The unintended consequences of the replay challenge system

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Reader Chris Rochon tweeted a good question to me a little while ago:

The “neighborhood play” meaning those times, especially on double plays, where the runner is called out at second even if the shortstop or second baseman doesn’t tag the bag when he has the ball. It’s very common and allowed because allowing it is in the interest of protecting players from getting their legs broken. But yes, technically, those plays should not result in outs under the rules.

So what happens to that in a challenge system? My guess — unless MLB specifically prohibits challenges on neighborhood plays — we get a varying system where neighborhood plays aren’t challenged in blowouts but are in close games where a runner on second means a lot. And in order to prevent that, shortstops will hold the bag longer in order to get the runner and eventually someone gets hurt.

Or, if we’re lucky enough to where that doesn’t happen, we get into dumb arguments about the “unwritten rules” of challenges. Where it’s sometimes OK to do it and sometimes OK not to and it just adds another layer of derp to these sorts of discussions like we’ve seen when someone bunts to break up no-hitters or steals a base when up by six runs. That’s uplifting. Let’s call it the “full employment for talk show radio hosts rule.”

On the other hand, if MLB does outlaw challenges on neighborhood plays, it has essentially institutionalized the neighborhood play, which it has never seen fit to do before. Which will open the floor, logic dictates, to other safety-driven defacto rule changes. Catcher collisions maybe? Which, hey, that’s cool. I’d be open to talk about all of that stuff. Larry Granillo wrote about the neighborhood play a little while ago and, as he pointed out, maybe it’d be a good thing if it were gone.

MLB just needs to realize, though, that when it takes the application of the rules out of the hands of umpires and into the hands of the managers it looses control of the situation pretty quickly, the game gets changed and it has to do a lot of work to make sure things are even-handedly applied. None of which I think it intended when it proposed a challenge system.

ALCS Game 3 lineups announced: Jose Altuve will DH, Rafael Devers sits

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As expected, Jose Altuve will serve as the designated hitter for Game 3 of the ALCS against the Red Sox this afternoon.

Altuve has been bothered by a right knee injury, so A.J. Hinch has chosen to give his legs a bit of a breather. In his place at the keystone will be Marwin Gonzalez, putting Tony Kemp in left field. Brian McCann is behind the plate.

For Boston, a lefty on the mound means that Rafael Devers will sit in favor of Eduardo Nunez at third base while Christian Vazquez will do the catching.

Red Sox

1. Mookie Betts (R) RF
2. Andrew Benintendi (L) LF
3. J.D. Martinez (R) DH
4. Xander Bogaerts (R)  SS
5. Steve Pearce (R) 1B
6. Eduard Nunez (R) 3B
7. Ian Kinsler (R) 2B
8. Christian Vazquez (R) C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)  CF

Astros

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Jose Altuve (R) DH
3. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
4. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
5. Marwin Gonzalez (S) 2B
6. Josh Reddick (L) RF
7. Carlos Correa (R) SS
8. Brian McCann (L) C
9. Tony Kemp (L) LF