Alright, remember when that AAA umpire blew a call at the plate to end the game on Monday? You know, that game where we blew the 10 run lead? Okay, now that I’ve brought back a bunch of bad memories for you, let me change the subject a little. Apparently, after that game, Gardy started lobbying for a rule change — red flags:
“I’ve said it all along, I want a red flag,” Gardenhire said Tuesday. “If you use it and you’re wrong, you don’t get the red flag the rest of the game. But if you use it and you’re right, you get your red flag back. … Last night would have been a great red flag game. I could have thrown it out there and then they could have run and checked the replay. It would have been perfect.My first reaction, upon reading that, was that Gardy should call the NFL. The replay rules would be a LOT better if the coach didn’t lose a challenge for being correct. You should be able to challenge 10 times in a game if the ref keeps getting calls wrong.
“Football has a red flag. Why can’t we? Keep it in my sock like they do.”
I then waited a couple days for my thoughts on this issue to percolate.* I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. Also, I felt it’d be wise to delay this so it didn’t come off as complaining about that particular play. That’s really not the point of this.
* Ferment, perhaps. Rot? What happens to an idea once it gets a little over-ripe?
How would this work in baseball? I’m a big proponent of instant replay — I think they waited too long to institute it for home run calls, and I think they should do it for foul balls and close plays at bases.* But I also think it shouldn’t be the field umpires who all get together and talk over the call in secret, hidden away in a dark room somewhere in the mystical bowels** of the stadium. There should be a team of replay officials who are NOT umpires, but are employed by the league, and they should be in a booth somewhere in the stadium, and they should choose what plays will be reviewed and alert the umpires to wait while they do it. There should be a camera on them while they review, and it should be shown both on television and in the stadium. Everything about this would be better.
* I am also in favor of using a computer to call balls and strikes; in what sense is letting a curmudgeonly 60 year old who’s losing his eyesight blow calls because he can’t see the ball “good for baseball,” or any such nonsense? It’s bullshit, and the problem needs to be addressed.
** First time anyone has ever used the phrase “mystical bowels” in a sentence? I hope so.
But I’m getting away from myself a little bit. What of this red flag idea of Gardy’s? Calcaterra’s take is that “if you have an idea to improve baseball, and your reasoning in support of it requires you to cite football’s adoption of said idea, it is ipso facto a bad idea.” He calls it the “Carlin Rule” in honor of George Carlin’s brilliant football vs baseball sketch. Noted Twins-hating windbag Rob Neyer attempts to “throw a wet blanket on Ron Gardenhire’s recommendation that baseball be football-ized,” calling it a lousy idea.
From an aesthetic perspective, frankly, I love the idea. I love it when managers start throwing things, and this would be something they’d be allowed to throw, presumably every few games. Sounds like a lot of fun.
In the end, though, I don’t like it very much. Would managers have to throw the red flag on home run calls? That doesn’t seem right — they can’t really see, they don’t get a good view of the replay, they’d just be guessing, and really, we just want the call to be correct. Let someone outside the heat of the game decide whether to review the home run calls. And while we’re at it, it should be someone outside the game that decides to review any reviewable call. If the manager has a little red flag to throw, perhaps in addition to The Benevolent Reviewing Dictator, the Dictator would be loathe to automatically review anything — expecting the manager to initiate every review.* And that sucks.
* I think there are a few reasons for that. Cover-Your-Ass, certainly, would play a part. If the Dictator waits for the manager to initiate every review, he can never be second guessed on his “decisions.” I think that’d be a huge problem.
The only input the manager should have over whether a call gets replayed is to go yell at the umpire to delay the game a little bit while the Dictator and his band of merry men decide whether to review. If the manager gets ejected during said delay, well, great. But lose the red flags.
I want the calls to be right, and I want them to be consistent. I don’t trust umpires in either regard, and if a manager loses his flag on a close call early in the game he’d be unable to challenge an egregious call later on. The Benevolent Reviewing Dictator and his Band of Merry Men is a more elegant solution than the NFL’s red-flag-tossing situation, and I think it suits baseball a whole lot better than a secret meeting of reluctant umpires.1 comment