HBT readers are smart

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Mark Runsvold has been reading and commenting on HBT since its inception and before that was reading my old blog, Shysterball.  I always knew he was rather bright based on his comments, but I had no idea that he was going to do something like win $48K in one day on Jeopardy!

But that’s what he did on Friday, his first day on the show.  I’m told it was a single-day record, but I couldn’t confirm that, mostly because Jeopardy! fan sites scare the living crap out of me.

Mark is back tonight to defend his title, so check your local listings.  Of course this was all taped back in March so it wouldn’t do too much good to wish him good luck, but I’m sure you’ll think of something. As a trivia nerd whose one attempt to get on Jeopardy! ended in failure — 1997; I passed the test but sort of wigged the talent search people out because I was fidgety on the buzzer during the practice game — I choose to use Mark’s run, however long it lasts, as a vicarious sort of experience. The marriage proposals included.

Oh, and Mark: if you get “baseball” as a category and you don’t get every clue correct, well, we’re just going to pretend that we don’t know you.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.