If replay is expanded, it can’t have a challenge system

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Howard Bryant has an article in ESPN the Magazine about expanded replay and some of its potential worrisome unintended consequences.  It’s a good piece, noting the untenable nature of the league’s traditional insistence that it always has and always will survive blown calls.  It also has an interesting quote from Tony La Russa — Bud Selig’s point man on these sorts of matters — which puts lie to the idea Selig keeps floating about how no one really cares about replay. Seems, per Mr. La Russa, that they do.

The general upshot, though, surrounds how problematic it would be to implement a challenge system, noting that in other sports such as tennis — with which Bryant is intimately familiar — challenge systems create some altogether new problems, such as umpires afraid of overruling the line judges and then, themselves, being overruled by a challenge.

I asked Bryant on Twitter about why he assumes a challenge system and he said that he doesn’t personally, but that a challenge system is what Major League Baseball officials are talking about.  I really hope that’s not the league’s focus, because a challenge system seems like the worst possible option. Both for the reasons Bryant notes in his article and because it would do maximum damage to the game flow that MLB itself seems most interested in preventing.  Fixing one problem — blown calls — should neither create more nor fundamentally change baseball strategy, which would certainly happen. Give a manager a lever, he’s gonna pull it.

The only workable option for a rigorous and useful replay system would be to have the umpires manage it themselves as a closed system. Put a fifth ump in the booth and make him a full member of the umpiring crew. Have him be the eye in the sky who is only heard from if he sees something his colleagues missed.  Make it explicit that umpires will not be penalized or judged harshly by the league for getting initial calls wrong or being overturned by replay.

The most important thing is to make replay a tool for the umpires to do a better job, not a threat that risks exposing them when they do a poor one.

Nolan Reimold retires

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Former Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold has retired, Michael Pfaff — president of the Long Island Ducks — announced on Twitter on Sunday.

Reimold, 33, was hitting .238/.359/.397 in 78 plate appearances with the Ducks. He was coming off of a disappointing 2016 campaign as a reserve outfielder with the O’s, finishing with a .664 OPS.

Over parts of eight seasons in the majors, Reimold hit .246/.323/.422 with 56 home runs and 174 RBI.

Mike Trout sprains thumb, to undergo MRI on Monday

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout sprained his left thumb and had to leave Sunday’s game against the Marlins. He underwent an X-ray, which revealed no fracture, but he is set to have an MRI on Monday for further evaluation, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.

Trout went 0-for-2 with a walk before exiting. The reigning AL MVP is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Needless to say, losing him for any amount of time would be a devastating loss for the Angels, who are 26-27 and tied for second place in the AL West.