one thing wrong, however. It gave managers more power to stop play. Replays won’t prevent managers from running out and yelling at umps, which seems to happen once or twice a game with no penalty. It encourages it more often.

Maybe the challenges makes the game shorter, based solely on the fact that a manager won’t go yell at an ump for a minute then take his sweet time walking back to the dugout. Doubtful.

And that's the big oddity I see with the system so far: After the seventh inning, umps can call for reviews if the coaches don’t have a challenge. Then why would a coach go into the seventh inning with a challenge?

In the NFL and NBA, the odds of one play changing the game in the first half are very slim. In baseball, one swing may lead to all the runs that are scored and that can happen anytime. So, maybe he holds onto that challenge ... until the sixth inning. 

And when it's the seventh and beyond and a manager questions a call, what’s he going to do? Run out on the field and disrupt the game until the umpire … what, throws him out, calls for a review, banters with him for 5 minutes? 

Why not give the umpires all the power, not just from the seventh inning?

This is like a begging dog who you give a treat. What happens after that? The dog begs for another treat.

What happens when the manager runs out of the dugout demanding a replay and you give it to him? He’s going to want another treat.

Hopefully the replay in the MLB will take significantly less time than the NFL and NBA. I think it will, reviewing them off site. 

Is there anything more annoying than watching a game, seeing a call challenged and knowing how it’s going to be ruled the instant you see it, while ref walks over to the sidelines to look at a monitor for what seems like 10 minutes?

Baseball doesn’t really have momentum per say, and crowds are usually on their cell phones or looking at the clouds, but reviews in football and basketball take so much out of the atmosphere and kill any sense of momentum either team has.

At least in the NFL it’s completely up to the coaches to challenge until the final 2 minutes and then coaches can’t run out and stop a game to argue without getting a 15-yard penalty.

In the NBA, refs make the call and can review things so unnecessary, like whether a foul was a “flagrant 1” or “flagrant 2.” Or, on a fastbreak foul with nobody between the offensive player with the ball and the basket, whether that player had a “clear path” to the basket or if there was a defender in the way.

This review is the worst and seems to happen two or three times a game and then kills the game. Play stops. The crowd takes a nap. I change the channel.  

The NBA really needs to fix its review system. The NFL is OK, but the ref takes so long to walk over to the hood and look and, sometimes, he still gets it wrong. Maybe it’s cold out there and he likes huddling under that hood to keep warm and then forgets what he was in there for.

The one thing for sure that baseball got right is having the plays reviewed in New York … I think.

Let’s just hope it’s not just one old codger on a black and white tube TV, and he has to put the Twins on hold for a foul ball review while he takes a look at a Rickie Weeks strikeout looking.

Just kidding, Weeks doesn’t strike out looking. He swings every time … oh, and balls and strikes aren’t reviewable.

But the very thought of reviews and giving the managers more power to disrupt a baseball game makes me cringe.

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