Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter and free reviews
Over time I’ve spoken here on Birds Watcher about how opponents of Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles seem to talk their way into free replay reviews in games. The rules are fairly straight forward, however perhaps also nebulous. Each team gets one challenge per game. If they win that challenge, they keep it – in effect they have their challenge until they lose one. However umpires can also review plays at their discretion.
So over time, managers (John Gibbons is one that comes to mind) have started coming out onto the field to implore
umps to “use their discretion” and call for replay reviews. It’s a win-win situation; the team doesn’t have to risk anything by using their challenge, and the play is still reviewed. The worst part of this loophole is that umpires often appear more than willing to “use their discretion.” But did Buck Showalter decide that turnabout is fair play last night?
After Ryan Rua‘s third inning homer, Showalter did come out of the dugout and asked the crew to review whether or not the ball actually left the yard. And in fact, they correctly ruled that it was a home run. Incidentally, the umpires agreed to uphold Showalter’s request, and reviewed the play “at their discretion.”
So in that sense perhaps turnabout is fair play. For the most part, Showalter appears to only ask for reviews on plays he’s physically challenging. And that’s how it should be. But…he didn’t do that last night. So I would remind folks that prior to the current incarnation of replay there was instant replay on home runs exclusively. My understanding was that the policy of reviewing homers or would-be homers was still in place. So on that basis, what Showalter did wasn’t really “imploring the umpires for a review.”
As I’ve said previously, MLB needs to put a stop to this practice. If the manager wants a replay, he needs to use his challenge. It’s unfair that guys can sweet talk their way into free replay reviews which come at no risk to them in a sense. Having said that, I do think that home runs or would-be home runs should be automatically reviewed given the magnitude of those plays.
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And here’s another way of looking at it; we all have strengths and weaknesses. Some people have the ability to use the power of persuasion to their benefit. (Go figure, I don’t – no matter how good a case I make!) So a manager who can’t really persuade people is going to have a difficult time talking an umpire into reviewing a play “at his discretion.” That in and of itself might be a tough sell (yes folks, I see the irony there!), however it’s true if you think about it.
The ultimate point here is that if the league is intent on speeding up the game, perhaps they should consider getting rid of the loophole which allows for supplemental replay reviews. And literally it appears that the number of reviews possible is infinite in a sense. Maybe this is a bit over-analytical, however I think the game would be better off for it.
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