Joe Maddon is the latest manager to rip instant replay. He’s got a point.

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Last night the Cubs lost to the Dodgers. The last play of the game featured Cubs batter Chris Denorfia smacking a base hit into the left field corner. It looked like a sure double, but Scott Van Slyke fired the ball to second base and shot down Denorfia as he slid into the bag head first.

Or did he? It was a close play at first blush, and it went to instant replay:

[mlbvideo id=”196309583″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

 

Close to be sure, but the center field angle made it look like Denorfia touched the bag before the tag touched his chest. Replay officials ruled that the call on the field stood, as there was not definitive evidence to overturn the out call.

That play may not have made the difference in the game — the Dodgers were up by three at the time — but it certainly got under Joe Maddon’s skin.

“I think it screams for an independent group back there to research the video,” Maddon said after the game. “That’s what I think it screams for as opposed to working umpires that are actually on the field. I think you should get a bunch of nerds back there that know how to look at a videotape and then come to a conclusion. I think it would be much more interesting that way.”

Maddon seemed to be particularly upset about something we talked about last week, which is the whole burden of proof thing, in which calls on the field are given deference unless there is definitive evidence to overturn this. Maddon seems to be saying what I was saying about how the calls should be made clean by replay officials, with their better view substituting for the judgment of the on-field umpires who, especially in this case, did not have a great look at the play. Why they are given deference is a mystery to me.

Also, the “nerds” comment seems to be Madden wondering why it’s field umps working the replay booth back in New York. He didn’t come out and say it, but I will: why would they be eager to overturn their on-field brethren when umpires are no doubt judged on how often they’re overturned? Next week it could be them, after all, and the notion of overruling another ump may be distasteful to them unless they absolutely have to do it.

Independent, de novo review of challenged calls makes far more sense than the system we have now. Major League Baseball needs to implement such a system.

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.

The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.

In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.

The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.

We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.