Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - I did forget BAN REPLAY

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday Quickie - I did forget BAN REPLAY

OK I wouldn't actually ban all replay. I felt it was stupid when home runs were messed up and feel like I would be fine for the use in making that decision. It also works because a home run is a natural break in the action where everyone stands around anyway.  Along with this though, I'd want to cut down on silly ground rules. Homers should go over fences. It's not hard. No "above this point it's a home run" This is baseball not a carnival ride.

As for getting the call right - no I don't really care. Why would I suddenly care about something (trying to get 100% correct calls) that I didn't care about growing up. I wanted umps to do the best job they could and accepted that level of correctness (somewhere over 99%) was good enough. The level of effort it takes to get that last under 1% correct is not worth it. Not worth the time. Not worth the managerial abuse. Not worth the subtle changes to the game. I guess if it could be done immediately then it would be ok, but it's never going to be because once you say "We should miss no calls" then the umps are video review guys are going to spend whatever time they think is necessary to get that call right. That's my call and I'm in charge in my fantasy world.

As for the pace of play - the time doesn't bother me. I don't think it bothers most - assuming we have well played games. But it will certainly bother some. So you want to make the games faster. Part of it What is the issue? It's all of it. And that's the problem. It's patience - pitches seen and plate appearances. It's time between pitches. It's stepping out of the box. It's more pitching changes. It's mound visits. It's replay. It's more time between plays. It's slightly increasing commercial time.  When you look at anyone in general you get only a couple minutes. When put together - suddenly you have an extra 15-20.  You solve it by tackling all - but you have to first understand that a lot of these are problems formed over a generation or two of ball players that will take about the same amount of time to unlearn naturally. So no 3 years of a minor league clock won't do it. Nor will just enforcing rules about stepping out or mound visits down there.  But they'll help. You put together rules to tackle all of these in the minors. You wait a decade (sorry - but it takes time) and then you see where you are. Some things not working? Then you move to veiled threats. Hey, move faster! We don't want a clock but we might be forced to. Another 5 years. Only then to you implement something in rules that changes the only game without a clock to another game with one.

Not patient enough? Well you risk screwing things up because you gave it 2-3 years of trying and then you threw up your hand like a little kid in front of a Christmas tree screaming "I can't wait any longer"  AND NOW YOU'VE RUINED CHRISTMAS JIMMY.

Anyway that's where I am today.  I'm not eventually against implementing harsh rules like a clock or penalties for stepping out or too many mound visits, but you need to try to breed it out first.


Rob said...

I hate instant replay, for baseball in particular, but in all sports as well. I might support using it on a limited basis in the playoffs only....maybe lol

Anonymous said...

Pace of play is a big problem for me, especially in the playoffs. I like to go to most games, and always stay till the last pitch, but I need to get up early for work. There is a big difference getting done at 945 vs 1030 or even 1045 (and the playoff games go way past midnight!).

Combee said...

My intuition (and I have no data to support this intuition) is that increasing the pace between pitches would result in more balls in play. Pitchers instinctively would challenge the batters more often and batters instinctively would swing more often for contact.

W. Patterson said...

I'm with Anonymous on the pace of play. 'bout time for me to head up to bed and then the last inning, or so, takes a freakin' hour because skipper wants to (or thinks he needs to) allow everybody to play.

I've set the house rules for recording the game if there's a tie at 10:00, or if the manager replaces a pitcher for a second time during/after the 8th inning.

Unless I'm AT the game then I know I'm gonna be a zombie at work the next day.

And I can live without replay, like Harper says. I might be peeved seeing a reply on Sports Center, but I'll get over it.

Harper said...

Anon @ 9:19 - Well if you want to cut it down by 45 minutes you're going to have to go back to high mounds and cavern parks because you can't get back any more of the ad time. It's gotta all be fewer hits, fewer walks.

Combee - possibly. But there's an easy way (for someone else) to check that - have the minor leagues seen more BIP over the past 3 years?

W.P. - Being a night owl and not near enough to attend many games skews my view a bit. You can sleep during the offseason!

W. Patterson said...

Harper - Until I retire, I've problems being a night owl. things will change starting with the 2022 season. And I'm an 8-mile bike ride, or a fairly short Metro ride, from Nats Park so go whenever possible.

Jay said...

I think play off games run late bc of late start times. They start at 8 or 9 instead of 7 or 730. It stinks but it is the play offs. I like replay. I think it helps to get calls right. I do think there should be a clock on replays though - 2 minutes or 3 minutes max. I agree that the millisecond out is pretty stupid. Having said that, MLB has gotten replay the most right by a mile. See NFL re: what is truth? er.. I mean, what is a catch??

Beside the point. Any thoughts on whether it is worth signing Arrieta? Lucroy? I'd really like another legit starter in the rotation rather than Tommy Millone or AJ Cole.

Ryan DC said...

Solving pace of play should be easy-- if you step out of the box, automatic strike call. That'll sink in pretty quickly

Robot said...

10-15 years before any change? Harper, you need to improve the pace of your pace of play improvement expectations.

In seriousness, though, I hate instant replay, and I don't think shaving 10-15 minutes off a game is worth all the stupid rule changes.

PotomacFan said...


Commercial breaks will be shorter
Yes, MLB agreed to shorten commercial breaks during the regular season. Can't say I saw that coming. Here are the new between inning commercial break times:

Regular season games: 2:05 (previously 2:25)
Nationally televised games: 2:25 (previously (2:45)
Postseason games: 2:55

This will save 20 seconds x 17 mid-inning breaks = 340 seconds = 5.67 minutes per game. It's something.

JW said...

I think the danger MLB has is that they are looking for solutions to a problem that they haven't completely defined. Is the problem the length of the games? Or is it more about the nature of the games (i.e., low scoring, non-contact)? And what are they trying to achieve? A higher number of casual fans? I just think it's hard to develop a solution until you've really figured out what the problem is and what the goal is.

If it's an "excitement" issue, I'm not sure what they can do. Baseball, by its nature, is limited in the number of "events" that occur during a contest. That's because the skills required to achieve those events are extraordinarily difficult to obtain. And it's non-contact. Maybe if they allowed more brawls like hockey? That's sarcasm by the way.

In my opinion, the pace of play issue is overblown. NFL games are just as long as baseball games -- there are just way fewer games and they just occur for the most part only on weekends. The problem, to me, is the number of games -- and specifically the number of weeknight games. For example, just looking at the comments here, the complaints are almost always that the game ends too late on weeknights. And I agree; I often fall asleep in the 7th inning or so. But you don't really see complaints about the length of a game on a Saturday afternoon or evening. 162 games is just too many. I would start by cutting down the number of games and spacing out the schedule a little more. Fewer games, more off days during the week. Keep the Friday-Saturday-Sunday set up the same, but less games for each team Monday-Thursday.

I don't have a huge problem with the pace of play suggestions, I just don't know that I think making those changes will draw more fans into the game. Is the decision process really going to be "Well I wouldn't watch this if it was 3 hours, but now that it's 2 and a half hours and things happen marginally more quickly I think I'll give it a shot!"? That just seems unlikely to me.

If I ran baseball and I was concerned about increasing the number of fans, the things I would really try to focus on are 1) Investing significantly more in youth baseball (to me that's the number one way you build fans); 2) Improving accessibility for attending games in person (lower ticket prices, lower food costs, working with localities to facilitate better parking and transportation options); and 3) Improving access to a broader range of teams on TV and radio (making it easier for fans to watch a broader number of teams and players regardless of where they live -- regional sports network contracts might be valuable to the teams, but there should also be greater access on a nationwide scale).

Harper said...

PF - The between inning breaks will be shorter but that doesn't mean less commercials. It means more abrupt starts and ends to the coverage around them. Expect out recorded - straight to commercial with maybe the score on screen, back right for the first pitch.

DezoPenguin said...

Honestly, I have the exact opposite opinion of replay, and it's easy to see why: I had the exact opposite opinion as a kid as you did, Harper. When I would watch games on TV (and frankly, this happened a lot more often in the NFL) and a bad call, clearly identifiable as a bad call by the TV camera, screwed over whomever I was rooting for, it was a bitter and unpleasant experience. It's one thing to be beaten by the other team because they're better, or to lose because one of your own players did something stupid, but plays where someone who's not even part of the game steps in and decrees it. The Pittsburgh-Seattle Super Bowl was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my sports-watching life. (You can imagine how I felt watching pro wrestling until my father sat me down and explained to my under-10-year-old self kayfabe.)

Maybe it's just because I still have that lingering attitude from childhood that athletic competition is supposed to be about sportsmanship. I'm sure all of us have, when we're kids, read sports stories about how the hero of the story gets some lucky break because the officials screwed up and honorably refuses to accept the benefit of the mistake. As we grow up, the scales drop from our eyes and we come to realize that if Tom Brady went Full Billy Cole on an NFL field and the ref flagged the defender for roughing the passer because the blood spatter hit Brady in the head, the Patriots would take the penalty without protest. (I use the Pats as an example because what with Deflategate and Spygate and all that they've been the most notable cheaters, but it's not like anyone else in any other sport is different. We all remember the steroid era in baseball and so on.) Pro athletes aren't "sportsmen"; they're paid professional entertainers who have literal millions of dollars hinging on the outcome of calls.

People talk about the "human element," but to me, the "human element" is brought about by the human *players* who are supposed to be competing with each others. The officials are, in an ideal word, silent and unnoticable. I have no interest in an "ump show." I don't want to see Major League history ruined because Jim Joyce can't get a basic safe/out call right (the Galarraga not-perfect game).

I mean, we literally have a stat now, catcher framing, which measures how good one of the players is at tricking the home plate umpire into getting calls *wrong* (as well as how good they are at *preventing* said ump from screwing up and calling strikes as balls). Framing is playing directly into how much players are getting paid. When the unreliability of the officials in doing their jobs is making millions of dollars for people who can exploit that (and costing millions for those who can't), it's a real problem.

So I say, yes, as soon as the technology allows, bring on the automated strike zones, bring on replay. Give us foul-line cameras and home run cameras. And if we don't like consequences like the calls where a runner's finger comes off the bag for a half-second while sliding, then *change* the rules to reflect the outcomes we actually want to happen. Put a timer on how long the replay officials can look at the camera (if it takes ten minutes of frame-by-frame examination to possibly determine the truth, then there's no way the call was the kind of obvious miscarriage of justice that replay is designed to fix in the first place).

Jimmy said...


Stop bringing up bad memories!

Richard Parker said...

Do you really think managerial abuse has increased since video replay? Do you even remember Earl Weaver? I actually think it gives everyone a chance to calm down.