Meet the Yankees’ replay challenge guru


The New York Times has an interesting profile on Brett Weber, a coaching assistant for the New York Yankees who handles a lot of different jobs. He pitches batting practice, warms dudes up, charts pitches, works in the analytics department and a lot of other things. His most important job, however, is reviewing every play in Yankees games in real time and calling Joe Girardi in the hotline if and when he thinks a call was missed on the field. He’s the Yankees replay guru.

Weber, the Times notes, is good at his job. The Yankees challenge fewer calls than any other team but get calls overturned at the highest rate in baseball. Yankees players and officials credit Weber for his good eye and quick draw to the hotline for that.

But the story also sort of reveals the central problem I always had with replay: the fact that it’s a challenge system in and of itself.

As Andrew Miller, who is quoted in the story, notes, Weber gives the Yankees a strategic and competitive advantage. Which really shouldn’t be the result of a system designed to correct wrongs. Gamesmanship in the form of challenges and losing challenges and all of that was something detractors like me worried about years before the system was put in place and it would appear that, yes, some teams come out ahead of others as a result of the challenge system. That this occurs is stupid and inexcusable.

The story also shows us, by giving us a peek at Weber’s video setup and approach, how easy it is for a single person to assess whether or not there was a missed call and to intervene in a timely manner. Why, then, can’t a fifth umpire do this? Baseball always said it was unworkable to do that, but there seems to be no basis for that claim. If Weber could do it, so too could an umpire. Except he’d be looking at it impartially rather than as a means of gaining a strategic advantage like Weber is.

It’s nice that the Yankees have a Brett Weber. It’s dumb that all of baseball can’t have one in equal measure.

New bill to build Athletics stadium on Las Vegas Strip caps Nevada’s cost at $380 million

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature would give the Oakland Athletics up to $380 million for a potential 30,000 seat, $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bulk of the public funding would come from $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in county bonds, which can vary based on interest rate returns. Clark County also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The A’s have been looking for a home to replace Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The team had sought to build a stadium in Fremont, San Jose and finally the Oakland waterfront, all ideas that never materialized.

The plan in the Nevada Legislature won’t directly raise taxes. It can move forward with a simply majority vote in the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have a little more than a week to consider the proposal before they adjourn June 5, though it could be voted on if a special session is called.

The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said he is disappointed the team didn’t negotiate with Oakland as a “true partner.”

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54. It would become the smallest TV market in Major League Baseball and the smallest market to be home to three major professional sports franchises.

The team and Las Vegas are hoping to draw from the nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city annually to help fill the stadium. The 30,000-seat capacity would make it the smallest MLB stadium.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when owners meet June 13-15 in New York.

The plan faces an uncertain path in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic leaders said financing bills, including for the A’s, may not go through if Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes the five budget bills, which he has threatened to do as many of his priorities have stalled or faded in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Under the bill, the Clark County Board of Commissioners would create a homelessness prevention and assistance fund along the stadium’s area in coordination with MLB and the Nevada Resort Association. There, they would manage funds for services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, job training, rehabilitation and counseling services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would be up for renewal after 30 years.

Nevada’s legislative leadership is reviewing the proposal, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said in a statement.

“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said.