Less than a month into the 2014 baseball season people can’t stop talking about replay. (Hooray!) John Farrell blew his stack during last Sunday night’s Red Sox/Yankees game. Tony La Russa says to be patient and not rush to judgment. Watching baseball grind to a halt — even temporarily — forces baseball fan to form some sort of opinion on the new system.
Call me a traditionalist or a Luddite or a hot-take spewing dinosaur, as someone watching baseball I simply don’t like the challenge system in its current practice. About the only good part of the replay system is the guy positioned at the edge of the field who carries out the headsets to the umpires when they need to communicate with the replay official at MLB HQ. I want this job. You do nothing but stand around, occasionally walk a couple feet when called upon and watch a lot of baseball — plus you’re always within hailing distance of a hot dog to snack on.
Anyways, here’s a couple novel, lighthearted suggestions to spice up, if not improve, baseball’s replay system.
Suggestion No. 1: Fans vote via hashtags
Baseball pushed that dopey “Face of MLB” Twitter thing hard in Spring Training, so why not extend it to the game itself? What better way to determine calls that having fans write #HesOut or #HesSafe on social media? Better yet, install little voting machines on every seat inside the stadium and have fans vote in the vein of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Granted, the home team would probably win every challenge this way, but it would be fun and fan friendly! Kids love social media, ipso facto, this is the way to get them to love baseball again.
Suggestion No. 2: Hire Mike Pereira
Pereira has never, evvvvvver been wrong with NFL replays working for FOX on Sundays, so why not hire him to be the ultimate baseball arbiter?
Suggestions No. 3: Drones, Drones, Drones
Drones are always in the news, right? They can deliver you a pizza or the first three seasons of Wings on DVD from Amazon.com, so why can’t we use them to police Major League Baseball games? We can even name the drones “Bird Seligs.” Unlike umpires you don’t have to pay drones health insurance, either.
Suggestion No. 4: Thunderdome Style “Wheel”
Often bang-bang plays at the bag are so close that nobody can tell if the ball is in the glove before the foot hit the bag, even with replay and with 1080i resolution. Let’s just make the process completely arbitrary and have the managers spin a wheel a la Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome to determine the challenges. Each team is only allowed to consult the Wheel once per nine innings. We include some fun categories beyond “out” or “safe” such as “do over,” “go to jail” and “Catcher has to Pitch an Inning.” Yes, this would be completely random and high-risk, but at least it would be quick and imagine how much revenue each team could bank by selling sponsorship rights to the Wheel. In addition you could get a couple provocatively clad women to bring the Wheel out, which would probably be a good thing for television ratings, too!
Suggestion No. 5: Managerial Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Instead of using a replay, let the managers settle challenges via a game of Rock/Paper/Scissors. Talk about fun and buzz! We could keep stats on which managers are the best and who are the worst. Teams would have to consider this when they hire new managers. Joe Girardi could keep a binder stacked with his counterpart’s tendencies — Joe Maddon opts for paper 37.8 percent of the time on Mondays that fall on even-numbered days. The potential is limitless.
[Photos via Getty/MS Paint]