In defense of expanded replay

ESPN Stats & Information researcher Doug Kern has found four games in which we can pretty much absolutely, positively say that the outcome was changed -- correctly -- because replay came to the rescue and reversed a play that was originally called wrong. (See accompanying chart.)

There are undoubtedly others. A study by MLB's analytics group says there have been 11 games where the winning team drew a direct "benefit" from a review. In truth, there are too many what-ifs attached for anyone to say for sure. But either way, that's somewhere between four and 11 more games that turned out right, which would have allowed the wrong team to win in the archaic, pre-replay era.

So who misses those bad old days? I don't. A vote for the bad old days is a vote for getting many more calls wrong -- and you prefer that. You understand that, right? Doesn't seem like a real logical position to me. But whatever.

Even those of us who are onboard this replay train need to admit, though, that some of what we've seen so far ranges from "unacceptable" to "in obvious need of repair." So what are the big issues that need work? Here are some:

The manager shuffle

Please. Make this stop. Close call at first. Might have been right. Might have been wrong. So now here comes the manager, ambling slowly toward the infield.

Shuffles his feet. Asks the umpires: "How's the family? How's the weather? Where'd you go to lunch? What's that in your teeth?" All in the name of killing time until his video expert phones the bench and lets him know whether to challenge the call or not.

(A) It's torture. (B) It's actually slowing up the replay process, not speeding it up. The solution seems obvious -- to the managers who are caught in the middle of this uncomfortable process, anyhow: "They need to take us out of this," one manager said, "and just review the calls."

That works for me. It might not work for the powers that be. But based on the feedback we've heard, there's a 100 percent probability this part of the replay system will be addressed after the season -- somehow or other.

Challenge those challenges

What do you make of these numbers? Through Thursday, there had been 105 replay reviews -- and only 38 calls overturned. What does that tell us?

Well, here's what it tells La Russa loud and clear: We've seen too many instances of managers challenging just for the heck of it, because they found that toy in their toy chest and wanted to play with it.

"We've had a lot of guys going out there much more than they would have before," La Russa said. "Like the play at first base, two outs, nobody on. And guys are challenging that. We need to correct that. ...

"One of the ways the game would benefit, and would keep the flow of the game going, is [if managers would stick to] the classic challenge play -- that big call that they would have come out and argued in the past."

For weeks now, we've heard managers say there's no reason they should ever get a challenge wrong, not when their video guys can see the play before they ever challenge it. So if we're seeing this many futile challenges, it's because many are unnecessary.

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