Joe Torre is somehow surprised that managers are using replay as it was designed to be used

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Ken Rosenthal talks to Joe Torre about replay today. Mostly about the delays and the number of challenges. It’s rather interesting to hear Torre’s general stance and demeanor about it all, as he sounds genuinely surprised about things he should not be at all surprised about.

Specifically, about the delays managers cause while waiting for their review team to tell him if he should challenge or not. And the sheer number of challenges. Here he’s talking about how there have been far more challenges than he and Tony La Russa anticipated:

“I know Tony was preaching this from Day One: ‘Guys, go out there if it’s an obvious miss . . . But there have been so many of these bang-bang calls that have been challenged, and a number have been overturned. Probably more have been challenged than we anticipated, especially in situations that didn’t seem (critical) — and, as a former manager, I know there is no such thing as an unimportant time in a game. I think we’ve had a lot more things challenged — man at first, two outs, things of that nature.”

Torre adds that he thinks a lot of managers are challenging — or at least walking out onto the field to consider challenging — based on the reaction of his players to calls on the field as opposed to a call clearly being missed and it having a real chance of being overturned.

I’m not sure why any of this is surprising to him. The biggest reasons managers get criticized and/or fired is by either appearing to be passive figures who let opportunities pass by or by losing the clubhouse. You give a manager a tool to get even a slight edge and to appear a bit more proactive, he’s gonna use it. You give a manager an extra chance to show he has his players’ backs, he’s gonna take it. Torre and La Russa should know that better than anyone.

To be fair, Torre is right that, overall, game times are only up by about three minutes a game. And I would say that, results-wise, replay has been a success so far. But the delays are annoying and the number of replays would be far, far less — and far, far less intrusive — if they were taken out of managers’ hands and placed in the hands of a person in the booth with access to the game and camera feeds who can overturn bad calls as he sees them. Such a person could exercise judgment on those bang-bang plays Torre and La Russa would like to see too.

Of course, I and many others argued this two or three years before this challenge system went on line. Major League Baseball didn’t listen then, so I doubt they have any intention of listening now, no matter how surprised they somehow are.

Report: MLB owners want a 48-game season

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We’ve heard the back and forth between players and owners on money, on safety, on the size and the shape of the season. But not until now have we heard just how little baseball Major League Baseball and its owners actually want: 48 games.

That’s all they want, at least if they have to, as agreed, pay players their prorated salaries on a per-game basis. That’s the report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who writes this morning on the state of the current negotiations.

Passan’s article has a lot more than that. It contains a number of financial calculations about how much teams say they stand to lose per game played under any given scenario. That said, given the near total opacity when it comes to owner finances, we have no real way to evaluate the claims. The players have a bit more access to league financials, but even they are reported to be unsatisfied with what the owners have shared in that regard. So, while interesting, nothing Passan presents there is really convincing. It stakes out the positions of the parties but doesn’t really tell us much about the merits.

Which is to say that a 48-game schedule sounds like either (a) a bluff aimed at getting the players to offer financial concessions; or (b) a declaration from the owners that they’d prefer almost no baseball if it means that they have to lose any money. The whole “we’ll happily take the benefits of a good market but won’t bother if there’s a chance we might lose money” approach I’ve lambasted in this space before.

We’ll see soon which it is.