If you’re someone who doesn’t like NFL-style innovations in your baseball, this may be some bad news for you. Ben Walker of the Associated Press reports that major league umpires are going to discuss a plan with Major League Baseball that would give them microphones to explain replay decisions to the fans:
While nothing is set, Major League Baseball and umps are expected to discuss a plan — most prominently used in the NFL — for crew chiefs to wear a microphone and explain replay rulings.
Under one possible scenario, they would start at the All-Star Game on July 11 in Miami, tweak the process over the season’s second half and then go forward with the experiment in the playoffs.
People familiar with the talks spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an agreement has not yet been reached.
Given that virtually all baseball replay calls are “out” or “safe,” I’m not sure why this is necessary, but “necessary” has never been at the top of the list when it comes to decisions dealing with replay.
Oh, and it will also add time to replay reviews which can drag as it is and will likely make umpires even more self-conscious about replay review which, I strongly suspect, has already made them more tentative on certain calls as it is.
What in the heck is the upside?
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.