John Steigerwald

Column John Steigerwald

John Steigerwald has been a fixture of TV, radio, and newspaper sports in Pittsburgh, and has a Sunday column in the Observer-Reporter.

More replay will add to confusion in MLB

Major League Baseball does it again by adding more replays to game

August 17, 2013

Ready for the longest minute and 15 seconds in sports history?

The Idiots Who Run Baseball will have it for you in the 2014 Major League Baseball season. The IWRB announced Friday there will be expanded use of video review in the 2014 season. And Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, who obviously has never watched an NFL game on television, says the reviews will take no longer than 1:15.

I remember when NFL video reviews were only going to take 90 seconds. After years of watching the NFL take five minutes to review plays that my 9-year-old grandson could rule on in 45 seconds, Schuerholz’ claim is the most preposterous made by any member of the IWRB since Commissioner Baghdad Bud Selig said baseball’s Steroid Era was over.

Managers will get three challenges. One in the first six innings and two from the seventh inning on.

According to the IWRB, 89 percent of all incorrect calls made in the past will be reviewable. That means, fair or foul balls, trapped or not trapped fly balls and out/safe calls made on the base paths.

What could go wrong there?

Now, when there is a bang-bang play at home plate in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied game, instead of the crowd holding its collective breath as it waits for the umpire’s signal, it will have to hold its breath for the – cough, cough – 75-second review by the video judges in New York City.

It’s all about getting it right.

Of course, if the manager has used up his three challenges, getting it right won’t matter anymore because there will be no review, and it’ll go back to the umpire’s always right.

And what about the phantom double play? For the last 120 years, second basemen and shortstops have been given a lot of leeway on the exchange at second base. It’s an out if the players foot is in the neighborhood of the base, and it’s an out if the relay man actually gets the ball a split second after he has crossed the bag. If you are a manager armed with a challenge and you can have a runner in scoring position instead of a double play in the bottom of the eighth inning, don’t you have to forget about the gentlemen’s agreement and try to get it overturned?

If there’s a man on first and the batter lines one to an outfielder, who appears to have trapped the ball, what is the batter supposed to do if the umpire rules it a good catch? Should he ignore the umpire’s fist in the air and keep running? What about the runner on first? Should he accept the out ruling and hurry back to first base to avoid the double play or should he keep going to third?

If a baserunner is called out between second and third, even though he knows the shortstop never tagged him, should he ignore the call and keep going to third base, knowing that the replay will save him? Should the shortstop ignore the out call and throw the ball to the third baseman to make the tag so the runner can be called out again?

When a third base umpire says a line drive down the left field line is foul, should the hitter and the base runners ignore the call and keep going if they think they saw a couple of granules of chalk fly, hoping to get saved by the replay?

Should the left fielder ignore the call and make a play on the ball just in case it’s overturned?

The Idiots Who Run Baseball have done it again.

• Sports fans everywhere should be glad that Fox Sports 1 made its debut this weekend. ESPN needs all the competition it can get, but, based on the interviews I saw with Fox executives, I don’t think ESPN has much to worry about. The recurring theme in all the comments was “fun.”

The gang at Fox Sports 1 wants to have more “fun” than ESPN. Is that possible? When I’m watching ESPN, I find myself wishing everybody would just cheer down a little bit.

• Pirates starter A.J. Burnett’s ERA in August over the last four seasons is right around six.

• Former Major Leaguer Jack Clark was fired from his St. Louis radio show for saying that a trainer told him that former Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was a steroid user. Pujols, of course, strongly denied the claim and threatened to sue Clark.

I believe Clark. Sorry.

Is there anything more meaningless than a Major League Baseball player denying he uses or used steroids?

• Michael Jordan turned 50 in February, and Thursday he showed he can still dunk a basketball. It’s more proof the dunk is one of the most overrated plays in sports.

Unless it’s Spud Webb doing the dunking.

• An attorney, who has worked at the highest levels of major professional sports, told me last week he believes former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon will win his lawsuit against the NCAA concerning the use of college athletes’ names and likenesses. He said the NCAA would go out of business overnight and it will be like a nuclear bomb with a figurative crater in Kansas where the NCAA used to be.

We can only hope.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.



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