Buck Showalter is in favor of baseball’s new replay system

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Commissioner Bud Selig recently announced the proposed additions to the sport’s use of instant replay, including the implementation of a challenge system. It was panned almost universally by pundits and fans, and even a majority of managers aren’t looking forward to it. Orioles manager Buck Showalter, however, is not among them.

CSN Baltimore’s Rich Dubroff’s latest article has a ton of quotes from Showalter on the new system. Though his enthusiasm seems a bit subdued, he is happy baseball is embracing the use of technology more and more.

“I knew the capability they had. They can take it as far as you want to take it. When you have to watch a replay three times to see if it’s right or wrong, it shows you the challenge they have. I can’t imagine a harder sport to umpire or officiate,” Showalter said.

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“I think you’d be surprised at how little delay there actually is. There’ll be some problems. They haven’t sat down and talked to us and shouldn’t because it actually isn’t until next year.”

While the new system portends to get more calls right than ever before, it still has some obvious flaws, in that the nature of the system will still let otherwise-reviewable plays stand without review, either because a manager is stategically reserving his challenges, or because a manager has already used up his allotment. The system has certainly thrived in the NFL, but as George Carlin told us many years ago, the two sports are very, very different.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.